Although online school is meant to happen anywhere, students tend to perform best when they have a dedicated workspace to serve as their primary “classroom”—a place that they can regularly access whenever they’re at home or working in their “regular” environment.
Whether you’re just getting started in online school or you’re gearing up for a new semester, here are a few tips to help you select and organize the best workspace for you.
One: Depending on your situation, set up one or two spaces that are dedicated to schooling.
Online school is meant to be a portable experience, so it’s okay if you sometimes need to stay in bed to study when you’re under the weather, or if you attend class with a computer perched on your lap while riding the bus to a competition.
However, these type of scenarios should only happen on an as-needed basis. As tempting as it may be to fall into a “working wherever” habit, it’s best if students have a primary or anchor space that’s dedicated for school and study. Ideally, your workspace should have the following qualities:
· Well-lit—with as much natural light as possible.
· Spacious—not cramped or cluttered.
· Ergonomically sound—positioned and fitted with equipment that prevents neck, back and shoulder problems.
· Quiet—away from high-traffic areas of the home (or dance studio or gymnasium).
· Located near an outlet or power strip.
· Located as far away from distractions—like TV, gaming devices, beds or sofas—as possible.
· Temperature-controlled—avoid locating the workspace close to an exterior door or directly underneath an air-conditioning vent.
If a student splits his or her time between two locations (like two parents’ homes or home and a dance studio), you might consider setting up workspaces in each location that are equally well-equipped.
Two: Personalize your space.
Create an inviting, inspiring workspace by incorporating quotes, dream boards, colorful calendars, fresh flowers, pictures or anything else that transforms the space from a ho-hum destination to a place you enjoy inhabiting. (Just make sure you don’t add too much clutter!) Once in a while, move things around or introduce a new item to give yourself a periodic change of scenery.
Three: Practice good housekeeping.
It’s totally cool if you’re not a neat freak—but—when it comes to getting your schoolwork done, you’ll be surprised at how much better you can focus if you keep your work area uncluttered. Also, don’t forget that keeping your touch devices (like laptops, mouse, tablets, etc.) sanitized can help you from getting sick.
Here’s what a weekly to-do list for your workspace should look like:
· Wipe down your computer and other devices.
· Wipe down and dust your desk and decorative objects.
· De-clutter and empty the trash.
· Refresh your supplies (pencils, scratch paper).
· Perform recommended computer maintenance (in other words, tidy up your virtual space as well as your physical space).
· Untangle power cords and charge your devices.
Four: Avoid working in the bedroom.
As most sleep experts will tell you, it’s easier to “settle down” at night if you don’t associate your sleeping space with your work space. That’s one of the reasons why I recommend that students set up shop in a home office or other suitable area of the house if at all possible, rather than setting up in their bedroom. (The other reason? To combat isolation—a kid who goes to school in his bedroom may be inclined to confine himself too much to that area, rather than getting out and interacting with the rest of the household.)
If space is tight and the bedroom classroom is your best option, you might consider arranging a bedroom workspace that feels different from the experience of being in other parts of the room. For example: You could confine the work space to an area that’s separated by a room divider or a screen, or arrange the desk so that the student has a vantage point that’s different from when he/she is in bed.
Five: Set up a traveling office.
If a student needs to travel frequently, you might want to invest in a rolling computer bag that can easily contain the student’s laptop, extra batteries or cords, and other supplies. Hint: For maximum flexibility, make sure the bag converts into a backpack when necessary.
Keep the bag stocked in advance—that way the student won’t always have to reinvent the wheel every time he or she is about the hit the road. Some supplies to consider including are:
· Travel-only chargers, batteries, and mice—to minimize those “Oh no, I forgot to pack my power cord” moments when you’re away from home.
· Pens, pencils, notepads.
· Printed “troubleshoot” instructions for technical issues.
· Pre-moistened wipes for on-the-road laptop or workspace cleaning.
· Portable laptop pillows; laptop sleeves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.
Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at www.iuniversityprep.org or give us a call at 817-305-4895.
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