How to Optimize Your Student’s Online Learning Environment
by iFoster | September 17, 2020

Students and families across the country are needing to embrace a new normal for the 2020-2021 school year. Not only is the world around us different, but the immediate four walls are a different scenery than we’re used to seeing during back-to-school season. Whether you’re doing it every day or just a few days a week, it’s important to optimize your online learning environment at home.

Find a Dedicated Learning Space

Our brains tend to associate activities with specific spaces, so it can be hard at first to get in a learning groove at home. Try to find a dedicated learning space in your home – even if it’s only set up during the “school day.”

  • A desk in your bedroom or living room.
  • A space at the kitchen table that can be setup in the morning and moved for dinner time.
  • Try to avoid sitting on your bed. A spot that’s too comfortable can make it hard to focus.

Your learning space should consist of a flat surface that’s big enough to lay out your equipment, textbooks, and notebooks.

Get the Right Tools for Your Learning Space

Now that you have a dedicated area to work in, there are a few accessories that may be helpful. Some of these simple additions can help you stay focused.

  • Use a comfortable chair.
  • Make sure your space has enough lighting so you can read your textbooks and take notes.
  • Keep your school supplies close by so you can grab them when needed, but they don’t clutter your learning space. Explore the iFoster Portal for discounts on school supplies.

Speaking of tools, make sure all of your tech devices are functioning properly and set up for success.  

Minimize Distractions

It can be difficult to focus at home with so many distractions. There are a few easy tips to help minimize distractions so you can focus on school work.

  • Construct a learning divider. This easy setup can be made out of cardboard and propped up in your learning space.
    • Consider “decorating” your divider with your schedule, to-do list or a motivational quote.
  • Avoid using your cell phone, browsing social media sites or watching television during the school day. This was a rule when you were going to an actual school building, so try to keep that same rule when you learn at home.
  • Explore internet plug-ins or apps that help students stay focused on the task at hand.

Stick to a Schedule

This may be one of the most important ways to optimize your learning environment at home. Sticking to a daily schedule helps keep us motivated and focused. Don’t you want to finish your homework in a timely fashion so you can do a more relaxing activity? Here are some tips for sticking to a schedule:

  • Keep it as similar as possible each day. Reserve quiet learning for the morning, take a break mid-day and incorporate some more interactive activities in the afternoon, for example. Here are some more example schedules for all grade levels.
  • Make it visual! This is especially helpful for younger children. Draw out a schedule with a small picture of the activity. This way, your student can be involved in the schedule and know what’s coming next.
  • Put your schedule where you can see it! Maybe pin it to your learning divider, or put it on a wall next to your learning space.

Make Time for Breaks

Make sure when you’re building that schedule, it includes breaks throughout the day! You need to get up and stretch your legs, move your eyes away from the screen and even get some fresh air. This article explains the benefits of “brain breaks” in students of all ages.

  • Try to incorporate your breaks at the same time each day so you can keep a good routine.
  • Make physical activity part of your routine. Exercising outside, if weather permits, is even better!
    • In one study, kids were 20 percent faster at learning vocabulary words after they’d exercised than when they hadn’t.

Leverage Your Network

These are difficult times, and it’s important to lean in to those around you that can help. Whether it’s interacting with friends, family, and classmates, or your broader support network.

These resources for setting up an optimum learning space for foster youth in addition to a large network of other programs and services that iFoster offers are instrumental in paving successful futures for our foster children. Additionally, the government and many other organizations currently do not provide these kinds of resources for kinship families. iFoster, however, caters to kinship families, foster caregivers, foster youth, agencies in the child welfare community, and many more.

Become A iFoster Member for Free

If you believe you are eligible to become an iFoster member, join us for free and gain access to thousands of useful resources that can change the lives of the foster care community for the better. Remember: once you are an iFoster member, you have access to these benefits forever!

To become a member of the iFoster community and take advantage of these amazing foster care resources — plus gain a network of trusted foster care allies — register here today.

Explore the other two posts in this three-part series on successful at-home learning.

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