Tenants of Executive Function (EF) such as organization, planning, time management, flexible thinking, and attention/focus become especially important during a student’s distance learning experience. Throughout this journey, we will be sharing some basic EF strategies to help your child thrive while learning at home. Today we will start with building an effective home workspace.
There are various tips and tools that work for all age-levels when designing their home learning environment. To start, creating an organized and appealing workspace is a crucial step to ensuring successful learning. Some basic items to keep in mind and include in your students home workspace are:
1. An Organization System for school supplies suited specifically to your child
A student’s workspace should include everything they could possibly need to take part in online learning and complete assignments, all in one area. This prevents breaks in attention and focus that could arise if the student is having to get up and find things they need as they try to work.
Think of any material your child might need. This includes small items such as their computer/phone charger, headphones, a small “stash” of brain food snacks, and maybe even creating a playlist of calming music to help them focus.
Textbooks and binders should also be organized and easy to reach within the workspace, not scattered or stacked on the floor around the desk. Details as specific as putting writing utensils in a holder on the left or right side of the desk according to your child’s handedness will aid in maintaining focus
2. Their schedule and to-do list/agenda posted on the wall
Having the child’s schedule posted within their line of sight, on the wall of their workspace, helps tremendously in keeping on-track and making sure all tasks for the day are completed. We recommend printing 1-3 copies of the distance learning schedule and posting them on the wall of the workspace, on the fridge or other central family “notice board”, and in their assignment binder.
In addition, even if the student keeps an agenda/planner, their to-do lists of tasks for each day should also be posted on the wall where they will be able to frequently update and see it. Whiteboards are a great tool for this, especially in the distance learning environment while things are frequently changing.
Here is the link
to a small whiteboard you can post on the wall that is broken down by day of the week, with checkboxes for each day. This will help hold your child accountable while also orienting to the goal-mindset of checking all boxes off for each day:
3. A visually appealing workspace
Workspaces should stay as neat and organized as possible, and tidying up at the end of each school day might be a useful routine to ensure this. A messy workspace breeds work avoidance and jumbled thoughts, leading to assignments being forgotten or not getting done.
The location of the workspace should suit your child’s individual preference. Meaning, some children will like an open, airy workspace, with lots of light and minimal walls/restrictions. Other students prefer a closed-style workspace, modeled like a cubicle, to compartmentalize that “school happens here, this is my office”.
No matter the environment you choose, a successful home workspace should be built to minimize distractions. Heavy traffic areas of the home where people are consistently passing through can lead to attention issues. Similarly, spaces that are open to siblings or the family pet can welcome a break in focus. Finally, if you have multiple students in your home, avoiding setting up a workspace against a shared wall will keep your children from hearing each other’s lessons and becoming distracted.
Designing an individualized home workspace is both simple and absolutely crucial to your student’s distance learning experience. Have fun with the process and let your child add their own personal touches, they will thank you!