Pivoting Your Remote Learning Space

Remote Learning, Distance Learning, Hybrid Learning School desk, at home school desk

Now that we’re about half way through the school year, checking in with your home learning space and how it’s functioning is a good idea. We can start out with a certain vision in mind, but when we’re actually in the thick of it, sometimes making small adjustments is all it takes to have a more successful learning environment.

Our children entered their Kindergarten and fifth grade school year as remote learners. Our district did offer a hybrid version, but for a plethora of reasons, this was/is the best option for our family. With that being said, it hasn’t always been perfect, but it’s working for us given the circumstances. Our top priority (other than our children’s health) was to create an environment in our home that feels like a space for learning. Since my first career was as a Middle School Language Arts teacher, I had a little insight on setting up a user-friendly space.

However, I have never simultaneously taught two classes five grades apart in the same room! My initial plans needed to be tweaked (multiple times actually) and I think, almost 100 days later, we finally have a working plan.

The location

We’re fortunate enough to have an existing playroom that we added a school desk to. However, we only added one. Before knowing what the kids’ school day/schedule would actually look like, I assumed they would share this desk, alternating their Zoom classes. What was I thinking?! Luckily we already had an art counter in the room that we quickly adjusted to become our (very much needed) second work space.

If you have the space in your home to designate to remote learning that is certainly ideal. Class assignments and activities can consume a lot of space and may seem like they’re taking over your home. If you’re able to contain the work to it’s own room this can help you feel less invaded by it all. Assigning a designated and separate area to conduct remote learning fosters a sense of structure and routine. This can also help those who are “over achieving” learners “turn off” at the end of the remote learning day and head to another area in the home to relax and unwind.

Create the space

The space should be quiet enough that the children can focus, but within earshot so you can have a grasp on how it’s going. At this point in the school year, trying to back off is key. The kids should have their routine down and the younger learners should be fostering a greater sense of independence.

Since we have dueling Zooms happening simultaneously, our oldest wears noise canceling headphones to help with the distractions from her younger brother’s Kindergarten vocabulary dance fun!

Whether or not you have a separate room in your home for remote learning, having a rolling cart to contain the school materials can be very helpful. Using a rolling cart offers you the ability to easily move it from your closet or wherever you store it when not in use, to your kitchen/ dining room while the kids are in school. The 3-tiers of the cart also offer good space for organizing materials.

3-tier rolling cart for organization and storage, classroom cart, craft cart, arts and crafts storage, school supply storage cart

Additionally, having supplemental resources available has been very beneficial. Especially for the younger learners, visual aid posters of letters, numbers, days of the week, sight words have all been tools similar to what they would have in their in-person classrooms and function as tool the kids can utilize independently for reference.

Classroom learning posters, educational posters, educational material

Routine and Expectations

At this point in the school year routine is key. We follow the assigned schedule provided by our teachers for Zoom meetings and assignments, but also have a family routine for the daytime. For example, every day after lunch we have “recess” where the kids go outside in the yard for minimally 10-15 minutes before getting to their next Zoom meeting or playing indoors if the weather doesn’t allow for outside time. Although they go outside much more than these few “assigned” minutes, it’s become a regular part of the day and is something very familiar to that of being at school.

Overall, these are unprecedented times and we’re all doing the best we can. You have to do what works for you and your family. We have found that having a designated learning space for both kids, organizational cart for materials, additional visual aids and a “structured” routine work well for us-hope they can help you too!

remote learning desk, at home classroom, home school, distance learning