Home sweet classroom: Tips for setting up your learning space
Here are things you can do to prepare your student's workspace for a successful school year.
Just as a classroom in a brick-and-mortar school is an important environment away from distraction, kids with CCA need a space away from chaos (i.e. TV, games and other children playing) to study and learn.
A workspace will vary depending on the student's age, but the ideal setup will include certain things no matter what age someone is or what interests he or she pursues. Ideally, the learning space will be in an area where the learning coach can observe, monitor the student’s activities and step in quickly if the student needs help.
- READ MORE: 10 things to know as a new learning coach
In the most successful student learning spaces, the following components are found:
• Computer and desk: Because most instruction and work take place in cyberspace, it’s vital to have a computer and a comfortable desk at which the student can work.
• Telephone: Although phones can be distracting, it’s essential to have one in the workspace in case the student needs to contact a teacher for additional instructions or help.
• Headset: These are shipped to families with the curriculum and are necessary for communicating with teachers during lessons.
• Calendar: An organized schedule helps students stay on track in schoolwork and extracurricular activities, and helps them learn time management.
• Writing tools: Although the majority of work is done online, pens, markers, pencils and paper should be kept handy for working through problems and note-taking lessons.
• Notebooks and folders: Whether they’re physical folders and notebooks or digital, it’s paramount that students stay organized. Put dates on documents, and organize the folders by subject or course and year.
• Graph paper: For children learning more complex math, graph paper can be especially helpful in keeping numbers lined up in every step of the problem.
• Art box: Markers, construction paper, glue and scissors — creativity is as important to learning as memorizing facts and understanding cause and effect. Keep supplies to unleash a student’s imagination for personal and class-related projects.
Erma Sauder, a CCA family mentor and parent for seven years, suggests a few additions to every student’s workspace — for practical and motivational reasons:
• Crate: Some families substitute a coffee or kitchen table for a desk. Erma suggests getting a crate to keep all the school supplies in one place when packed away. Not only will this ensure organization, but it will keep clutter out of the living space.
• “School time” box: Keep a box of books, stickers, toys and similar supplies for smaller children to use during “school time” or as a reward for getting work done. The box will help signal when “home life” ends and “school time” begins.
• Motivational decorations: Have your students choose images or quotes to put into frames or make into posters to decorate their workspace and motivate them during lessons.
• Dry-erase board: Working out math problems and practicing spelling on a dry-erase board is different than using pen and paper. Many students respond well to it.
Another practice Erma suggests is to occasionally move the student’s workspace outside or to another section of the house. Sometimes changing scenery brings a new perspective and activates new motivation.
At CCA, we want all students to reach their potential in all aspects of life. Setting up an efficient workspace for school gives students a space away from “home life” to learn, study and explore what interests them.