By Alexandra Back, ATR-BC, LPC – Director, Creative Arts Therapies | Art Therapist | Licensed Professional Counselor
Find a space designated specifically for “school” (i.e. ideally not the child’s bed or their usual “comfy” spot, those should be for resting time only).
If space in the home is an issue, and the child does not have a desk, consider a designated laptop desk or small folding desk if feasible.
Invite the child to help with setting up the space and making it their own; consider ideas like allowing them to pick their favorite color for a folder or notebook.
Make the setting up of the space a positive activity. Spend time together creating “inspiration art” to display on the desk or hang on the wall near the work space; for older children, consider printing an image of a positive quote or favorite character. Set the tone for this to be a fun adventure.
For children with sensory challenges, consider adding stretch bands around chair legs, access to a stress ball or fidget tool, etc.
Create a list of “rules” for the “classroom” to help establish expectations during the “school day” and display near the workspace.
For children with attention or hyperactivity concerns, schedule planned “movement breaks” throughout the day, or replicate other accommodations that they may typically have in school where possible.
Minimize distractions (put away phone or put in different area on silent/vibrate, turn off tv, put away toys, avoid loud sounds or music, wear headphones, etc.) during virtual “class time” and work time.
Consider virtual organization strategies – a folder for each class, use of calendar to track deadlines, daily “to do” list each day, etc.
Consider a physical agenda book or wall/desk calendar for children who struggle with the virtual format.
Make sure the work area is clean, and have the child get in habit of tidying up the space at the end of each day to prepare for next day to establish good habits.