Not so long ago in a land far away, family computers were the reserve of Peppa Pig YouTube videos and the like. Now, in the crazy times that are 2021, that modest desk in the corner of your dining room has likely gone from rare usage to daily deluges. And, with predictions that the latest school closures will last until March or beyond, that situation doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

The trouble is that your home desk, wherever it may be, likely isn’t set up for round-the-clock learning. As such, you may be among the millions of parents struggling to make a real go of this whole homeschooling thing. 

A hand on a laptop keyboard, an iphone and a notebook and pen on the desk next to it
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Take a deep breath. You aren’t alone, and you certainly aren’t expected to get this right first time (or second.) Rather, success here is all about reevaluating each day and taking pains to overcome problems that arise during these unprecedented lessons.

Most notably, now is the ideal time to consider your home computer. In many ways, this is the crux of your teaching right now, so problems probably originate here. With that in mind, keep reading to find out five simple ways to transform the modest home computer into a mean learning machine almost overnight. 

Make the space your own

If your family computer hasn’t been used much until this point, the chances are that it’s not the most personalised space in the world. That’s bad news because your kids will never truly feel relaxed there. Even in school classrooms, this is an issue that displays attempt to overcome, and it’s something you need to work past, too.

For one thing, sticking up artwork, etc. that your kids do during the day is guaranteed to bring this area of your home alive. You could even go all out with a few pictures of the family together. Or, why not design a personalised mouse mat to add that personal touch to their time online? Getting creative with something as simple as your desktop or screensaver picture could also help your kids feel a little more like this is their area. And, if they feel at home when they enter your virtual classroom each day, the chances are that they’ll produce much better work as a result. 

A girl sitting on a woman's knee, looking at a laptop
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Set Restrictions

There are some fantastic educational resources on the net right now, but there’s also a world of distraction. Even for young kids, simply knowing how to get onto YouTube could lead to hours away from lessons that you won’t always be around to monitor. This, and the risk of your kids ending up in the wrong corner of the net as they spend more time online, makes internet restrictions a must. 

The good news is that setting parental controls to oversee or restrict online usage is now easier than ever. Using programs like Google’s Chrome is especially useful, as you can quite literally list which sites your children can access. Equally, changing parental settings on individual sites like YouTube ensures your kids can easily access educational material without falling down a web-sized hole. 

Remove External Distractions

While distractions to your home school will largely originate online, it’s worth noting that external distractions also pose some problems. After all, your kids are suddenly without the discipline of the classroom environment, and they may find it difficult to switch from school to home time without any physical distance between the two. Therefore, the more distractions you remove from your working area, the better chance they have of getting some decent learning done. 

Largely, you want to remove anything from this space that isn’t somehow lesson related. If you can, get rid of things like bookshelves or games, and even try to remove household basics like laundry. In fact, all you really need in this area are the personalised items we spoke about, some pens and paper, and the little people in your lives. For the most part, anything else is probably just going to make your life a whole lot harder.

A girl sitting at a desk and looking at a laptop. She is biting down on a pencil.
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Lock The Door

Speaking of distractions, people moving in and out of your homeschooling computer space will most certainly unravel lessons, leaving your kids unfairly unable to learn. Whether their dad pops in to say hello or the dog comes to see where everyone is, each distraction could set you back by as much as an hour or more each day. If this happens often, then your efforts to teach will be over before they’ve started.

The only thing that you can do to address this issue is stick a lock on the door, or at least a metaphorical one. Whether you’re working in a home office or a dining room, sticking a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door will literally make the world of difference. 

Make sure, too, to lock everything else firmly outside in other ways. For instance, disconnecting phones and any online chat features while you’re working ensures that nothing can crop up at the worst possible moment. 

Arrive at the same time each day

Things are strange right now and, because of that, there’s a real temptation to let timings fall by the wayside. After all, it isn’t like you’ve got anywhere to be! The trouble is that the brain works in mysterious ways, and those ways usually require some form of routine. Kids, especially, tend to flag later on in the day because this has always been their downtime. By suddenly shifting learning to those periods, you give yourself an uphill mountain to climb before you’ve even started.

Instead, you’ll probably find that your learning space works better for you if you arrive there at the same time each day. Some of the teacher-led learning resources schools are providing are a fantastic way to perfect this issue, but remember that it’s important to set your alarm, too. Then, make sure you get your kids to that desk by the time they’d normally arrive at school, and sit back to see how much better your next lesson goes.

This is a collaborative post.