Homeschool with fun
Last updated 4/1/2020 at 12:13pm
This is a personal narrative by Jessica L. James, Director of Communications and Advancement, The Colorado Springs School. She is working from home, along with her husband, and their two children. Their son is in 4th grade, and their daughter is in 2nd grade.
When the thought of everyone being at home for e-Learning first entered my mind, I thought back to my childhood when we had two old school desks and would play "school" in the basement. In anticipation of the first day of e-Learning and to exercise some creative control over the COVID-19 situation, I decided to convert our craft room into an e-Learning space. Let's get one thing straight: the craft room really became a space for everything that didn't have a home. Lots of boxes were stacked up, and piles of papers need to be sorted. In all honesty, I had dubbed this space the "crap" room. Here's the deal: You don't need a whole room to dedicate a space for e-Learning. Clean off your desk, convert a cozy corner, hang up a picture, move a plant close by, and call it good. But in case you are inspired to keep reading, here are a few things that helped our setup evolve.
First, I asked a few families and friends at other schools that have already begun e-Learning to share some tips from their first weeks, and then I took some advice from some seasoned home-school moms. Nothing additional was bought for this makeover. It was all repurposed from within our home. Years ago, I fashioned the long table from a panel door and two metal file cabinets I found at the Restore. Spray paint can do wonders. We hung lots of kid art on the walls with a stash of command strips and duct tape. We finally assembled two Ikea carts that I purchased about six years ago; they were still in the original boxes. My 4th grade son took right to the building after all his years of training with Legos instruction manuals. Annually, we framed and hung a piece (or two) of the kid's art on a gallery wall in the hallway, but nearly everything else went up on the walls in this room. We tidied other areas around the house, as we know we will likely need to spread out. It's likely we will find ourselves at the kitchen table, the couch, or even the deck, but I wanted to start with a dedicated space.
Key elements of this project:
A workspace to keep the kid's school books, art supplies, pens, paper, school supplies.
Art that inspires us. (Kid's art and an eclectic collection of personal items. Your style might be more minimalistic.)
Lots of color.
Storage containers. (You can even upcycle Amazon or Target boxes into a pretty storage container by adding wrapping paper prints or art to the sides. Let the kids paint boxes and stack them together for a makeshift bookshelf).
Framed class pictures to keep our friends in mind. (Our pictures were still in the Lifetouch envelopes on my desk from the beginning of the school year. I hadn't taken the time to put them in a frame.)
Access to electrical outlets to plug-in devices and proximity to the printer. A power strip may come in handy.
Cozy reading nooks.
Twinkle lights. Because twinkle lights make everything better. We may add more!
Include the kids. They had great ideas and now have ownership of the space.
A few hearty, potted plants.
Devices. The kids will share a Chromebook, but I am also wiping down an old phone and adding a few kid-centric apps such as Google Hangouts Meet, IXL Math, and Raz Kids A-Z. Google's Family Link app offers ways to monitor and lock down a kid device, so I am exploring that tool as well. The kids each have headphones, which will likely improve concentration.
As we move closer to our first day of e-Learning, I am grateful we've had Spring Break to prepare for the new rhythms. The sunshine and blue skies have helped. I know this time has been vitally important for our teachers' preparations as well.
We are quite fortunate to have a safe home and access to plenty of technology in our household (side note: my internet did crash while I was trying to post this blog). It is not lost on me that others are experiencing far greater hardships and we are mindful of that and reaching out into the world to assist. I'd encourage you to shine your brightness the best way you can and to be grateful for all that you have.
Be good to you and your family during this uncertain time.