COVID-19 has completely flipped the status quo on its head. For months now, we have gotten used to social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, regional quarantines and remote work situations. Also among these changes is the need for many schools to shift to virtual classrooms for the 2020 school year.
If you’re an apartment dweller who’s trying to accommodate a student (or more than one) and create an environment for learning in a virtual classroom, you’ve likely already seen that things can get tricky pretty quickly. To help you out in this quest, we’ve put together a few suggestions for ways to make room for your children’s educational needs on the homefront.
Designate a Specific Homeschooling Space
No matter what situation you’re working with, the first thing that you need to do is find a space that can be designated for school. This is true whether you’re living in a 5,000 square-foot farmhouse on 50 acres of land or a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city.
That said, if you’re in the apartment scenario, it can be challenging to find space that can be devoted to school. Fortunately, we’re not talking about an entire room or even a portion of a room. Honestly, the top of a desk or a chair can be considered a designated space.
The reason designating something to be a school space is important isn’t because of the quality or availability of the space itself — it’s because of the mentality that goes into thriving when schooling at home. If you want your kids to be able to focus on their school tasks, it’s important that they work on them in an area that’s not also used for entertainment or rest.
Get Space-Sensitive Equipment
Once you’ve designated a room — or maybe more likely the corner of a room — for homeschooling, it’s time to get your basic homeschooling equipment lined up. A few suggestions include:
- A desk: This can be a run-of-the-mill desk, a utilitarian lab desk or even a simple table.
- A chair: Find a quality chair that your children can sit in for hours at a time — remember, just because your kids are resilient, it doesn’t mean they should be uncomfortable.
- Good lighting: A window, a lamp, an overhead light, however you do it, make sure you have plenty of brilliance filling your kids’ educational space.
- Storage: A bookshelf, a desk with drawers or even a repurposed school locker are all great ways to keep your child’s school space organized.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of setting up a school space. However, don’t compromise on functionality simply because something seems like a better option. Oversized desks, stand-alone lampstands, and giant bookshelves are going to take up too much of your precious space before long.
Instead, look for lean, efficient options as you shop, such as a hanging lamp, a desk with extra storage, and a chair that can be tucked under the desk.
Find Creative Activities Outside of School
Along with setting up the space itself, it’s important to plan opportunities for your child to get out of their school space and stretch their legs. Even if you have limited options outdoors, you can still find plenty of activities to help your children when they’re bored, such as:
- Building a fort.
- Playing hide and seek.
- Having a dance party.
- Writing a letter to a loved one.
- Making an art project.
Having creative, non-school-related activities ready is wise, especially if you and your kid are working and schooling, respectively, in the same space day after day.
Don’t Panic About Screen Time
Finally, when it comes to homeschooling in an apartment — during a pandemic, no less — it’s important to set realistic expectations. For instance, with social distancing blocking visits and playing outside likely restricted, you’ll need to be able to stay busy inside.
This naturally means you’re going to have more screen time than usual during these unprecedented events — and that’s okay.
Rather than accepting the inevitable and leaving cartoons on all day, though, you can still find more constructive alternatives to Netflix or Cartoon Network. For instance, there are several homeschool-focused apps — like BrainPop, Reading Eggs and Epic! — that can provide your children with engaging videos, games, quizzes and suggested reading. Using one of these can be much more productive than leaving Paw Patrol on for five hours a day while you work.
Finding Success When Homeschooling in an Apartment
Homeschooling a child during a pandemic in an apartment is a tall order — but it doesn’t have to be an impossible one. Things like designating a learning space, purchasing efficient school furniture, and finding creative activities and apps for non-school time can help to keep your child’s learning journey exciting and engaging.
So, start by finding a space that will work and then begin setting it up so that your child can both survive and thrive as they navigate the unknown remote-schooling waters that lie ahead.