If your child is headed back to school, that likely means something a little different this year (or it’s a new experience altogether for you). Whether they are going back to a physical location, turning into completely online students or some combination of the two could mean you’re left having to create some semblance of a classroom in your home. (As cases of coronavirus continue to affect school reopenings, the fully online model seems to be the new reality.) Just as it can be difficult for us adults to differentiate work and home life right now, students are facing (or will be facing) similar struggles, too. However, there are some steps you can take to make this transition a little easier on your student.
Having been a teacher for two years, there are a couple of items I would recommend students have access to in their home workstation. Most importantly, try to create a space dedicated to school work if you can. I struggled to establish a work-from-home space in my shoebox Brooklyn apartment. But once I did, I felt a significant change in the separation of work and home life. Something as simple as a dedicated desk (or at least a surface meant for schoolwork) can make all the difference and help you aim for an increasingly stable school day for your child.
What to shop for your at-home classroom
1. Hadlock Desk
This desk is a great fit if you’re tight on space — it’s 20 inches deep and 40 inches wide. Its one-step assembly makes it easy to put together and you can fold it up once the school day is done for easier storage. Just add a desk lamp and an ergonomic chair, and you’ve created a dedicated workspace for your student. The black metal frame and wooden top give it a clean industrial design, and it is available in both Brown and Cherry. The surface is meant to be waterproof, which is ideal for those children prone to spills.
Help your student keep their workspace in order with this metal mesh organizer. It sports six compartments, including a pull-out drawer that’s ideal for storing folders, writing utensils, art supplies, note cards and more. It comes in two colors, Silver and Black. Over 1,800 Amazon reviewers left it with a 4.7-star average rating.
The Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook can help you save on buying notebooks and paper. Using any pen from the Pilot Frixion Line, you can write in this notebook just as you would a regular piece of paper. However, when you wipe it down with a damp cloth, the page will come clean so you can use it again. Your notes won’t disappear forever, either: You can save them onto cloud services through the Rocketbook app for iOS and Android.
Laptops are pretty much the go-to tech item when thinking of online schooling, however, tablets are becoming an increasingly popular school tool. Apple’s latest iPad offers a 10.2-inch retina display ideal for high quality video and games. It has stereo speakers for enhanced sound and can hold up to 32GB of space — you can upgrade for 128GB. Fully charged the battery life lasts up to 10 hours, just enough to get your student through the school day. It comes in Space Gray, Silver and Gold.
Nothing says classroom like your very own white board. The Lockways Magnetic Dry Erase Board is available in multiple sizes, for whatever suits your space best. It includes a dry erase marker, as well as two magnets. This simple addition to a student’s workstation can be a great way for your student to visualize their work, whether that’s going through a math problem or making grammar corrections. If you prefer something more old school, you can always go for a chalkboard instead. And if you want to go with something more modern, consider a Quartet whiteboard easel.
A planner is a great tool to keep your student on track with their classes and assignments. This planner has a two page calendar spread for each month and weekly pages through the entire school year. Additionally, there are lined pages to take notes in for any reminders or to-do lists you need to jot down. This planner is Amazon’s No. 1 bestseller for calendars and planners — and more than 3,400 reviewers on Amazon gave it a 4.7-star average rating.
For your sake and your student’s, you’re going to want to have a pair of headphones they can use for online classes. Luckily, Labor Day is around the corner, which means you’ve got lots of deals on tech, among the rest of the Labor Day sales, to consider. These Powerbeats Pro headphones are wireless (with a wire connecting them to each other), and you can get up to 24 hours of listening with the charging case. They are compatible with both iOS and Android and are available in multiple colors for your student to choose from, including Cloud Pink, Glacier Blue, Ivory, Lava Red, Moss, Navy, and Spring Yellow.
With online classes relying heavily on connectivity, you want to make sure you can keep all those devices juiced up safely with a powerstrip. While most surge protectors will get pushed underneath a table, Tripp Lite’s comes with a clamp mount so you can attach it to your desk for easier access. It also includes two USB ports for your phone and tablet without the need for an AC adapter.
For an enhanced online class experience, consider Logitech’s HD Webcam. With autofocus and light correction features, your student can look their best for class. It’s simple to clip on and comes with stereo audio and dual mics for clear, crisp sound. The webcam also allows you to easily share and create videos, and works with USB 2.0 and 1.1. It includes a shutter to protect your privacy when you’re not on video calls, to boot.