Setting the scene for successful learning

Oct 10, 2012

One question many parents have regarding online learning is how to create a space in their home that will best facilitate their child’s learning.

Just as no two educational paths are the same, neither are the spaces in which a student feels comfortable learning. Some students need and/or enjoy having a structured learning environment complete with desks, bookshelves and supplies in a dedicated space. Other students thrive by being able to go to class in their room, under the tree in the front yard or at the dining room table.

In addition to the learning style of each student, your decision should be based on the age of your students. Grade school students need to have more supervision, so a dedicated room or space for learning is ideal. For older students, having the freedom to set up their own space in their room or own space in the house can be effective for them.

Other things to keep in mind when setting up your learning space:

  • Make sure the space that you carve out is geared for each child/family and that they have the option to try a few spaces and see where they are the most productive.


  •  Designate one place for books, homework and school supplies, to avoid having the essentials scattered all over the house. A desk, a plastic tub, plastic drawers on wheels, or even just a backpack can help to make organization easier.


  • Make sure your student is prepared for each class or subject before starting. This allows for fewer interruptions and allows the student to completely focus.


  • Be aware of “household” noise.  Since our students are going to school at home it is important to minimize the background noise.


  • Respect that your child is in class. Allow them to focus on schoolwork only; don’t have them run the garbage out to the can or watch siblings while they are doing school.

What parents are saying:

  • I found it best that my 13 and 14 year-old each have their own completely separate areas to work in. I also let them decorate their areas themselves; it lets them be in a relaxed area they're comfortable in. –Loretta Smith Melendez

  • My 13 year-old works in his bedroom and my 9 year-old is [usually ]in the kitchen where I keep an eye on him and make sure he's participating and staying on task.  –Theresa Jablonski Engelbrecht

  • Organization is key [for us]. I converted a spare room into a classroom with whiteboards for my kids, ages 13 and 11. They love the schoolroom and actively utilize the materials to engage in activities. They get along better and enjoy my participation in their studies. This makes learning interesting and fun. –Brandy Martinez

  • I’ve found that complete silence works [best]. If there is music playing in the background it has to be something light and relaxing, like nature sounds or classical. And both of my children prefer to work out their math problems on either the chalk board or dry erase board instead of using plain old scrap paper.  What doesn't work for my children is drilling, drilling, drilling with no breaks in between. – Camilla Marie DeStouet

  • We converted a room in our basement into the classroom for my fourth and fifth grader. Having them in one room is easier for me because when they need me, both at the same time, I'm there. And by having the classroom in the basement means at the end of the day, or during a holiday, school stays at school. The only setback is when one finishes school before the other and gets to go and do something else there is complaining... and they do enjoy "chatting" with each other when they should be working. – Meredith Swierczynsk

  • We dedicated our entire finished basement to school. All their school books, supplies, and computers were kept there. A large table was used to work on homework, and a comfortable couch in front of the fireplace for reading. Good lighting all over is a must. I found having a designated school area to be very beneficial, as the kids weren't distracted by other things, as would have been the case if we had set up school in the dining room or kitchen. – Tanya Bryan

  • When I had more than one child in school, I coordinated their schedules so they would start and end around the same time, and make sure they got to take lunch together. At the desk, my son has a ball chair. It helps to keep him alert and also to give him the ability to have movement while in class. – Dolores Reifinger


  • My daughter has found that what works for her is to do one subject the whole way through the end of the Units before going on to the next subject and saving all reports and projects for last so she can spend more time on them and not feel rushed. She has a room that is specifically for schooling, but many times she will go different places in the house wherever she feels comfortable. The TV is off, the phone is off, and there are no distractions for the time she is doing school work. I have posters on the walls of her math tips and tricks and formulas, German vocabulary, Science formulas, etc. so that she doesn't have to keep looking up the same things in the books all the time when doing the homework and worksheets that are given. For tests, she goes in another room where it is quiet, the door is closed, and only has the formulas and information she is allowed to have for that test. – Rebecca Bear

 -Toni Craig