Creating Home Learning Spaces

  • Primary
Marwa Nsouli, EC-KG Coordinator

We all know there is a variety of environmental essentials for learning. Educators, for example, constantly try to maximize elements that contribute to student success, inside their classrooms, by focusing on elements like natural light, good ventilation, quality furniture and open-ended resources. But when it comes to designing home-learning spaces, parents have to think a little differently and work with what they have on hand.

Creating Home Learning Spaces

We all know there is a variety of environmental essentials for learning. Educators, for example, constantly try to maximize elements that contribute to student success, inside their classrooms, by focusing on elements like natural light, good ventilation, quality furniture and open-ended resources. But when it comes to designing home-learning spaces, parents have to think a little differently and work with what they have on hand.

Thinking carefully about the dedicated space, allocated for your child’s home-learning, is not only important, but essential for his/her success. The research shows that a dedicated home learning space can help develop your child’s creativity, sharpen their focus, and increase their motivation to read and learn. Although you do not have the same square footage as a school, with just a little creativity you can easily create an impactful learning space. 

Here you will find some information that will help you choose and organize this area at home.

 

Why Learning Spaces Matter

Many parents allow their children to lounge on a couch or lay on their bed, as long as they are attending classes and/or completing assignments. Although that can work, it might not be the most productive environment for your child to learn. Without a dedicated space, accessible resources and lack of consistency, children can get easily distracted and waste precious learning time. A personal learning space will not only help your child be more productive, but it will also foster independence and teach your child about the value of routines and self-regulation.

A dedicated home-learning environment will:

 

·       help children recognize education as a priority at home, by setting a positive example

·       help children understand that learning takes place everywhere, not just in school

·       set routines that foster independence

·       give your child the skills to become a life-long learner

·       engage children in activities, like reading and writing, for pleasure

 

Choosing the Space

In order to find the right space for your child, you need to step back and think about how your child learns and engages with the world. Ask yourself questions like:

 

·       Is my child active? Does he/she get easily distracted?

·       Does my child like working in quiet spaces or does he/she prefer being around others? Does he/she like to listen to music while working?

·       Does your child get overstimulated?

 By thinking about the learning needs of your child, you will be able to allocate the right space while eliminating unnecessary items/resources you may think he/she needs.

 

Consistency is Key

Many families, especially those with more than one child, may not have the option of allocating a room for each child, and that’s not a problem. The purpose behind allocating a learning space is to insure consistency and not to necessarily give children a big space to study in. Instead of focusing on the size of the space, focus more on the consistency. You can dedicate a corner in your home, but you can also create learning spaces that are more flexible. For example, pull out the same foldable chairs and tables when it is time to learn, or create a learning box you can bring to the dining room table each day. Your learning space could even be a specific lap desk in the living room. 

 

The key is to create a specific routine and spot for your child’s learning. At the end of the day, it is most important to show your child that you value learning enough to give it a consistent place in your home. 

 

Less is More

After you find the perfect spot, begin to think about how you are going to organize the space. Don’t forget to engage your child in this process too. Let him/her brainstorm what resources he/she might need and how they would like to arrange them. As you have these discussions think about decluttering. Remind yourself and your child that less is more. Too many toys, books, and supplies can crowd a space and create a feeling of chaos. Create an orderly environment by decluttering the area. This will greatly help your child focus on learning.

 

Comfortable but Not Too Comfortable

It is important to look for ways you can make learning a place where children are comfortable enough to want to extend their learning time. When you consider your child’s comfort, you will find he/she will require less “breaks”. You may also want to think about offering your child 2 sitting options, like a comfortable chair and a bean bag. This way, your child can switch his/her seating arrangement whenever needed. Remember that making it too comfortable may be counterproductive. For example, studying on a bed may trigger your child to feel sleepy.

 

Visuals    

The brain loves being visually stimulated. So, when you create a learning space in your home, look for ways to create inspiring, creative, and visual places for a child’s mind to wander. Think about the colors and images that make your child feel positive. Think about quotes that will help him/her feel inspired. Try to avoid hanging up rules. Instead, go for essential agreements that you come up with together. Be sure to keep things simple and purposeful, and avoid hanging up too many distractions. Anything visual should add to the learning environment, not take away from it.

 

Natural Lighting

Research has shown that lighting can actually affect a child’s ability to regulate their natural cycle of sleep and attention. In fact, studies have found that natural light (or lighting that mimicked natural sunlight) improved achievement and overall health in school children. From these studies we learn that lighting can affect a child’s energy, attention, and achievement levels. Therefore, it is important that you consider lighting as you are organizing the study area. If you do not have windows in the space, you can also use mirrors to reflect more of the natural light into the room. All you need to do is place a mirror (or mirrors) across from a window to reflect more light.

 

Accessibility and Personalization

Lastly, try to have resources readily available. Organize them in a way that places the items at your child’s reach. This will support independence and encourage your child to consider the use of multiple resources as he/she engages in invitations, assignments, or tasks. Think about writing utensils, books, papers, and loose parts. Don’t forget to make sure the space speaks to your child’s interests and encourages him/her to learn! Include things that motivate them, sparks their interest and stimulates their curiosity.

 

There is a lot of learning that happens within the walls of your home, so do not discredit the instruction that happens at home every day. Dedicating a learning space will not only support independence and foster creativity, it will also encourage and organize the learning that takes place outside the classroom.