Home learning workspace

Online Schooling – How To Set Your Child Up For Success

Online schooling is on the rise in South Africa, and more families are opting for the flexibility and other benefits of at-home learning.  However, it’s important for parents to be mindful of providing a child-friendly workspace that is conducive to learning.  A safe, comfortable and well-organised environment is essential for your child to thrive at their online school.

When lockdowns in 2020 shut schools down, architect, Henriette Frohlich opted for online school for her son, and saw how fellow parents were struggling to set up suitable workspaces for their children at home.  She realised that there was a great need for affordable child-friendly workspace furniture that was locally made.  Alongside her husband Markus, an engineer, they started work on designing and producing smart and adjustable furniture and launched HF Design.Online schooling – How To Set Your Child Up For Success

Henriette says, “Most parents embrace the need to invest in a good curriculum, but few pay attention to their child’s learning environment.  We encourage parents to create workspaces for their children that are accessible. That way your child can control his/her own learning experience and journey, without having to be directed/guided by parents. Also think about improving lighting, reducing noise and ensuring your child is sitting comfortable on workspace furniture that is made for his/her body size. That way your child will be set up for a lifetime of learning.”

Henriette and Markus will be joining Koa Academy Principal, Mark Anderson as well as Occupational Therapist, Nasreen Cariem for a free parent’s webinar ‘Setting Up for Home Learning Success’ on Tuesday, 14 June from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.  Nasreen says that parents of at-home learners need to be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs that the child’s workspace is not working well for them.

“Be aware if your child is regularly distracted and inattentive, or not completing tasks,” she says.  “It’s also important to hear them if they are complaining about their learning set-up.  It can be easy to assume that children may be acting out or presenting excuses, when in fact their struggles with their learning environment are real and need to be addressed so that they enjoy being in their workspace.”

Mark highlights a fundamental for at-home learners – “Emotional safety is key,” he says. “This is the parent’s number one job for a child learning at home and will be the greatest indicator of the child’s academic success. We all learn best when we feel secure and in control. When you are setting up your child’s learning space, consult them! They need to be personally invested in their own workspace. Set your child up in a space that is calm, clean and has good lighting.

It doesn’t have to be dead quiet, but it does need to be controlled.  Give them a dedicated space for their learning where they can store everything they need, such as their computer and stationery. It doesn’t have to be big, but it does need to be theirs. This is particularly important for younger learners who are still mastering the practicalities of executive functions like following a schedule and meeting deadlines.”

Henriette Highlights 3 Basics For An At-home Learner’s Workspace

The Most Important Thing Is Lighting

“If your child is struggling to absorb the content, they will lose interest quickly. Bad lighting may also contribute towards poor eyesight later in life. Many parents place their child’s desk near the window, which can lead to blinding natural light or overheating of the work area. Best is to position your child’s desk perpendicular to the window, allowing natural light to fall on the desk. Natural light is the best, followed by indirect light.

The Second Most Important Thing Is Comfort

“Your child must sit comfortably at their desk. The desk and bench or chair should be set at the right height, so as to strengthen core muscles and prevent slouching and discomfort. If a child is not sitting comfortably, they won’t sit for long.”

The Third Most Important Thing Is Noise Management

“Is your child’s workspace in an area that is shielded from disruptive noises? You can use room dividers such as plants, bookshelves, screens or curtains to create a private space for your child and make quality headphones available for online sessions if they are sharing space with other members of the family. Ensure that your child can control the noise in their area, so that they can focus and concentrate when necessary.”

There is no one size-fits-all when it comes to creating an optimal at-home learner workspace, and solutions are going to differ from home to home, and learner to learner.

Student learning online

Nasreen agrees with Henriette’s top priorities.  She says, “For both older and younger learners, a well-organised space with adequate lighting is of utmost importance. An environment which is relatively free of distractions helps to enable concentration, and a comfortable chair and desk with the right ergonomics will allow for prolonged sitting as well as writing comfortably.  The child’s work area doesn’t have to be expansive but there should be adequate space for school materials, stationery and online devices.

