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Fun should be at core of home school space

Girl at computer
(alexngm - stock.adobe.com)

For a home-schooling space, my first goal is to create something that is enjoyable and exciting. The minute that someone steps into the room I want them to say, “This is a fun and creative space. This is where I can do a lot of neat things.”

There are various concepts, fundamentals and ideas to consider while creating a home-schooling space where children of all ages can learn, study and develop their minds. Let’s take a closer look.

Lighting

Natural light and interesting artificial light are critical to the success of the space. Even if an existing room is converted into a home-schooling space, a larger than average window can offer an all-important outside view. Changeable light enhances the experience and can make the space feel differently, encouraging kids to go into the room at different times of day.

Task and/or mood lighting, targeted light, such as over a chair can make for a special work area, or bright and warm lighting can bring a certain energy and make the space feel more personal.

Comfy furnishings

The space should include a well-defined space for a desk and a suitable comfortable chair and maybe a “crash pad” for stretching out. This soft space is used more often than you might think. Remember that the soft and movable components create a place for the kids to be creative and work, stretch a little, and read.

Writing surface for students of all ages must be a classic arrangement – with two feet on the floor, and a writing surface that is at least 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Just as with adults, the surface cannot be wobbly, and it requires good lighting and some interesting features. Put up a pinboard surface that can be read from the chair, for notes and reminders, including a picture or two, and a calendar.

Unusual angles and special furnishings can make the space unique, too. Get the children involved in selecting these elements and allow them to move them around.

Bookshelves

Bookshelves, which I think should always be built-in, can be customized to fit individual lifestyle and needs. Bookshelves lend themselves to library elements, because finally there is a place for all of those books collected over the years. These shelves cannot be wobbly; even children sense when something is temporary or has an “optional” feeling, and they respond to a sense that things are durable and supportive.

Technology and environment

A computer with the proper connections is not only the center of the home school, but it is crucial in today’s learning environment. Distractions should be minimized, so I suggest no TV, video gaming and cell phones in the room. There is no architectural solution to these distractions, except that these modern necessities should be in a different place.

A traditional school has its own personality of noises – part of the experience and the sense of community while in school. Similarly, nontraditional residential noises are cues to a different experience.

Additional points

  • Consider easy to clean surfaces for the floor, desk or table and chairs
  • Create a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment for both heating and cooling
  • Keep in mind the desired access to the rest of the house. Remember, some access is desirable, but too much can be a problem.
  • This is for the children, and their views and abilities change frequently, so what worked one year could be quite different in another. Enjoy every minute of it, and you will see your child change their uses and appreciation of their space as well.

Paul Benton is an architect with Alcorn & Benton Architects in La Jolla. He has been designing projects in San Diego and throughout Southern California for more than 30 years. To learn more visit www.alcornbenton.com or call (858) 459-0805.