It’s safe to say that spring 2020 was a sudden lifestyle shift for all of us. Working from home, social distancing, limiting interactions – these all became part of our new routine. But for those families with school aged children, the shift felt like a complete 180: with all schools shut down in Virginia from mid-March through the end of the academic year as well as a pivot to online, distance learning, it felt like a scramble to many parents and children to adjust to being home attempting to study, learn, and complete the year all while being together 24/7.
Perhaps your dining room table became your classroom? Your kitchen table was possibly covered in notebooks, laptops, art supplies, and more? Your children did their work wherever they could find a quiet spot? If you answer yes to any of these, it’s understandable that “school from home” had its challenges. While, thankfully, the academic year is now over for summer, the discussion about next school year is still underway – the reality is that school might be entirely virtual again for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, or, at least partially, at best.
With that in mind, perhaps now is the time to consider how your home can be better utilized to meet the demands of virtual learning – a full remodel or addition to your space, a reconfiguration of your current footprint, or, just some small, meaningful changes…all could make a huge difference in your children’s success as virtual students – and yours, as helpful, involved parents who are simply doing their best to keep moving forward.
Connected Classrooms at Home: What Do You Need to Succeed?
Technology has allowed us access to knowledge, experiences, and communication that were unheard of in earlier generations. Educators have been taking advantage of technology for a few decades, but, with the advent of more connected classrooms, which is essentially using technology to teach virtually, it is commonplace. And now, with the global pandemic, it is leading the way into the future. So how can you create a connected classroom of your own at home?
According to Planbook.com, having the right tools is key: a flat, interactive smart board, devices such as mobile phones or tablets, and laptops or some sort of computer. And, “…according to a report by Cisco and The Center for Digital Education, students need four cornerstone skills in order to be successful: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. These skills can be honed and refined using technology, and their presence makes technology use more effective.” So, while your children will have a trained teacher aiding them with online learning, and technology is a key component, your home environment and offline support are also crucial for their success.
MOSS is here to share some ways to make your home space the most beneficial for your “school at home,” in addition to the technology tools suggested above:
Dedicated Family Office/At Home Classroom with a Home Addition
One idea to make your home an ideal space for an at home classroom could be adding on the home office you’ve always wanted. An addition off the corner or back of the home, reconfiguring bedroom space to create an office, or finishing your basement to add in a quiet office nook or corner are all options for a home classroom (which can then be transitioned into homework space, at home office for working from home, or a multitude of other options when students are back in school, physically, full-time). Check out this recent MOSS blog that highlights some of our favorite home office additions.
Reconfiguration of Current Space for School from Home Space
It’s quite possible you have the space you already need for a better “school from home” set up, it just needs to be looked at with fresh eyes. Do you have a minimally used guest room? Perhaps you could add a desk or two to the space (and move the bed temporarily) to make a quiet space where the doors can be shut during virtual learning sessions. A large walk in mudroom/entry way or side “formal” living room on your main level? Seldom used, these rooms could be given a do-over (again, even temporarily) so that students aren’t sharing a space and can have a dedicated and calm room to do their work, either on their own or collaboratively with you or a sibling (or virtually with a co-student, working on a project)? A final thought: is your basement used to its best possibilities? MOSS recently showcased several ways that we have helped complete Northern Virginia basement remodels (INSERT BASEMENT LIVING BLOG HERE) – some of which would be the ideal set up for any student wanting to complete their school assignments in comfortable, well-list areas.
Small Home Updates = Big Changes for School Spaces
If these above suggested options aren’t in the cards for this year, then some smaller changes could be implemented to create a more positive school from home environment for your family. Some ideas:
- Better ambient lighting for the schooling area, including as much natural light as possible
- Updated desk chairs for the best ergonomic options for longer online school sessions
- Organized desk areas with cubbies for each child, including designated desktop writing pads, holders for pens and pencils, and other highly utilized school supplies
- Installation of plenty of power strips for the multiple devices that will need to be charged and ready for all school sessions (throw in some extension cords in case your space calls for it).
Finally, think about getting some bean bags or comfy seating for times when your children just need to relax and recharge with a book, a podcast, or just staring off into space. Adjusting to virtual learning can be made much more streamlined by implementing any or all of the suggestions we list here. Most importantly, patience and encouragement of one another will help the most in the long run.
If you’re interested in transforming your home to accommodate a different layout, whether for classroom space or another interior remodel, please contact MOSS at Hello@MossBuildingAndDesign.com or at 703.961.7707 today for a free estimate.