In making set-up choices, parents need to consider their children’s particular needs and learning styles.  Some siblings work well sharing the at-home learning space, others may be territorial and do better on their own.  For some children, having the family around in the background promotes accountability and ensures they don’t feel lonely, while other focus better if they are on their own.  Obviously, the family’s resources in terms of space available, furnishings and storage systems also need to be taken into consideration.”

Parents of at-home learners have a host of questions when it comes to setting up and organising a workspace for their child.  Should siblings share an at-home learning space?  Is it okay for my child to do their schoolwork on their bed?  Is an entry-level laptop adequate for online school?  What are the best storage hacks for school materials?  I’m working from home, should my children share my workspace so that I can keep an eye on them?

Mark, Henriette, Markus and Nasreen will be unpacking the answers at the ‘Setting Up For Home Learning Success’ webinar for parents on Tuesday, 14 June from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.  Join the conversation which includes a Q&A session with the experts.  Register here

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  1. This is a very informative article and I’m more than ready for the online discussion.i really want to know the pros and cons of home schooling also how one can make it easier for the child to concentrate you know being at home they might be distracted easily so I want to know how are online taught kids concentrating and sitting still like they do in class
    Are online classes same like at school where its 7:30am-3pm or they are kind of short
    Pardon me ladies for asking too many questions I just want to have more knowledge on this

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Sandra online school is not what I thought it was! I was also worried that it was putting the kids behind a screen for the same hours they would be at school, but at Koa Academy it is so different! I could explain everything I’ve learned about it, but the best would be to click here to a post I published from Koa Academy about busting online school myths and watch the video in that post – I had Mark from Koa Academy as a guest at the beginning of this year and I’m sure that will answer all your questions. I went from starting hte interview that online school could never be an option to now thinking we may look into it in the future!

  2. Tshegofatso Washington

    Online school sounds great! But personally, it’s not for me.
    Kudos to the parents who do it so beautifully, I could never be able to manage. Not only am I raising a WILD child who’s very clingy to me, I also hate anything to do with academics lol. Which is funny because I’m studying and on my 3rd year, I should’ve finished a while ago but being a mom has distracted me so much that doing anything these days takes massive effort. I’m a full time mom and honestly can’t wait for my son to grow up ,go to big school and become independent lol

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Tshegofatso I had Mark from Koa Academy as a guest for one of my weekly live videos towards the beginning of this year and I have to admit that I didn’t think online school would be for us, however by the end of the interview I was seriously interested and it may be something that we consider in the future. The biggest challenge my side is that I love having time out every day to work in peace and quiet and have a mom break. But you should really watch that interview, I added it to a post that I published on busting online school myths. Click here to check it out.

  3. So helpfull for us a stay at home mom ,these tips is amazing and love how you set it out to help our kids thats very important .if i can do online i would because nowadays kids dont focus well and its uncomfortable too i realy prefer homeschooling or online school

  4. loved the article lynne, you always explain everything in detail for us. I just wanted to know if online schooling is safe? theres so many dangers and pop ups nowdays online. what is the average cost for online schooling? how will i know if my child is actually studying and not pretending to study? are there any challenges that we may face with online schooling?

    • Lynne Huysamen

      Those are fantastic questions Tanya – as with many things I think you will find prices and quality of education vary from school to school. The only online school that I know anything about is Koa Academy since I did a live video with the principal a few months back. Click here for their pricing. As explained to me during the video they log onto a specific platform to learn and the teachers track their progress online as they work so they won’t get away with pretending since parents, teachers and kids can see where the children are with their progress in the dashboard! There were so many things that Mark and I discussed in our live video, covering lots of myths of online schooling including all the concerns I personally have about it. I highly recommend you click here to check out the video in this post.

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