child attending online classes

How to Make a “Classroom” Feel Like Home

Online school is most effective when it is done in an environment that is conducive to learning, which, in most cases, takes the form of a classroom. But while students are staying at home while COVID is still a threat, how can parents create a learning environment that will inspire their children to learn and stay focused on their studies despite the unusual set-up of online learning?

Here are several tips on how to create a “classroom” at home for your young learner:

Isolate a space dedicated to learning

As adults, we tend to be more productive when we work in a space that we associate with work. It’s the same for kids, who have higher levels of focus when they are in an area that they associate with school. Hence, instead of letting them take online classes in the living room, the kitchen, or an area in the house that is not associated with learning, set up a space for them that is dedicated to schoolwork, such as in the home office.

It is also not recommended to set up a learning space in their bedroom, since bedrooms are a place for rest and play. Having your child learn in an area that they can associate with school only will keep their school and personal lives separate, which can help reduce anxiety and stress levels as well as maintain concentration.

Make it look like a traditional classroom

Some children learn better if they study in an area that mimics the traditional classroom environment. If your child wants to have their own “mini classroom” at home, get some things that can make their study space look like a traditional classroom, such as high-quality tote trays for school, mini blackboards, educational posters, and display boards. Don’t forget to get your child’s input, too. Better yet, let them pick what they want to decorate their space with.

child taking notes attending online classes

…or not

One of the advantages of an online school is that your child gets to learn in a non-traditional environment. You can use that freedom to create a learning environment wherein your child will feel inspired to study. Unlike a traditional classroom, you can use bean bags, playmats, standing desks, and other things that will help your child retain focus. If they feel restless, which is common with online learning, the feeling of not being in a traditional classroom can help them regain concentration.

Establish a routine

Children thrive from routine, but with online school, the routine that they’ve grown so used to at school is no longer the same. Help them ease into the new routine by creating a written schedule. When they can see what to expect next, they will feel comfortable with the predictability and are likely to be less restless. It also helps to incorporate regular activities during breaks so that they can get off the computer, such as exercises, snacks, and games.

Minimize distractions

The number one challenge of online schooling is the distractions present at home. There are many things that can distract your young learner from classes, such as neighborhood noise, other family members, toys, the TV, and phones. And sometimes, it only takes one distraction to ruin their entire focus for the rest of the class.

To prevent distractions from getting in the way of your child’s learning, learn how you can minimize them as much as possible. This can include shutting off noise-making electronics, telling other family members to be quiet, and letting out the dog while your child is in class.

Creating an environment that is conducive to learning is the best way to help your child succeed in an online school. While the current set-up of distance learning is not ideal for everyone, making these small adjustments can result in a big impact on your child’s comfort, ability to focus, and willingness to learn despite being in a non-traditional “classroom.”

What Is the Best Age to Send a Child to School?

Parents face plenty of critical decisions to make on behalf of the child. One of the most important ones is when to send their kids to school. Should they begin early or wait until they’re about 5 to 7 years old?

Compulsory School Age

To answer the question, parents need to know about compulsory education. It covers the minimum age that a child should already go to school. The numbers can vary between states.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the compulsory school age in Alaska is 7 years old. However, in Utah, parents need to send their kids to a childcare facility when they turn 6 years old. Children may also enter kindergarten if they turn 5 years old before September 2.

Some states, like Arkansas, Maryland, and Delaware, and DC also require mandatory school attendance. Other places such as Utah don’t follow such a rule. But a parent may face a minor misdemeanor charge if the child is absent often.

Should You Wait Then?

teacher with students

Some studies also suggest that parents should consider waiting longer to send their kids to school. In a Stanford University study, children who began kindergarten at 6 instead of 5 years old seemed to have better self-control when they reached 7 and 11 years old. In particular, this group scored 73% better in inattention and hyperactivity.

Meanwhile, researchers categorized self-control as an executive function and an essential child trait. Because of this, kids learn how to stay focused. When they are less distracted in school, they are more likely to absorb their lessons.

It doesn’t mean, though, that children don’t get the benefits of schooling if they start early. Take, for example, socialization.

Unknown to many, humans learn to socialize shortly after birth. Consider a child responding to their parents’ funny faces or trying to communicate with them through monosyllables.

Although socialization is a lifelong process, it starts early. And one of the most crucial years is early childhood. During this period, the child develops secondary socialization. Places like school help hone their core personality and train them to act or behave as part of a larger group, culture, or society.

Further, a 2019 study by the University of British Columbia revealed that social play in kindergarten could improve academics. When the school’s curriculum for early childhood education involved hands-on learning and exploration, the kids also enhanced their self-control and attention regulation skills.

The benefits also extend to the teachers, who are less likely to experience burnout since they are having fun interactions with the students.

So when is the best time for a parent to send their kids to school? Childhood education should be non-negotiable once the child reaches the minimum school-age of the state. Otherwise, this option depends on their goals.

For instance, sending them early could improve a child’s social skills, while play-based learning could later promote self-control, attention regulation, and academic performance. However, parents should keep in mind that kids may only enjoy these benefits if they find a facility with a curriculum fit for their ages and needs.