This school year isn’t starting like any other
I want to take a moment to say: Mom – you are doing AMAZING! Life isn’t Instagram-perfect right now. It is hard, and messy, and chaotic (sometimes there is mom rage). But it has also been renewing, and joyful, and fun! We’re here for you for ALL of it.
I open with this to make this point: WHATEVER you are doing right now for your kids is great!
We are starting this new back to (virtual) school series to help you. Our hope is that you can pick and choose from the ideas, tips + tricks and supplemental learning activities we are putting together. Whatever works for your family. Our goal is to put it all in one place to eliminate the needless hours of searching for you. Not to judge what you do and do not do to get through the rest of 2020.
We are going to share:
- Reasons to create a dedicated learning space
- Ideas for kids’ desks + chairs
- Tech accessories that might help you
- Design details to make it FUN!
- Ways to prep support activities + learning in advance
We’ll be creating more posts + weekly learning ideas. So make sure to check back often!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. (This does not change the price that you pay at all!) Regardless, all product recommendations are my own opinions.
Create a dedicated learning space
Kids perform better in school when they have a dedicated learning space. You see this in the constant stream of homework spot photos and picture-perfect desk organization that is ALL over social media right now. The truth – you don’t have to create some drool-worthy design, even a lap desk that you use every day will help create the feeling of school for your child, where ever it is you can fit it into your house.
We are going to be adding a desk to my son’s bedroom. Our house in incredibly small, and with two working parents and a crazy 18 month-old brother, his room is the quietest option for him.
I wanted to share photos of the completed room with you, but it seems that every parent on Earth (or at least here in San Diego) is building a kid’s desk right now. So we are still waiting on desk legs to come in. I’ll update with pictures soon, but take a look below for what we are going to be creating.
Experts agree, the important things to consider in creating this space is:
- Make sure the space is clutter-free (hard for us, but maybe this can be a new school year chore!)
- Make the space comfortable for how your child likes to learn.
- Don’t stick with a desk if your kid simply won’t sit there! We are going to create a desk and a soft seating area so that my 1st grader can bounce around to different spots. As I mentioned above, maybe the lap desk is all you need and your kid can sit on the couch while you work nearby at the kitchen table. It ALL works right now as long as we create a routine that we follow each day.
- Lighting matters – so think about what your space has and what it needs
- Ideally for kids you would mimic the pattern of light outside. If you are in a space with lots of natural light (thankfully we are), then you probably don’t have to add anything. Otherwise look at desk lamps, overhead lighting, or adding mirrors (to bounce light around the space more).
The Ikea desk and chair (1 & 2 above) are what we are putting together for my son. We’ve had the desk top in the garage since we remodeled his room, and, as I mentioned above, we’re waiting on the drawers and legs. This piece can grow with him over the years and be rearranged as needed.
When looking at a chair, consider whether your child will work best in a stationary chair or one with wheels. If you opt for the wheels, think about if you need a plastic cover for your carpet (we aren’t doing that because it reminds me too much of my old corporate office).
If you have toddlers or pre-k learners, a kid-sized activity table or a free-standing sensory bin (with lid) is a great spot to center daily activities. If you have already set up a dedicated craft spot in your house, this still works! You might also want to add a bean bag chair or pillows to a comfy spot in the house as an alternative reading or activity zone.
We are still waiting for more information from our school about all of the endless things we may need for this school year. I know that my son will be getting a tablet this week – but we have no idea what kind, what size, etc. However we are preparing to get a few basic things before he starts school, regardless of the final models.
The items above are suggestions, but make sure to check in on the actual technology that you are actually going to be using and what is compatible with those devices before buying anything. We are considering buying a Chromebook for my son, but we want to test out using the tablet for a bit before we jump in.
If you need to provide your own tech this year, I found these articles helpful:
Some suggestions not shown in the image above:
If your kiddo is going to be using the couch or a bean bag chair a lot with a tablet, you might want to take a look at this Pillow tablet stand (Amazon). If you have a more unique setting, this tablet stand (Amazon) has a lot of configuration options for desktop, counter top or mounting. (Bonus, you can steal it for recipes in the kitchen whenever kids finally get back into the classroom!)
If we do end up sticking with the tablet, our plan is to get a keyboard and mouse for my son. He likely won’t need them per se, but I guess I’m still old school enough to feel like he should be learning how to interact with a computer like us Millennials.
If you are Type A like me and don’t want to be constantly crawling under your kid’s desk to get a lost cord, you may want to look at some extra organization tools for wires and plugs (UGH – so many cords!). This Hanging Cable Loft can help you if you need to bring a power strip closer to the desk and don’t want messy cords on the floor. These bendable cords help keep this neatly wrapped. These little “cable bite” protectors were too cute to not include.
Since my son is in 1st grade, we don’t need to much in the way of desk accessories. However, the ideas above are what we’ll use for a simple pencil cup and a desk pad (to extend the life of the desktop).
Daily School Schedule
I made this simple schedule card to use each day. Laminate it and then use dry erase markers to fill it out accordingly.
You can download this for free below.
I love quick + easy motivational signs. Whether it is wallpaper on my phone, something small on my desk, or a framed collage wall in my kids room – I love the intention of putting good energy into your kid’s universe through art.
I think your at-home classroom is the perfect place to add some growth mindset artwork. You can find some links for prints or affirmation cards that you can purchase below.
- Affirmation Cards from Gracious Adventures
- 3-part motivational poster set from CalmeKidsCo
- It’s Cool to be Different Poster from FrontPorchScribbles
- Spread Kindness Not Germs Poster from FrontPorchScribbles
- Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today Poster from FrontPorchScribbles
Support Lessons + Activities
To organize myself (and also easily put this out of reach when needed), I am using a large 3-tier cart for school days. This will be be both my 1st grader and my toddler.
The top level will be 2 or 3 rotating boxes (from a group of 10 I am making in advance) with learning activities. These will supplement what my son is learning in school. This is meant to be something he can pick up in between zoom sessions and other virtual learning work that his teacher assigns (when I still need to be working or taking care of his brother!).
The middle level will be games + activities for my 1st grader again, but things that aren’t so laser-focused on learning. A rotating selection of lego sets or lego challenge cards, a few magic tricks, his crayon box and paper, a selection of 3 rotating books, or his USA puzzle.
The lower level will be dedicated to my 18 month old toddler. This will be 1 sensory box a week and a rotating selection of 2 or 3 activity boxes (from a set of 10 that I make in advance). In addition to this, I separate the toys in his room into different bins and rotate them in so that he doesn’t have access to them all the time. (You would be amazed how moving something slightly makes it seem brand new!)
I’ll be updating with additional posts on the activity boxes as soon as they are done. We’ll also be adding weekly lesson plans that you can pull from. Make sure to follow us on social media and check back soon.
Download your free schedule template:
Did you like this post? Let us know in the comments below what Tips + Tricks you have for this crazy back to school season. Or let us know what other questions you have. We are all here to support each other!
You can use the image below to Pin it for later.