Happy fall, cuties! It’s September, which, even in during these crazy pandemic days, means that our little ones are heading back to school. But what does that even mean right now? Depending on where you live, and whether your child attends public or private school, “back-to-school” might mean all remote in the vein of last spring, a hybrid of remote and in-person, rotating days, or learning pods.
One thing is for certain though: It’s never been more essential to set your kids up for scholarly success at home because they’re most likely going to be conducting a chunk of their academic year via Zoom (yes, that groan you heard from the screen just now was me having a panicked flashback to March when I had to supervise my then-first-grader’s first video conference).
So! Today we are talking all about how to make remote learning as best you can, even in a small space and while having your own work to do. As a mother and business-owner, as well as your resident interior design expert, I’m so, so, so excited to not only share my top tips for designing your child’s remote learning space, but to also share a super-fun reveal of my own kids’ recently refreshed bedroom and schoolwork area. Read on!
Photos by Lisa Houlgrave
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Remote Learning Tip #1: Invest in Storage
I know all my fellow working mamas already have this on lock, but it’s such an important aspect of the remote learning equation that it bears eternal repeating: You can never have enough storage space when it comes to the big amount of stuff that comes along with little kids. One storage investment I can’t stress enough is to recreate the cubby or storage area your child might have in their school building. Plus, since routine is so important to young students–my kiddos are 7 and 4–the cubby space can in a big part of establishing that for a new type of learning experience.
In a similar vein, we have a shelving system where we put their framed artwork and their favorite books. My kids love it. They feel so happy anytime I say something they’ve made is going up on the shelf. We continue to rotate things there and it allows them to be surrounded by their own artwork and their achievements that they’ve created.
Remote Learning Tip #2: Choose the Right Chair & Desk
I know that moms and dads everywhere are probably not setting the best example as they crank out full workweeks while curled up in arm chairs or hunched over the dining table–but kids who already potentially having a tough time making sense of why school isn’t happening 100 percent actually at school, it’s vital that you lay a solid foundation for their education by way of a great (and age-appropriate) table or desk, and corresponding chair.
My biggest piece of advice as you shop for furniture for your child’s remote work zone is to invest in a sturdy desk and chair. This is going to be a game-changer because little kids hate sitting still (okay, I admit that my kids might squirm more than average, but I know I’m not alone here!), so you need to tempt them into calm long-term sitting any way that you can. Sometimes–I know this sounds crazy–I’ll roll over an exercise ball for them to perch on as sort of a treat, but it really does help them focus. I also love a beanbag moment for my kids–it’s great for sensory feedback and helps them relax in their space.
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Remote Learning Design Tip #3: Separate Learning and Play Spaces
Because I have two kids, and they always want to play together, I have to separate them in order to expect any schoolwork to be achieved (and in order to get any work done myself). Honestly, it doesn’t matter where they each settle in–in their own room or in the living room or dining room–but it has to be the same every single day. Consistency is absolutely essential and it helps them feel safe, too.
It also helps to have the designated school spaces be somewhat distinct from their primary play and rest areas, and to invest in some truly fun items that reflect your kids’ personalities. In my newly refreshed (and did I mention that I worked my own KKH Design Team on this refresh and they absolutely crushed it!) we have a giant alpacas as the central focus of the room. We also were really going for a modern and playful Scandinavian look that keeps things youthful but also super-chic and clean. I like the idea of having a fluffy rug in there too. It’s really cozy and whimsical and fun.
Remote Learning Tip #4: Give Yourself a Break Because this is Hard
My final–and honestly, most important–tip to parents navigating the maze that is their children’s education right now–is to go easy on yourself! It’s freaking (and yes, I’m keeping it clean because this is my professional channel, but I think you know what I mean!) impossible to be a mom and be successful in managing your kids’ remote learning and to run a business. I mean it when I say there is no manual for this!
It can be so hard to stay positive, but, there are silver linings. After work hours, I do now spend a lot more time with my kids doing reading time–I’ve found joy with that. And I’ll go through the school work-books and read with them and play educational games and engage my daughter on the piano more than I did in the past, because before the pandemic, I had a mindset of: “Oh, they’re getting this in school.”
Bottom line? All of us parents are going through it right now so, at the end of any long day where I’ve had a million meetings and I’m not sure my kids paid attention to any of their virtual classes and my apartment is a mess…I will raise a hard-earned glass (might I recommend this gorgeous glassware?) of wine to each and every one of you! You’ve got this–and KKH is here when you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new desk!