by Tara Tiger Brown

September 7, 2020

Designing a classroom environment at home is a new skill that many parents have had to learn over the past several months. It's one thing to do homework at the kitchen table after school and quite another to utilize it as a student desk for an entire day. Finding a space that is suitable for a child to work at while also being accessible to the parent who acts as a teacher's assistant is challenging especially if there are multiple family members that need at home workspaces and there is limited floor space.

In the process of creating our own home workspaces, we researched some of the minimum requirements needed to create an effective space to learn and work at from home. We hope that these ideas and tips aid you in readjusting to a different kind of learning environment.

Find A Space

An ideal space to work on an activity or schoolwork is a location that you have access to on a regular basis along with the materials and tools you need. You should be able to leave your space when you want to take a break without packing it up and use it over multiple days.

Many kids will use a computer or tablet in order to communicate with their teacher and classmates while at the same time they need to read and write in books and engage in hands-on projects. Having a large enough space to do both is ideal but if space is tight, options like keyboard trays and laptop stands help to free up limited space.

Depending on the age of the child, parents may prefer to have the workspace in a common family area such as the kitchen or living room so they can provide assistance when needed and supervise internet activities. 

Four Basic Recommendations

There are four things to consider when creating a learning space. It doesn't need to be fancy, it needs to be functional and ergonomic. The decorating can come later.


Table

You need a flat surface to cut and glue and fold paper. It should be big enough to read instructions on a screen and work on your projects. It needs to be away from small children and pets.

Painting on Desk
Toy Desk

Chair

The 90-90-90 Position is a good model to ensure a chair is the right height and to get a neutral upright spine position — not flexed too far forward or backward. Elbows, hips and knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor.

90-90-90 angle rule
Slouch Bad Posture

Lighting

You need to be able to see what you are doing. The sun should not be shining in your eyes and it should not be dark like a cave.

Desk Lighting
Cave Desk

Storage

You need to be able to access pens, pencils, markers, a ruler, scissors, tape and extra craft supplies. If you don't have a dedicated space, then get a bin to put your supplies away so they are readily accessible.

Desk with school supplies
Cat on a table

Inspirational Spaces

Here are some desks that cover a lot of what we recommend and may provide you with some inspiration as you create your home learning and workspaces.

Tidy White Workspace With Plants

Green plants not only make a room feel better but they may help you feel better too. There is a growing body of research that plants improve our mood and our focus.

Kitchen Desk

Small spaces can serve multiple functions and look stylish.

Garden Desk

If you live in a moderate climate then you may have the option to setup a desk outside. In fact, many schools are trying to find a way to create outdoor classrooms. 

Hidden Desk

You just never know where you might find space or reimagine how space can be utilized.

Spaces That Need A Bit Of Work

These offices and desks may look like fun or like someone has a very important job, but they also make it difficult to get work done because there isn't enough space to sit or work on an activity. We can't all have an Instagrammable space, but we can make them free of trash and things we don't need.

Messy Desk
Messy Space with Typewriter
Messy Office

What Does Your Perfect Space Look Like?

If you could create the perfect space, what would it look like? What are some items you need in your learning or workspace besides what we recommended? What would make it extra special for you? What don’t you want in your space? Is there something you wish for but seems impossible to get?

My perfect learning and activity space would look out onto a forest covered mountain. It would magically tidy itself up and my supplies and coffee would never run out. 

Outdoor Desk

References

About the author 

Tara Tiger Brown

Tara Tiger Brown is a technologist and author exploring the intersection of the environment, education, and wellbeing. As founder and CEO of KitHub, she develops STEAM education programs focused on hands-on learning and environmental monitoring.

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HANDS ON PROJECTS THAT DON'T REQUIRE SCREEN TIME: HOUSE TIME