Online schooling is on the rise in South Africa, and more families are opting for the flexibility and other benefits of at-home learning. However, it’s important for parents to be mindful of providing a child-friendly workspace that is conducive to learning. A safe, comfortable and well-organised environment is essential for your child to thrive at their online school.
When lockdowns in 2020 shut schools down, architect, Henriette Frohlich opted for online schooling for her son, and saw how fellow parents were struggling to set up suitable workspaces for their children at home. She realised the great need for affordable child-friendly workspace furniture that was locally made. Alongside her husband Markus, an engineer, they started work on designing and producing smart and adjustable furniture and launched HF Design. Henriette says, “We encourage parents to create workspaces for their children that are accessible. This way your child can control his/her own learning experience and journey. Ensuring your child is sitting on comfortable workspace furniture made for his/her body size will set them up for a lifetime of learning.”
Henriette and Markus will be joining Koa Academy Principal, Mark Anderson as well as Occupational Therapist, Nasreen Cariem for a free parent’s webinar ‘Setting Up for Home Learning Success’ on Tuesday, 14 June from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.
Parents of at-home learners need to be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs that a child’s workspace is not working well for them. “Be aware if your child is regularly distracted and inattentive, or not completing tasks. It is also important to hear if they are complaining about their learning set-up. It can be easy to assume that children may be acting out or presenting excuses, when in fact their struggles with their learning environment are real and need to be addressed so that they enjoy being in their workspace”, says Nasreen.
Mark highlights a fundamental for at-home learners “Emotional safety is key,” he says. “This is the parent’s number one job for a child learning at home and will be the greatest indicator of the child’s academic success. We all learn best when we feel secure and in control. When you are setting up your child’s learning space, consult them! They need to be personally invested in their own workspace. Set your child up in a space that is calm, clean and has good lighting. Allow them a dedicated space for learning where they can store everything they need, such as their computer and stationery. It doesn’t have to be big, but it does need to be theirs. This is particularly important for younger learners who are still mastering the practicalities of executive functions like following a schedule and meeting deadlines.”
HENRIETTE HIGHLIGHTS 3 BASICS FOR AN AT-HOME LEARNER’S WORKSPACE:
- Lighting: Many parents place their child’s desk near the window, which can lead to blinding natural light or overheating of the work area. Best is to position your child’s desk perpendicular to the window, allowing natural light to fall on the desk. Natural light is the best, followed by indirect light.
- Comfort: Your child must be able to sit comfortably at their desk. The desk and bench or chair should be set at the right height to strengthen core muscles and prevent slouching and discomfort.
- Noise management Use room dividers such as plants, bookshelves, screens or curtains to create a private space for your child and make quality headphones available for online sessions if they are sharing space with other members of the family. Ensure that your child can control the noise in their area, so that they can focus and concentrate when necessary.
There is no one size-fits-all when it comes to creating an optimal at-home learner workspace, and solutions are going to differ from home to home, and learner to learner.
Parents of at-home learners have a host of questions when it comes to setting up and organising a workspace for their child. Should siblings share an at-home learning space? Is it okay for my child to do their schoolwork on their bed? Is an entry-level laptop adequate for online school? What are the best storage hacks for school materials? I’m working from home, should my children share my workspace so that I can keep an eye on them?
Why not join the webinar ‘Setting Up For Home Learning Success’ for parents on Tuesday, 14 June from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. Join the conversation which includes a Q&A session with the experts – Mark, Henriette, Markus and occupational therapist, Nasreen Cariem.