If 2020 has your kids feeling a little scattered and distracted, you are so not alone. This school year may be unpredictable, but there are still things we can do to help our kids tackle virtual learning feeling focused and organized. Well, as focused and organized as elementary schoolers can be. Here are our top five tips to help your kids learn, focus, and thrive...even in the 2020 chaos.
You’ve heard that you shouldn’t work in bed or on the couch, right? The same holds true for kids. When we try to work in the same place we usually relax, our brains tell us “Hey, let’s watch TV or take a nap instead!” Creating a space that’s dedicated solely to work creates the opposite effect. When your kids sit down for class and homework, their brains will get down to business.
Ideally, this workspace will be ergonomically designed for kids and used just for work and creative projects. If space and budget allow, a kid-sized desk and chair in a quiet part of the house is usually your best solution.
When that’s not possible, a few hacks can make your dining room table a school-friendly workspace. Try to transition from “eating space” to “workspace” each day by completely clearing off dishes and laying out school supplies (and vice versa when it’s time to eat). A few extra touches, such as adding a desk lamp or rolling in a mini storage locker, will make the switch feel more fun for your kids and help their brains distinguish between school time and mealtime.
Whatever you do, the main goal is to make the space comfortable for your kids, organized, and free of distractions like non-school technology.
When it comes to kids’ desk organization ideas, start with this classic: “A place for everything, and everything in its place”… Sure, it’s a cliché, but it’s a mantra of pre-K classrooms for a reason. Kids work and focus better in an orderly environment. Plus, if they don’t need you to find their erasers or iPad, you just may get to finish a hot cup of coffee one of these days!
And no, you don’t need to give the entire house the Marie Kondo treatment to see benefits – you have enough on your plate as it is! Just keeping the kids’ workspace tidy will save you all some headaches in the long run. Take inventory of the supplies your kids use frequently and help make sure every item has a designated home. Since you have a lot more school supplies than usual in the house, it might be worthwhile to invest in organizing tools like pencil holders, paper trays, kid-sized bookshelves, and storage lockers.
As any parent knows, no organizational system lasts for long if the kids aren’t on board. To get them more excited about keeping their workspace tidy (and about virtual learning in general), let them have some fun as you set up the space. Letting them pick out their own desk, decorate the area with their own crafts, and or simply decide how they want to organize their school supplies can give them a sense of ownership of their workspace.
When it’s time to tidy up at the end of each school day, make it as fun as possible with songs, challenges, anything your little one will be into. Stick with it and eventually, keeping their “school” area clean and organized will just become a habit.
In the unpredictability of this school year, routine and predictability at home are your friends! Think flexible but consistent routine rather than strict, to-the-minute schedules. Hang up a dry erase board or a visual schedule in your kids’ workspace to help them know what to expect. Checking off the list or referring to the pictures each day is a simple way to give them a much-needed sense of stability.
Think of recess as a magic reset button for your child’s focus. Research shows that kids tend to have better focus when they get a break to just play. So as you’re making that schedule, work in a recess or two! Ideally, this time will be for kid-directed play in the great outdoors (aka the backyard or local playground). The most important thing is that your child spends this time moving, playing, and burning that extra energy.
And for those dreary rainy days? We’ve got you covered with these rainy day activities for the whole family!
You’ve got this, parents!