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Seven tips for setting up a productive learning space at home

We know that many families expect to have their kids participate in some form of distance learning this school year. Here are some practical suggestions to help you set up a learning space at home for your child to study, do homework, or attend online classes.
  1. Choose a location based on your child’s learning preferences. If they prefer silence, a spare room or their bedroom could be good options. If they enjoy some background noise, consider choosing a spot in the kitchen or near your office if you’re working from home. If there are several location options, you can have your child try each one to see which works best for them.
  2. Eliminate distractions. Ask your child to turn off their phone and social media when they’re learning, and have the TV off as well. For older children, you may want to check out apps and tools that can help eliminate distractions like freedom.to, Stayfocusd, Dewo, or SelfControl. You can experiment with playing instrumental music to block other sounds or to break silence. Some find this helpful and others do not.
  3. Make it comfortable—but not too comfortable. Choose a chair that your child can comfortably sit in for long periods of time, and ensure they have a desk or other flat surface that can accommodate their books, laptops, and other learning supplies. Note: we do not recommend using a bed as learning space; you don’t want your child to fall asleep in the middle of their lessons! Also, doing things besides sleeping in bed can lead to trouble falling and staying asleep at bedtime.
  4. Ensure the learning space has good lighting. This can include natural lighting from windows or light from lamps.
  5. Have all of your child’s supplies—pencils, paper, calculators, for example—easily accessible in their learning space. Encourage your child to keep their space organized and clutter-free. Perhaps you could incentivize them with a small reward each week if they successfully keep their space clean.
  6. Encourage your child to personalize their learning space by adding decorations, artwork, or anything else that might help them to stay motivated and be inspired.
  7. If possible, the learning space should only be used for learning; this includes attending classes, doing homework, studying, for example. If this is not possible, and you’ll be using a shared or multipurpose space, do what you can to signal to your child when it’s time to learn. Clear away all other materials from that space, have your child’s studying supplies at hand, keep it organized, and ensure there is good lightning and no distractions. Having decorations that are only used when learning could also help signal to your kids that it’s time to learn.
If you have multiple kids and limited space, try staggering the use of the shared space by giving each child a schedule for using the space. Give each child a box to organize and store their studying materials. They can take this box and set up in various spaces as needed.
Once you’ve established a learning space for your child, it’s time to collaborate with them to set goals for the school year and create a weekly schedule for how they’ll use the space. For our goal setting tips, see this article. You can develop your child’s learning schedule based on the guidance you’ve received from their school, such as online classes or recommended hours of homework per week. If you haven’t received guidance from your school or are homeschooling, you can refer to our suggested daily schedules (también disponibles en español) and adapt them for your family. Be sure to include time for breaks, meals, and physical activity in your schedule. Be generous with the number of short breaks during learning time, especially with younger learners. If you have young kids, you may want to schedule in time that they can expect to spend with you and have you check on them.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful. What other tips do you have for setting up a learning space for your kids? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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