Many have called home a place where we hang our hat, a place where we belong, a place that can embody safety and refuge. For some, home was simply a place we stopped along the way, as our days were filled with activities, work, school and comings and goings.
In the midst of a pandemic, our homes have turned into offices, conference rooms, classrooms, restaurants for short order cooks, mini movie theaters and gaming stadiums. We have built forts, played games, had pillow fights, pop up dance clubs and drive by birthday celebrations with horns honking and guests waving.
For the first time in many of our lives, we have opened up our homes to not only our families in a new way, but to the world as we manage zoom meetings and virtual platforms from our kitchen tables. Among all of the joys of being surrounded by our homes, we also have embarked on many challenges and battles. We may feel isolated, frustrated, or even angry by these four walls, as if we are trapped and have no place to breath or experience our true selves.
We have been left guessing if we are making the right choices for ourselves and our families...it has become days of questions with few answers. And as we attempt to navigate the world, one thing that remains the same are those four walls that protect, embrace, and give us shelter at the end of the day.
Home is where the heart is...so they say. Today, once again, we wake up in our homes ready to start a new day. How are you starting the day in your home?
Home for me has its ups and downs, like all of us. When it comes to working full time and homeschooling our children full time, my husband, Chris, and I have transformed our home-work-school atmosphere more than we can count during this pandemic. After speaking with many parents - working parents, single parents, and teachers - I thought this was the perfect time to kick off our Kidcasso Blog! So...here goes nothing (said with a great big smile and wide eyes)! Let’s create a space in our homes where we can truly work, learn, play, and have peace at the end of our long days.
Choose Your Workspace
I have fond memories of my dad “setting” up a work space for me to do homework as a child. He would always start with the dining room table - explaining that I needed a large work area to lay out all my materials and papers. “Task lighting was key,” he would say, as he dragged out big beaming lights that literally called for sunglasses! “A firm chair” was next. “sit up...no feet on the chair.” The list of my dad's set-up went on and on and, while his intentions were good, he forgot to ask me how I like to learn. So, I ask you:
What kind of space does your child learn best in?
What time of the day is your child most active and focused?
For example, I typically learn and work best at about 9am. I like a big table with nice lighting and I prefer to stand or sit half on a stool. I like to set the ambiance; a cup of hot tea, essential oils and maybe the tv on in the background. The noise keeps me focused. The smell of the essential oils keeps my spirits lifted. The hot tea gives me a task (the task of sipping and remaining still in between sips). The feel of the ground under my feet makes me feel strong and self aware.
Start with those two questions. Where would you like to work? What time of day works best? (You may know better than your child if they are more focused and ready to learn in the morning or afternoon.) Offer to help create a workspace together, but be okay if they want to take the lead themselves. Be ready to set expectations and lead by example, but allow your child to cultivate their own ideas in how their space feels.
A learning space should touch upon all of the senses. How does it make you feel? You should feel relaxed, open to ideas, and focused when learning and creating, but remember: We all have different ideas as to what feels relaxing or engaging. So listen to yourself and your child. Stop, look, and listen. Repeat this and have your child say this too, “Stop, look, and listen.”
Once you’ve chosen the room or space, find the work table...is it big or is it small? I would recommend a table that is sturdy and smooth, where a child can create standing, sitting, or maybe even sitting on the floor.
Here are examples of three styles of workspace setups: Use these “styles” as inspiration. Pick and choose what works best for your child. Just like at Kidcasso, we don’t give you directions; we give you tools and inspirations to guide you. True learning comes from self-guidance, trust, and experimentation.
This creative learning environment is filled with a variety of textures to engage learners who are looking for tactile input as they create and learn. Set up can be in a bedroom, playroom, or tucked away in the corner of the family room or living room.
The idea of this concept is to create a soft, peaceful environment that surrounds the child. Maybe built a tent or small canopy over the workspace. Gather up firm pillows for support and then filter in plush filled pillows that hug the body. Bean bag chairs, low to the ground rocker chairs, or even a reclined beach style chair will work. The goal of this setup is to be close to the ground and offer the feel of creating in a fort. Sometimes we need to go back to our own childhood memories of what made us feel safe and secure. Most adults remember the fun, safety, and adventure that filled our imaginations when we built forts! It felt as if we had a secret hideaway from the world. Your child may enjoy that same feeling, while learning and creating. This can be an especially effective environment for getting lost in a book.
Other fun places to tuck away a little fort is under a staircase, in a larger closet or under a table. What places do you remember building forts in as a child? Can you incorporate these memories into a story to share with your child about when you were a kid?
Teacher Tip: Kids love hearing stories about their parents as children, let this be an opportunity to share a little more about yourself with your child. It will help positive and safe sharing to happen between the two of you which will make parent/child bonds stronger.
