Your child's workspace at home is becoming more important all the time. Before the pandemic, many students were already doing a large amount of homework on their home computers. Now, their home computer could become the only way to do their schoolwork.
If your child is like most children in this country, they have rarely had “a spot” to do their homework and had a hard time focusing as mentioned in and article by Pam Abrams in Parents Magazine.
Parents are now finding themselves in the unenviable position of trying to get their children to focus on doing a substantial part if not all their schoolwork at home. With COVID-19 at full force in the United States, reopening schools to full capacity in the fall is looking like a far-off dream. Harvard and many other higher education institutions have already announced that they will be staying all online for the fall semesters while many grade schools and high schools are debating how students might return to the classroom with some consider offering a choice between at-home and in-school education or some combination thereof.
1. Set Up a Dedicated Spot for Your Child to Do their Schoolwork
Differing theories regarding the “best place” for children to do their homework have been discussed. Many parents and educators felt that the dining room table or kitchen counter is best as this will allow the parent to “watch over” their child to make sure they got their work done.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment, this may not be possible or effective as you, the parent may be occupying that space and are involved with calls or meetings. Not to mention there is a big difference between “homework” and “schoolwork”.
The grade your child is in and their curriculum is also a factor. As a general rule, children that are in fourth grade or higher will be given more work and are disciplined enough to have a dedicated space whereas younger children most likely will require extra supervision and ideally may have two or even three dedicated spots.
Regardless of the spot you choose, the primary criteria is to select a location that limits distractions and allows your child to focus while they work.
2. Remote Learning Behavior Modification
Kids spend a lot of time sitting in front of their computers, and it should raise concerns about health risks that parents might not consider.
An article by Childmind.org “Screen Time During the Coronavirus” discusses the pre-pandemic challenge many parents had with setting screen time boundaries. The pandemic has all but rendered these boundaries meaningless with parents and children being forced to stay at home virtually 24/7 and remote learning making additional screen time a must.
Here are a couple of suggestions to overcome these challenges –
- Set a routine – This is going to be helpful for parents and children alike. Even though you are at home, get ready for your day just as you did before you headed out the door. Get dressed have breakfast and prepare for your workday.
- Set a schedule and lead by example – Start working at a specific time and be sure to include breaks and “away time” from the screens for both you and your child. In many instances, your child will want to remain on the screen watching a video or playing games, It’s important to get them away from the screen as should you. The best way to do this is to plan fun things to do together.
3. Increasing Focus and Overcoming a Sedentary Lifestyle
Putting aside the issue that eight hours of screen time per day is unhealthy, students will be shifting further to a much more sedentary lifestyle because of at-home learning.
Because we were made to move, sitting all day every day can result in a higher risk of health problems. These include but are not limited to obesity, diabetes, and many other chronic health issues. Additionally, children can experience pain, fatigue, and even symptoms of depression when they don't move around enough throughout the day, just like adults.
In most elementary schools, kids get up to do activities, play outside, and otherwise take breaks to move around. Middle and high school kids walk between classes every 45 minutes or so and are given longer breaks during study and lunch periods to get up and move. College students are often in class for longer but have more time off during the day. They also often walk significantly more to get to various places across widespread campuses. When they're in school, students are often looking up at a teacher instead of down at a screen, making a big difference in their neck posture.
It’s not just about getting enough movement throughout the day. Students, like adults, need desks and chairs designed to improve posture and learning proper posture starts when children start using desks. Using desks regularly can start as early as kindergarten, so even the youngest students must have the right tools to sit properly and protect their health.
Teaching your children good posture is the first step. However, it can be challenging to maintain good posture if their chair and desk don't fit them. Many young kids are too small for an average-sized desk, and some older kids can be too big or tall, just as adults can. A child's desk and chair must be tailored to their size especially as the amount of time in front of electronic devices increases.
The Ideal Solution to Encourage Healthy Habits and Increase Your Child’s Focus
Although it's not particularly challenging to find a desk small enough for an elementary schooler, what happens when they get a bit bigger and grow out of it? As with many things you buy for your child, you want their desk to grow with them.
Adjustable height desks are the ideal solution and best of all they are becoming affordable. An example of this is a Work From Home Desk sold by Summit Ergonomics for $395.00 with a lower end height at an incredible 22 inches!
The ability to sit and stand while your child works has shown to increase focus. Instead of sitting down to watch a lecture or class, students of all ages can raise their desk, stand up and move around, while still being able to view their screen at an appropriate height. Not only can this have positive results physically, moving and transitioning can improve focus and productivity and decrease the risk of many health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Ergonomic workspaces are just as important for children and students as for working adults, especially when they are learning part- or full-time from home. And while it can be challenging to fit a desk in a small space like a bedroom or dorm room, there are ergonomic sit-stand desks, such as the Work from Home desk mentioned above that can fit in an area as small as three by three and a half feet.
Chandler, M., & Botha, A. (2020, February 13). Ergonomics For Children In The Classroom In 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://ergonomicshealth.com/ergonomics-for-children/
Hedge, A. (1999, December). Ergonomics and Children: How to prevent Injury in the Classroom [PDF]. Ithaca, NH: Cornell University.
The NCES Fast Facts Tool provides quick answers to many education questions (National Center for Education Statistics). (2018). Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=46