I teach at a K-8 school in NYC, and Mabel and I had been looking forward to walking to school together each morning when she finally started Kindergarten. Of course, 2020 changed lots of our plans, and Mabel and I are both in remote virtual school for the foreseeable future. I spend the days teaching my 7th graders online, and Emily spends her days managing Mabel’s online Kindergarten schedule while taking care of Matilda and Margaret. It has only been 3 weeks so far, but we have already discovered some things that have made our workspaces, screen breaks, and snacks/drinks a little bit better. Today we’re sharing what has been working so far, although it’s all a work in progress.
remote learning workspaces
When we’re at our cottage in Pennsylvania, Mabel usually does her remote learning at the kitchen table. We set up a teal 3-tier metal cart next to the table. One shelf holds workbooks and cups for pencils/crayons/markers, one shelf holds fine motor activities and math manipulatives like Bear counters, and one shelf holds BOB Books sets and other early readers.
When we designed our living room zones, we purposefully set up a large open rug area in front of the couch for the girls to play. We had no idea the area would be used for Mabel’s remote learning classes that require more space to move, like recess or PE class. She sets the computer up on the coffee table and sits on a pouffe seat until it’s time to move her body. Then she is able to do the movement activities on the living room rug, while still watching the teacher on the computer.
When we’re at our cottage in Pennsylvania, I typically work in our upstairs bedroom. I moved a small table from our deck into the corner of the room, and set up my workstation. Margaret’s crib is in that room, so I am able to help get her down for naps. I typically use headphones to help keep the volume down.
After Margaret falls asleep, I usually move into the closet. We have a tall dresser in the closet, and I put the computer on top. It is the perfect height for a standing desk! It definitely helps me to feel like I’m not just sitting for the entire day.
It is also important for Matilda to have a space where she can play and learn. We set her up with a lap table where she can color and play. Right now we’re especially loving Color Wonder markers that only show up on Color Wonder coloring pads, so we don’t have to worry about marker messes.
Matilda is very interested in letters, numbers, and books, and she desperately wants to attend Mabel’s online lessons. Sometimes she is able to join in special classes, but we don’t want her to be a distraction to Mabel. We signed her up for an account on “Anywhere Teacher” from School Zone, an online educational platform with Adventure Paths for learning activities. They are sharing a FREE 30-day trial with my readers! You can use the promo code SMARTKIDS at www.schoolzone.com/anywhere-teacher to try it out.
When we are in NYC, Mabel typically does her lessons at the kitchen table. She frequently asks us how many minutes she has left, and similarly, during her breaks between classes she often wonders how many minutes until her next class. She can’t tell time yet, so we wanted to set her up with a visual timer. We reached out to Time Timer, and they sent us their Time Timer Mod in charcoal. We simply twist the dial to the number of minutes, and the red section disappears as it counts down. This is so useful during remote learning! I know we’ll also be able to use it during cleanup time and homework time, and let the girls visually count down how many minutes they have left.
When we are in NYC, I work in our bedroom using a pull-out desk drawer in Emily’s closet. It is an amazing feature!