Creating a Learning Space at Home: Ideas from DC Area Moms

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With most of the school districts across the area starting the year with a distance learning model, parents are looking for creative ways to have a suitable learning space at home. Our DMV families live in apartments, townhouses, or some in much larger spaces. Regardless of what scenario you are in, there are some great ways to make for the best space of your children to learn.

If you have been thinking about or working on creating learning spaces at home, you probably know that there is a shortage of children desks. The more affordable ones are currently out of stock, or with a delivery time way into the semester. The ones available now come with a very high price tag.

Our contributors at DC Area Mom Collective have shared similar experiences. Over the summer we have talked about our thoughts, ideas, and must-haves as we get ready for a very different school year. But now it’s time to share with our readers how we are setting up our homes for the semester.

Where to start?

At the end of last semester, I noticed that our setting was not working. The kids’ learning space was right by their play area. Their desks were full of legos and cars by the end of the day and we were not consistent enough to ensure they were clean by the morning. The youngest was also easily distracted by his homemade forts. With that in mind, we decided to make our home office into their learning space.

Before I went out on an online shopping spree, I took an inventory of what we had. I also looked at what we could repurpose for our learning space. Our office was the only space in the house with adult furniture. The good couch that is waiting on the kids to leave the house was moved into our living room, as was a nice carpet and our bookshelf. Step one was to get covers for everything so that the kids could work without us worrying. We ordered one waterproof couch cover and a big rug to cover the space. We had one desk that is now our for our oldest and a very small and well-loved Ikea desk that will be used by our youngest child.

Our Learning Space

It took a couple of weeks and lots of reshuffling but we finally have a space that is 90% ready for our new, and very different, school year. I don’t think we will be 100% ready by the first day, or even the first month. I still have papers to go through and supplies to accommodate. But it is now a place they think of it as their own. They have their books, workbooks, papers, colors, and crayons there and are just waiting on the devices from the school. And maybe thinking about it, the secret to COVID living is not to expect to be fully ready. Let’s call it building resilience.

In our learning space, I made sure we had the basic things: a desk for each kid, a comfortable place for them to read, a bookshelf, and enough space on the floor for them to work on. My boys go to a Montessori school where they are used to working over mats on the floor. We might have a little too many things at this moment, but I will be making adjustments as we get into our routine.

 

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What are other parents in the area doing for learning spaces in their homes?

Some of us have office space to use, others are turning their dining tables into classrooms, and some have done amazing makeovers in basements. No matter what you do, get the kids involved, and try to make it special. If they feel proud and responsible for their learning spot, maybe they will have a better response to distance learning. We have asked moms around the DMV to share their spaces with us in hopes to give you some inspiration. We would love to see your space and feature it in our Instagram stories. Tag us @dcmoms so we can share.

“I wanted to create a space that was comfortable for all of us. I had some things similar to Parker’s classrooms. The desk/drawing table and the stacked drawers are things we already had. I repurposed them for this space and I love that each girl will have her own “cubby” space below.” – Jessica Curry

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“We scored a desk off of a neighborhood listserve and it just fits in our dining room. At first, we weren’t going to do a desk. I didn’t think we had space. But my preschooler is so excited to have a desk for school. The desk contains some storage space (all we need, in my inexperienced-with-preschool mind), but I do have some bins ready to store things in our dining room if needed.” – Tirzah Weiskotten

“I wanted to create a fun space for the kids to get excited about back to school. We moved furniture around and cleaned up our toy room in order to covert this space” – Claudia Salazar

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“Our teachers gave us a lot of ideas and props to set up the space. We loved the pictures from his classmates and the teacher’s avatars.” – Ana Ortiz

“We had the space already set up for our twins and decided to add a couple of items to give it the school feel.” – Helena Fonseca

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“The twins will be working side-by-side in our dining room.  We repurposed their activity table and used decorations we had at home—as well as a banner that I made while on a conference to call—to give the space more of a school vibe. Per request of my 4 year olds, I plan to change the banner every few weeks to keep the space new and interesting.” – Angelle Smith

“We have a small space in our DC apartment. It took a lot of planning and organizing but our second grader now has a private space to do his school work. We have a toddler in the house so the privacy is much needed” – Monique Ross.

“I converted my home office to the kids’ learning area. Their playroom is on a different level. We upgraded a folding table with a finished wood top. To make the space inviting we installed wallpaper and lighting.” – Christina Houpt

“I made a privacy desk divider on the dining table. It took a few minutes using a cardboard box and some decorative paper. She hangs her headphones on it. We also use a clothespin to clip her print out of her weekly schedule onto it. At the end of the day, we just fold the divider up and put away so can use the dining table for dinner.” – Karena Pham

We love all of these fun ideas from fellow moms. What are you doing to make your child’s school space their own? Share your ideas below!

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Tatiana was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United States at age 15. She moved from Houston to DC in 2007 to work for an international organization. She met her husband at work and married in 2011. She has two children: Santiago (2013) and Antonio (2015) and a Masters degree in Conflict Resoliution. After the birth of her second child, she decided to take time off to stay home and focus on the kids. She is passionate about nutrition, self-led weaning and homemade food. The Story of My Table is her Instagram account and blog where she shares her adventures in the kitchen. She strongly believes that a wine a day keeps the doctor away and that the key to parenting two boys is to keep in good shape. She is not a fan of baking, but would occasionally do it to avoid highly processed food. She is an advocate for natural foods, Montessori education and allowing children to get bored. One day she dreams of building an organization where she can combine her passion for food with peacebuilding.