How we set up our coronavirus lockdown home-learning space

I’ve been meaning to write this post about the home learning space we created for the kids (the twins are 10 years old, and are in Year 5) for the last six weeks! When the government announced that schools needed to close, I was completely overwhelmed with panic and anxiety about the Covid-19 situation and the impact it was about to have on our daily life. I often find that focusing on something practical is a good way for me to cope in times of stress, and so I channeled all my energy into rejigging our interior set up to create a workspace that would allow the kids to learn at home, but that wouldn’t take over the space as a whole.

I made the decision to keep the learning zone in our main living area rather than the kids’ bedrooms, because I wanted there to be a clear line between ‘school’ and ‘home’ and for their bedrooms to remain a place they could escape to to play, or chill out (plus, I was also uncomfortable with the idea of them being on the internet unsupervised upstairs).

My husband and I are both working full-time from home (mostly), so it felt really important to get as pre-prepared and organised as possible, to minimise how much the twins would need to interrupt us during “work” periods. The only viable spot downstairs I could come up with (with the kitchen table and our home office already occupied) was our wide window sill, usually packed full of house plants. I relocated most of the plants, and we sat a large piece of MDF on top of the window sill (painted white), which overhangs at the edge of the sill to create a workspace for the twins to sit at.

We’ve never got rid of the twins’ old Stokke highchairs, but they were bright red and purple, which I didn’t fancy looking at everyday in our neutral living room, so I sprayed them grey using PlastiKote matt grey spray paint. The paint finish has held up brilliantly to the near-constant use, and the chairs push neatly under the desk when school’s over for the day.

At school, the kids have a drawer to keep their workbooks etc, so I bought a really simple plastic drawer unit on Amazon to stash all their home learning kit. They have a drawer each, and the other drawers contain supplies such as paper, pens and their headphones and laptop chargers.

To save being asked 990,000 times a day for a snack, I set up a tuck-shop-style snack station. Each snack has a price, and the kids get £1 a day each in change to spend as and when they like. It’s worked brilliantly (with a few amendments here and there) and we often add daily ‘specials’ if we’ve been baking and have some bits that need finishing off!

We decided as a family to stick to a timetable, with the timings for different subjects based on advice from their class teachers. It helps everyone in the family know what’s happening when, and keeps our days on track. I think the kids appreciate a bit of structure, and it definitely helps us with the work/school juggle.

Obviously I need to acknowledge before I finish that I appreciate how lucky we are that the twins are 10, so can work pretty independently, are studying the same thing at the same time, and get on with each other reasonably well. Most of the time we all muddle along together in relative harmony, but I won’t lie – there have definitely been pressure points when it feels too much and one of us (usually me) loses their cool. And now the novelty of it all is wearing off, there’s a strong sense of Groundhog Day creeping in. But more on that (and the various ways I’m attempting to fight it off) another day…

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