Here are things you can do to prepare your student's workspace for a successful school year.
Families experienced in online learning know that a key to success is separating “home time” from “school time.” Naturally, the line will blur sometimes, but the stronger the separation, the fewer the distractions that divert a child’s attention from schoolwork and academic growth.
Creating a workspace for online students devoted exclusively to school time is the best place to start. Science confirms that the right lighting, views of nature and minimized distractions amplify the child’s ability to learn.
When children sit down at an optimal workspace for online learning, they get the message that it’s time to concentrate on education. As they grow academically, they will grasp the difference between school time and home time, and make the most of their virtual classroom experiences.
Creating an Online Student Workspace
Every home is different, and so is every student. It’s important to know how to set up a workspace for online students, even if you don’t have the room for a separate home classroom. No matter the circumstances, following this advice for creating an online learning space helps make a special spot where the magic of learning happens.
Kids have two jobs. Playing is one. Learning is the other. Of course, they prefer play, so anything that distracts from learning shifts their focus away from comprehending their lessons. Young children, especially, haven’t developed the filters that allow them to tune out noises and voices.
When creating an online student’s workspace, make sure it is quiet and take away the TV, video games and toys. Keep a phone there, but establish strict rules regarding its use only for emergencies or educational purposes, such as calling the teacher. Keep pets from crashing the school day. However, a window looking out at the natural world – even if that world is your backyard – provides a valuable outlet for what might look like daydreaming but is actually, science tells us, the child’s brain resetting its ability to focus.
Make Use of Natural Light
Through our eyes, light triggers brain signals affecting our sleep-wake cycles and cognitive performance. In fact, the blue light inherent in sunlight is particularly effective in promoting alertness and discouraging sleepiness. In one large study, kids exposed to natural sunlight during their school days had higher reading and math outcomes than their peers in darker classrooms.
Teens are particularly in need of blue light to stay alert as their bodies undergo changes that push their sleep-wake cycles later in the day. Don’t have a sunny room? Get similar benefits by putting blue-enriched bulbs such as full-spectrum LEDs in the light fixtures. Be aware, though, that evening light exposure can slow learning. Computer screens are also a source of blue light, so experts advise promoting a good night’s sleep by minimizing screen time before bed.
Keep Essentials Within Arm’s Reach
Think about all the things your child will reach for in the course of a school day – pencils, pens, rulers, compasses, highlighters, staplers, sticky notes. The list goes on and on. Every time your child gets up to find a tool, it can break a train of thought that might have led to new discovery or comprehension. Keep note paper, scrap paper and graphing paper at hand so your child can work through math problems or compositions. Spark the creative process by equipping an “art box” with markers, construction paper, glue and scissors.
Younger children can benefit from a “school time” box full of fun but nondistracting books, stickers and toys for signaling that school time has begun, or as rewards for finishing their assignments. If your child’s school workspace is in a common area such as the kitchen or dining room, consider crating up the daily supplies for easy access to materials without cluttering family areas.
Personalize Your Student’s Desk
Even adults like to desterilize their workspaces through family photos and meaningful mementos. Your child’s desk can be their very own safe haven for learning. Personalization promotes a sense of control, helping children feel empowered over their time and performance.
Place a few beloved items, such as framed pictures from a family vacation, favorite posters or the child’s own artwork, within sight. Your child can create a plaque with a motivational saying that inspires excellence or perseverance and hang it in a prominent place. Consider a potted plant that brings nature inside.
Organize Important Files and Equipment
Every day of your child’s school life involves juggling a variety of tasks and subjects. Employ all the tips and tricks that keep important documents, notes and thoughts in places where they are easily collected and retrieved. Establish notebooks or folders for every course and assignment. Try color coding to make files easy to recognize. Create a designated spot for storing your child’s headset, to avoid having to start the day with a frantic search for an essential piece of online-learning equipment.
Practice Smart Time Management
As students grow into middle and high school, responsibility for completing assignments evolves to them personally. That’s why CCA’s online learners enter college better prepared for independent learning than their noncyber school peers. Use the workspace for online students as an opportunity to instill time management habits early. Start with a calendar at the desk that helps your child track schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Use it not only to note deadlines but to establish targets for completing each phase of assignments and portfolios, to prevent last-minute scrambles to turn in work on time.
Try a Dry-Erase Board
Let the thoughts flow from marker to board. Any mistakes are easy to erase. Any sudden inspiration is easy to capture. Dry-erase boards are classic tools for solving math problems, and they can also set the stage for wordplay and doodling to unleash creativity and innovation. If you have more than one child enrolled in online school, or cyber school friends come by for study dates, a dry-erase board in the workspace can be the convening place for sharing ideas and working through problems.
Online Learning Workspace Advice
Cyber schooling infuses learning into every part of a child’s world. Your child’s workspace becomes a place of discovery and wonder. That space will change as your child grows, but the act of creating an online student’s workspace will yield rewards in academic growth and progress. Contact CCA to start your student toward the ideal academic experience today.