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Organizing for Virtual School Success – Part 1: The Space and The Stuff

Organize for virtual school success

Are your kids prepared for their first day “back to school”?

Just like our “home offices” are set up for work, it is equally important for our kids to have a “home classroom” set up for virtual learning. Whether it is a desk in their bedroom or a chair at the kitchen table, there are many ways to organize them for virtual school success

A dedicated space 

Having a space for your kids to work from, physically, is just part of the equation. It is equally important to have a dedicated place for their stuff: school supplies, paperwork, homework, books, binders and such.

To use an analogy, it is like knives, forks and spoons. We all have the kitchen utensil drawer where the forks live. Even if you take the fork to another room, at the end of the day it gets washed and returned to its drawer in the kitchen. Everyone knows where to find a fork when they need it….and where to put one away.

Knowing where to easily find what you need when you need it is one of the first rules and biggest benefits of organization. It saves time and stress and helps you to get more done in the time you have. 

What if you don’t have a lot of personal space?

Get creative about how to set up a workspace for your students, even if you don’t have a lot of extra room available in your home. Maybe you can’t have “utensil drawers” for everybody, but you can have a picnic caddy, or a plastic bin! Portable, mobile – collected. You can find what you need, when you need it. In your picnic caddy, everything has a home.

If you are space challenged and don’t have a personal desk, at least create a basket, bucket, bag, or backpack that is your student’s “workspace.” If nothing else, provide what they’ll need to operate: 12 inches of surface space for a laptop and paper to write on, or if you don’t have a hard desktop surface available, a clipboard would work.

Customize the space to your child’s style of learning.  Are they wiggly, or can they sit still for an extended period of time? Fidget spinners, a “ball” type chair or work surface where they can sometimes sit and sometimes stand might be considerations. Create a routine for how their space operates. 

Visual clutter is brain clutter

When a student needs to focus on learning, it’s important to remove distractions and visual clutter from their workspace.  Certainly, leave out what you need for that day’s lesson, but create a clean slate that is free from visual – and digital – clutter. Clutter will slow you down, be physically in your way, and create distractions which can lead to mistakes and wasted time. 

Creating a school zone

When you think about your student’s work zone, there are three main categories to consider: 

  1. Supplies: within their physical space, they need to have a way of dedicating and collecting: 1) their school supplies, 2) their current school work and 3) their completed or “returned” work and reference material (at least for that grading period). There are lots of tools for doing this, but they need to have the ability to store and keep track of those three things. Do you have a drawer, caddy or basket for pens, tape, calculator, pencils, etc. available and accessible when they need to do work?
  2. Current work: they need a place to keep current school work. We recommend that you continue with what they are most familiar with. In other words, work should be kept in folders or binders in a backpack that they keep nearby their workspace. This way, the habit and routine of removing and replacing items will still follow when they return to the classroom.  Every morning, they can take out their binder, folder or trapper keeper where they have their day-to-day work, then put it away in their backpack again at the end of each day. Think of the backpack as their “utensil drawer”. 
  3. Completed work and reference materials: this is the place for longer-term reference items. Have them take the things they don’t need to access everyday out of their backpack and off of their work area and store here so they have only current work in those other two more “active” areas (work area and backpack). These are materials they may want to access later or keep, but don’t use daily. These types of things can be stored in a banker’s box, file drawer or file box – anything to keep items for later reference. This can include finished and “returned” work, either to review in preparation for a cumulative exam later or for ensuring the student and teacher are on the same page with grades recorded in the system during that grading period.

Let us partner with your student for virtual school success!

How can you help your student to organize their stuff for school? Do you have a favorite tool for getting organized? We’d love to hear about your student’s set up at home and how it is working for them. What new systems could you set up for them?  

If you could use support in helping your student get and stay organized for virtual school success, please contact us. We’d love to partner with you and your child either in person or virtually to help coach them and provide suggestions to get their school year off on the right foot. 

Stay tuned for our post next week where we’ll cover ORGANIZING FOR VIRTUAL SCHOOL SUCCESS – Part 2: Schedule and Strategies. 

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