Okay, now that we have your “pillow fort” designed, let’s play with lighting! String lighting such as christmas lights and fairy lights create a magical ambience in any style fort. Maybe a small desk light that can be placed on your child’s work space, just make sure the bulb is a low wattage or creates a soft glow. Create a “camp” with lanterns or LED battery operated lights. Lots of kids like the imaginary play that flashlights can create. Maybe fill a basket with different types of battery lights for your child to experiment with!
What kid doesn’t want to be just like mom or dad when working? The concept of “work” to a child is mysterious. In today's world of working from home, we have opened up a whole new view of our work lives to our families. Kids are observing and listening to us as we conduct business in a whole new way.
The corner office concept let’s your child either sit side by side, close to, or in the pathway of their working parent. For me, this creates a “traditional” learning environment where we have a desk, chair and lighting. But, this set up doesn't mean lack of sensory or imagination. I would suggest finding a space that is just the right size for your child. An area where the table or workspace can be pressed up against a wall or secure barrier. Some children prefer to have their backs outward and to be more private in a cubical style set up, while other children want to face out and see the room around them. Ask your child what they like best. Maybe try both ways and manipulate the set up as desired.
What kind of chair is your child choosing? Is it a desk chair or a chair from the kitchen table? Think about the supports that the chair offers and fill in what is missing. Maybe your child enjoys the corner office style but needs a soft pillow from their bedroom on the chair, or maybe your child likes to stand at the table with one leg kneeling on the chair next to them.
Lighting can be a desk lamp or side table light. I would recommend that there is a light source from above and on the desk. Casting a variety of lighting into the workspace gives balance and a warm sense of security.
Teacher Tip: In the Corner Office don’t be afraid to mix in elements from the Pillow Fort concept. These ideas are meant to work together and give you a place to jump from. Just like at Kidcasso, we always lead with inspiration and allow ideas to form from there.
Views for Days
This is the ideal space for those seeking natural light and the calming effect that the great outdoors has on us. We all yearn for wide open spaces, but with space being limited at the moment look for that perfect window to the outside world to set up your child’s space. I love pushing a table right up to a window and feeling the warmth from the sun and hearing the sounds of the day.
Ask your child where their favorite window is in your home. Ask them what they like about that view. Go ahead and begin to design the space for them with that window (if possible) right in the focal point of their learning space. A simple surface and some type of seating that best fits your child’s personality is all you need! A desk or table light to help draw in light where natural light doesn't touch is a must.
Can you open the window to let fresh air in? Ask your child if they like the breeze or the sounds. Vitamin D is something we all need, so pull back the curtains, roll up the blinds and let that light in! Maybe place a pair of sunglasses on the desk, in case it gets too sunny, and have your child imagine that they are creating from a far away tropical island. Have fun with this learning space and gather your inspiration from what your child sees from that window.
You will be amazed as attitudes change when working next to a window!
Teacher Tip: This space can evolve with the seasons or time of day. Let your child work in this space when their moods are heightened or fueled with anxiety. We all need the view beyond our desks to foster new ideas and grounding.
Gather And Organize Your Tools
At the studios, we choose to showcase our art tools in clear jars and containers. This allows children to quickly get what they need when they need, but it also plays upon the senses and builds inspiration.
You can get this look and feel right at your child’s workspace. Take simple, clear containers and have your child fill them up with the essentials like; glue sticks, scissors, tape, pencils, markers, crayons, paper scraps, pom poms, beads, pipe cleaners, (see our Kidcasso Supply List for ideas).
This can be extended into a project of its own, by categorizing materials into shape and color. Place all cool color crayons into one container and the warm colors in another. Making supplies tangible is what self-discovery is all about!
Think about how a chef operates. They have their salts, oils and seasonings right beside them as they begin to cook. Carpenters wear their tools on a belt. Gardeners have a potting bench. Artists and learners need their tools, as well.
Organization lessens frustration and fosters self-awareness, while building confidence in what you are learning and/or creating! This all equals empowerment for your child and gives them the opportunity to own the space in which they learn, play, and create in.
Set your workspace up for the success you want! Stop, Look, and Listen.
It’s All in the Details: Working with Senses
-Essential Oil Diffusers with lemon and lavender
-Music can inspire or elevate your child's learning mood or style
-Touch and Feel, this can be in the seating or the table
-Lighting Concepts, bright or dim, what does your child's lighting say about their learning styles?
-Items that inspire and make us feel good: vision boards, family photos, favorite toy or stuffed animals, photos of special memories
Teacher Tip: There is not just one way to learn. There is not one way to create. Find your way and then help guide your child to find theirs. Be open to their ideas, even if drastically different from yours. There is nothing wrong with the child who wears cozy pjs while snuggled in bed as they learn. Just as there is nothing wrong with the child who wakes up with the sun and needs to sit in a quiet place with no distractions. Space is unique to us and how we create that space can change and evolve over time. Kids just need the support and confidence that they can build the learning space in which they want to learn.