* this post is written in partnership with The Laundress. all thoughts, opinions and advice are my own. thank you to The Laundress!
Depending on where you live, you may have children remote learning from home. The list of challenges with new-to-us homeschooling is long – and complex. No matter how much space you have, getting our kids organized for success with online, at-home learning is difficult.
Families have been reaching out for organizing help with remote learning spaces around their homes (we’ve had to get creative) and it’s a reality for us as well. I have children in high school, middle school and elementary. One of them in a special education classroom. Take comfort in knowing I feel you now matter where you land on the education spectrum. And each grade needs different supplies to work from home. So while I can’t be there in person to help you resolve all the issues, what I can do is share with a broader audience one of our organized homeschool spaces, how I’ve cleaned and organized it, and additional tips / strategies.
Remote learning in the Spring was a huge adjustment – for everyone. Teachers, children and parents were feeling the pain. Our schools were doing their best as they too navigated something so unusual. While it was a disorganized mess, they were doing all they could. Parents as well! Coming out of the summer with more time for districts to work through a plan, school is back in session and seems to be going pretty well so far. And as August neared, I was in the midst of planning where the kids would school from home. We learned from mistakes made in the Spring and the goal was to get all the kids set up for a successful start to the school year.
This is one of our homeschool spaces, which is set in an open loft area.
Before school began last week, it was due for a serious deep-clean and simple organization update. For me, there is nothing better than an organized space with a clear work surface…It’s how I work best while working from home. But I also love and appreciate a space that is clean.
When organizing for families, cleaning is a part of the process. To begin organizing a space, I first remove everything and clean. I love using The Laundress products for laundry, but they have the most incredible and diverse selection of cleaning products / tools as well. Remember my old laundry room? Keep reading through to the end for a 25% off code good through 9/5.
You can see my love of their products goes way back…and especially the Le Labo Santal 33 detergent. Heaven!…
I still have a deep love for their line and have our collection organized in the new laundry room…
This simple divided turntable keeps it beautifully contained and easy to access…
What I love about their products isn’t only their pretty, classic packaging…
But also the unique and non-offending scents. Their Signature 247 scent; used in most of their cleaning products; blends eucalyptus with notes of pine and hints of rose, lily of the valley, bergamot, ylang-ylang, and thyme. I also notice hints of musk and lavender. It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, and allergen-free. And free of petroleum, chlorine bleach, ammonia, phosphate, and artificial color.
AND…cruelty-free. No animal by-products.
There’s a lot to love here!
Especially when organizing a clean, remote learning set-up for your children, you want the products to be safe and not to smell like chemicals. Just fresh and clean.
I first removed the drawer organizers from the desk…
These alone were in need of serious attention…
To clean these great drawer organizers, I used The Laundress All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate…
Just a drop is all that’s required. I let them air dry a bit before wiping clean…
While they dried I cleaned the desk interior with The Laundress Surface Cleaner…
The Laundress created this versatile formula to work well on all surfaces, from stainless steel to finished wood. So I didn’t worry about spraying it directly into the drawers…
This single product can tackle kitchen countertops, appliances, bathroom fixtures, and tile. It’s highly concentrated yet safe to use around kids and food. It’s become a household favorite. Not kidding.
Next, it was time to move on to organizing. We determined what supplies we really needed in the desk and accessible. That ultimately guided us as to which organizers would be the most useful.
As a professional organizer, I’m a stickler about measuring. These fit like a glove…
Only the tools this 5th grader actually uses and needs day-to-day while remote learning…
We added binder paper, blank paper and extra supplies to a lower cabinet…
These work so well for keeping paper contained and they are stackable…
The Laundress not only has great cleaning supplies, they also have tools that make cleaning easier and a more beautiful. I love this Duster for Small Spaces…
It works well cleaning the computer keyboard of crumbs and dust…
Finally, when all was organized and put away, we cleaned the entire work surface with The Laundress Surface Cleaner…
For remote learning, nothing beats an environment with ZERO distractions. This clear surface says it all!
my tips and strategies for successful at-home learning
While the space I shared above is for a 5th grader, I wanted to share additional tips that may be helpful no matter what grade your child is in. In my opinion, this is the most important part of this blog post = my top suggestions to keep kids engaged, focused, and organized…and you sane.
