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Here I'll show you two examples of how you can create a learning area for your child anywhere in your home for NTI/distance learning. Ideally, your child would have a desk and chair in their own room. But what if there's no space for a desk or chair? Or what if there's space, but no desk or chair? Or what if they want something that feels a little more relaxed and cozier, but that will still look OK at Zoom meetings? Maybe you have even ordered a desk and chair but school is starting before it arrives so you need a temporary work-around.
Don't worry: if you just need some sort of set-up for your child with your existing items, it's easier than you think.
Step 1: Decide on which room is best
As no two houses have the exact same layout and usage, there is no hard-and-fast rule here.
- If your child has his or her own bedroom then this will most likely be the best place to set up, since he or she can close the door for less interruptions and noise during online class meetings. As an additional bonus, once the learning corner is set up here, you probably won't have to change around the furniture beyond the initial set-up. If instead you set up in a family area such as the sitting room, your child's workspace will most likely have to be cleared off at the end of each school day.
- On the other hand, if you already have a separate dining area with existing table and chairs and the ability to close the door, this may be ideal and you may not even need to set up anything or anywhere else.
- Do you have pets? If so, you'll want to set up where the family cat or dog won't be roaming to and fro, especially if the pet is likely to mess anything up in the learning area.
Step 2: Take a look at where you can fit in a learning area
It doesn't need to be a big space. Ideally it should:
- Be away from a door opening
- Near a power point for computer, laptop or tablet charging
- Have a simple background for online meetings
Corners can be surprisingly good for this. Don't be afraid to re-arrange existing furniture if that would help the space function better for your child. If you have 6 weeks of at-home instruction, for example, you can always move the furniture back to the normal positions afterward.
Step 3: Place the seating and the technology
Here's the second of my two examples that I did. The seating is simply a soft toy pillow and a regular pillow; a beanbag could be another option. I've placed the laptop on a small lap table. That's it! The only thing that cost me any money for both examples was the lap table (around $35 each; suggestions and links shown below for where to buy). If that's not an option for you, you may be able to find something else around the house that can work instead, or if you know what you're doing you can even construct your own lap table from spare wood that you might already have.
In both examples, when needing to do written school work, the child can move the keyboard or laptop off the desk area temporarily and use the desk as a writing space.
Please be aware the two examples I showed are not the best or most ergonomic setup: if you can get a proper desk and a comfortable chair, that will be better for your child. The kitchen table might in fact be the best place for this. My two kiddos have different lunch and snack periods so that was part of my decision to set up learning corners in separate rooms. You may even have a folding card table and chair set that is stored away that you can bring out. My type of setup is just a starting place if you need something for right now. TBH we will probably keep it this way in our home though: my youngest actually requested a cozy corner instead of a desk and chair.
Now, lastly I'll cover options for where to buy a lap table in case anyone was wondering about that.
Lap table options
The exact product I bought for my home that you saw in my pics was this lap table at Amazon.com. It's perfect and we love it, but I've noticed the price has been gradually going up over the past few days (eek!) So I've also looked into some similar alternatives that are a little cheaper.
A close alternative would be this similar product at Target.com shown below - as an added bonus, it even has a cup holder on the side.
If you want something in a more exciting color at a similarly low price point, you'll like this white faux marble one from Walmart.com.
If your child is toward the older end of elementary school or above, I'd recommend that the width be at least 20 inches, otherwise it'll be too narrow for comfort. All the ones I showed you above are larger than 20 inches.
There are some ones that are cheaper but they are quite a lot smaller than the 20 inches, which I wouldn't recommend unless your child is quite young. At the time of writing, the Target and Walmart ones I showed you above were cheaper than the Amazon one. I've only tried out the Amazon one though.