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This guide will help you prepare for your child’s homeschooling year ahead

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Back in 2008, Abhishek Bachchan starrer ‘Education for all’ Idea campaign wowed us with the possibility of teaching children over a phone. Who could have guessed that it was a reality waiting to happen 12 years later…

2020 was a year of learning for parents and kids alike. Whether it was the juggle between work and education for parents or kids having to adapt to a new way of learning and school-life, it was nothing less than a challenge. Now we are more than 200 schooldays wiser. And since 2021 looks like the second homebound academic year in recent history, there are plenty of learnings we can adapt for an easier in-house learning environment.
 

HOW TO MAKE KIDS FEEL CONNECTED…
The biggest drawback of schooling from home is lack of peer-to-peer interaction.
Poorna Publications’ educational coach Priya Manohar advises, “Encouraging your child to actively participate in interactive activities like virtual celebrations hosted by the school, competitions or group projects over video calls, helps build their interpersonal skills. Especially in cities where kids are cooped up at home, here is where they learn to develop relationships outside of their family. So going with the theme and the spirit of things will help tremendously.” Putting up drawings or photos of these activities on a pin board similar to how it would be at school will also remind the child of these moments. This way they don’t feel like they are missing out on the fun part of school and feel more connected with their classmates. 

Putting up drawings or photos of activities similar to how it would be at school will also remind the child of important moments in school. Image courtesy, Sven Brandsma/ Unsplash

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Placing the table in such a way that it’s facing a wall, will make sure that the child doesn't get to see other activities that are happening in the house and will remain focused. Photography by Ashish Sahi

WHERE TO SET UP THE CLASS…
Choose a space that has the least number of distractions. Manju Sara Rajan, BeautifulHomes.com's editor-in-chief, suggests, “Getting them out of their comfort zones will make sure they don’t get tempted to laze or play between classes. So, any place that is not their bedroom or play area is a good option. Then, place the table in such a way that it’s facing a wall, this way they don’t get to see other activities that are happening in the house and can remain focused.” If possible, avoid busy areas like the living room, and for the same reason, don’t have the study space in front of a window. At the same time, make sure the space has adequate lighting, preferably access to lots of natural light.


HOW TO CHOOSE FURNITURE…
Garima Agarwal, founder of Peekaboo Interiors, says, “Ergonomics is the key. The study desk and chairs need to be of the correct height enabling the online schooling gadget to be at eye level, thereby avoiding unnecessary strain on the back, neck, or eyes of the child. For storage, neatly classified cabinets or baskets with labels will help in keeping their books, stationary and any other essentials organized.” Choosing a table that has enough drawers to keep everything in one place, makes sure that the child doesn’t have to leave the table during class.

Furniture that is multifunctional is the need of the hour. For people who live in apartments, managing space is crucial. In such a case a desk that can be folded and shut post classes is an option. Solis work table-cum-bookshelf is one such product by the House of Asian Paints that provides sufficient storage and can be shut post school. For older kids, investing in a chair that provides adequate back support is essential.
 

HOW TO SET UP THE CLASS…
Banchika Bhawnani, influencer and blogger, and a young mother to a three-year-old couldn’t send her child to school but instead brought the school home to him. “I didn’t want him to miss the early introduction to school, so I created a space for him that resembled it. In a spare room, I have put up a blackboard, set up a table, made a bookshelf and added all the fun elements you would generally see at school. I have put a colourful dry sheet on top of the table so that even if he spills anything it can be washed easily,” says Banchika.

On the other hand, Manju suggests a hack: “Cover the desk with a layer of brown baking sheet paper. This way if the kids want to scribble away or happen to make some paint splashes, the 

Kids painting on a table

Covering the desk with a layer of baking sheet paper will protect it from any paint splashes. Image courtesy, Raw Pixel/ Freepik

table below isn’t affected. This paper will also catch eraser rubbings and pencil shavings easily, rather than have everything fall on the floor.”

Garima mentions a few important points in this area, “Having a nice pin-up board around their study area helps in keeping their to-do lists, timetable and other school essentials handy. Here, you can also put up some motivational quotes, or a few happy photos to nurture their emotional quotient. Another thing you can easily do is put a small indoor plant on their desk. This helps in rejuvenating their eyes after long hours of screen time due to the healing power of the colour green.”

HOW TO BE TECHONOLOGICALLY EQUIPPED…
Other than the screen of choice, a good Wi-Fi setup, voice cancelling headphones, speakers, anti-glare screens, blue shield glasses and printers have become a tool kit for making the most of digital schooling. Along with these, new products have been introduced to further enhance the learning experience. For e.g. A projector device has been introduced. This helps make the screen on your phone reflect on your wall in 10 times its original size making viewing the class easier.

Parents who have children entering the online schooling system for the first time this year, make sure to discuss the school’s tech requirements before you make expensive purchases. Many schools prefer kids to work on laptops or desktops rather than tablets. Reduce the risk of redundancy by discussing this with the school beforehand.

HOW PARENTS COULD BALANCE WORK AND SCHOOL…
Mansi Zaveri, founder of Kids Stop Press, shares how she does it, “Planning ahead and maintaining a schedule helps the most. We have a common digital planner where we fill in our schedules, a day in advance. So, my kids know what they are supposed to do throughout the day and when they absolutely cannot disturb me. Since I have two kids, my husband and I have divided the responsibilities for school hours. If you have younger kids that need complete attention during class, you can make a request at work to excuse you for those many hours. Workplaces have become accepting of this due to the current situation.”

Many parents opt for parental lock on their gadgets. This is done so that if they are not around the child during class, they can still make sure that the child isn’t getting distracted with other activities like browsing the internet or playing games. Apple products now allow Screen Time to be controlled via Family Sharing on a parent’s phone. Parents can allow the essentials while blocking the entertainment apps for afterschool.

With a tech-savvy digital-native generation, parents have to adapt and innovate. “Afterall, parenting is a unique combination of art and science,” laughs Priya. 

 

Feature Image Courtesy

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