Act as if you’re leaving for school
This falls right in line for adults working from home, but is incredibly important for kids. Children need a schedule and structure to their day. What we can do as their parent is provide them that guidance and structure – in a positive way. Share with them how working from home is affecting you too (if you are working from home, of course). Have your child wake up at their normal time. Act as if you’re leaving for carpool. Get up, take a shower, get dressed in regular clothes and out of PJs, have breakfast and then go to school in your designated space in the house.
Do remote learning outside of your bedroom – sitting upright
After week 1 of remote learning, we’ve already received notification from our school district that they don’t want to see children learning from their bed or in a position of laying down. It’s so important for kids to be sitting upright at a desk or table. Not laying in a bed. We’ve noticed this in particular with the teenagers in our home. Since many of them don’t have or need school supplies, it’s easy for them to wake up, open their laptop and hang in bed for school. This will definitely affect your school output AND energy. For me personally, I can’t work from bed for more than 30 minutes and I start feeling drowsy. Getting out of their bedrooms helps to create definition to the day.
Remove all other electronics
Remove any and all other electronic distractions. It’s too tempting to check Snapchat, Instagram or text with friends. If your child is working from a Macbook, for example, disable the messages application and turn off FaceTime. We’ve seen this often with the high schoolers in the house. It’s too tempting and it creates an enormous disruption to their learning. For younger children, keep the TV off and other electronic noises to a minimum.
Set up a space with no distractions
In the case of this homeschool space, we’ve eliminated all other distractions. There is nothing on the desktop other than tools that don’t fit in the drawers.
There’s great natural light and a desk lamp for additional lighting if needed, but otherwise the decks are cleared. The teal 3-shelf organizer is placed here to add additional space for items they may accumulate during the school year. I’m doing my best to eliminate ALL work surface distractions.
Ensure good natural light
Keeping your space bright, open and fresh is important. A dark space may contribute to feeling drowsy or lethargic. I love all the light that flows into this room…
Only add necessary supplies
Adding too many supplies or excess may encourage additional distractions. I really try to think about remote learning spaces the way a teacher may. Would a teacher allow kids to have items within reach that aren’t necessary to learning in a classroom? If not, it’s not here.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is everything. All parents can relate to this. Even though we don’t have the additional carpool time on the docket, after school activities and more…we need to keep their weekdays as similar to a regular school day as possible. We’re putting the kids to bed at the normal time we would during a typical school year.
Ensure good nutrition
Our kids are on different passing periods / lunch schedules, but no matter what – we are still making sure there are 3 balanced meals in the house and healthy snacks to quickly grab throughout the day. Granola bars, fruit, crackers and hummus, cut veggies, french bread with lunch meat and cheese. It’s all here and at the ready for them to grab when they’re hungry between classes.
Have water available
Besides getting hungry during the day, kids are also thirsty. A hydroflask or water bottle on the desk is a great idea…
Get outside for exercise / movement
Fresh air, movement and a change of scenery is important. Especially when remote learning. When you’re learning from home AND living at home, you need the break from these 4 walls. Encourage movement like walking around the block, taking dogs for a walk, swimming after school, getting outside to shoot a few baskets. Whatever you can do to get out of the home space for a fresh outlook is a good thing.
Keep indoor noise to a minimum
I mentioned we have children with varying ages and of varying grades. With the different schedules, we are doing our best to keep noise in the house to a minimum. Sharing the various school schedules with everyone can help ensure everyone feels respected.
Schedule your day
Have a daily schedule and stick to it. Do anything you can to make it as normal as a typical school day.
Arrange safe play time pods
Regardless of all that’s happening, we’ve noticed how different and more positive the kids are when they have the chance to connect with friends in person. The only way we’ve seen this safely possible is with a small pod of families who agrees to follow the same protocol. Seeing only a few select people. I see an immediate change in the kids’ spirits when they have that social outlet.
Limit more screen time
This is one of my biggest concerns with our children. Spending the entire day online learning…and THEN taking a break by sitting on their phone or gaming? Not the best decision for these guys. More than ever we are limiting screen time on the weekdays – focusing on that outdoor time or in-person time with friends.
I hope these tips have helped or encouraged you. There’s so much more I can share – especially in regards to parents who are trying to manage both online learning and working a full-time job.
If you have suggestions to share, we’d love to hear it! Make sure to leave a comment for us…the conversation is ongoing as we are navigating it together.
Again, a big thank you to my friends at The Laundress for hosting me on their website today. They are offering you a special 25% off discount so be sure to take a look at the great products I’ve shared here! The code is SAM25 and it’s good for nearly everything on their site (aside from some small restrictions) through 9/5.
Happy at-home learning guys!