Back-to-School: Tips for Setting up a Home Learning Space during COVID-19
A home learning space has been a talk of the town among parents, students and teachers during the ‘new-normal’ virtual Brigada Eskwela last month. It is upon the directives of the Department of Education (DepEd Order No. 12, s. 2020) to find ways for learning to continue amidst the threat and uncertainties brought by COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the highlights of DepEd’s order is the encouragement of all Filipino households to create a learning space or study area in preparation for the upcoming academic school year. Parents and their children were advised to prepare themselves for a blended type of learning which will employ different modalities such as Modular Distance Learning (MDL), Online Distance Learning (ODL), and television (TV) or Radio-Based Instruction.
In this set up, the teacher and students do not necessarily have to meet in person. Instead, classes are conducted online and in remote locations. Classes meet via online learning platforms based on identified schedules as well. Hence, creating a learning space at home is highly encouraged .
A learning space involves educational, environmental, physical (engineering), and socio-emotional factors to maximize learning potential.
A learning space is not only about the dedicated desk or table at home. It involves different factors that provide a blueprint for learning, behavior, and attitudes. Hence, strategic use of home spaces can be a great asset that enables your child to flourish with their studies.
How to create a learning space at home
Whether your children are in preschool, elementary, high school or college, here’s how to create a learning-friendly space that works best for every Filipino Homes.
#1 Location- Designate an area for learning
Just like in real estate investing, location is very important in homeschooling. Try to put your child in a quiet, organized, and distraction-free area where they can focus on their school work and nothing else. If you have a home office or a spare bedroom, that’s perfect. But if you happen to live in a small house, then a dedicated space in the kitchen or in the bedroom, would be fine. Remember this is where the learning takes place, and it should meet the following essentials.
A learning space should be:
- Away from distractions
- Close to School supplies
- Has comfortable temperature
- Has an outlet for charging laptop (if there’s any)
It would also be best to include your child when decorating because it will stimulate excitement and a sense of ownership. These essentials can help them develop routines, master self-regulation and value learning.
#2 Lighting- Make sure it’s well lit!
Of course, who would want to study if the area is too dark? Otherwise it might make your child prone to nodding off rather than learning. It is advisable to make use of as much natural light as you can. Studies have shown that natural lighting in learning environments boosts performance, wellbeing, and creativity. The more natural light, the more conducive the environment is for learning. Natural light from windows or doors can do wonders for livening up a space. Plus, its saves energy and lowers your electricity bill.
#3 Prioritize comfort
A learning space that’s clutter-filled and has uncomfortable furniture won’t allow your child to get the most out of their study time. Do a quality check of the furniture –chair, table and light– in your child’s proposed space at various times of the day. Childproofing your home not only keeps your children safe but also gives you a peace of mind. Ask if they’re comfortable studying/working with it. This will reduce chances of discomfort such as getting back pain, leg cramps, and eye strain.
Moreover, if you have two or more kids, ask them if it’s okay for them to mix up. Would you consider alternate usage depending on class schedule? Perhaps you can innovate ways with them. The more kids you have, the more room you’ll need to have it designed properly.
#4 Keep things organized and set learning norms
Students can learn best in an organized, clean, and clutter-free learning space. An ideal study space provides order that is simple for any child to grasp, for instance, materials are organized on low shelves so they are easy to reach. It’s also important to set learning norms for your child to get into a regular habit of getting work done such as:
- What to do first?
- When to start
- How long will it take?
- Is food allowed?
- What are the technology rules?
- How can you (as a parent) help?
#5 Encourage your child to personalize things
When a study area is customized to the specific passions and interests of your kids, they will feel as though they have ownership of the space and will be more likely to engage in and care for it.
Try to encourage them to help you decorate or improve the space. Perhaps adding their artwork to the wall, or painting the desk their favorite color. Many studies have shown that color can seriously affect your mood especially when studying. Adding ornamental plants could be a great idea too! It makes the study area more cozy and increases levels of positive energy around. Just don’t overdo the personal touches so they won’t get overly distracted.
#6 Be flexible and realistic
As a parent (at the same time teacher) at home, you have to be flexible. You’re not having a 7-hour school day like the regular class in school. You can’t expect your child to be sitting there for a whole day. It’s highly-encouraged to have short breaks and snack times. Since online learning will mean much more screen time for students than they normally spend on schoolwork, it’s imperative also to schedule daily physical activities.
And be realistic too. You’re at home and of course, expect that there will be unnecessary things to come out or will happen throughout that day. Having a schedule is important, but it’s okay to alter it sometimes.
#7 Celebrate successes
Finally, always make sure to reward or praise your child for their successes. It doesn’t need to be a material thing. A simple “great job” or “very good” can definitely uplift a child’s morale. It makes them feel motivated and boosts their emotional being. Acknowledging your child’s effort accelerates the learning process.
As Sec. Briones said, “Together, let us face the challenges of the ‘new normal’ with the virtues of the ‘old normal’—courage, faith, adventure, and discovery!”
Do you have other tips to share on how you create a child-friendly learning space in your home? Let us know in the comment section.
Arnann Jay is a blogger of Filipino Homes and a Freelance Communications Officer, with experience in managing projects and campaigns focusing on education, peace, and digital literacy.