When we first started with virtual school in the spring of 2020 with a kindergarten student, I had no clue what I was doing. Our original work space was the coffee table in the living room. I quickly found that my kiddo needed more structure to help keep her focused. So together, we designed her own little classroom in the corner of our living room. Now that she is going into first grade, we have made a few minor enhancements. Overall, we both love the area. We call it our “Ready to Learn Space”.
We used a Step 2 Flip and Doodle Desk she had been given a few years earlier for her work station. It is truly perfect because it has places to put her crayons, pencils, markers, scissors, and erasers. Plus, we saved one of the bigger boxes on it for her to put her favorite things in. Whatever she feels she has to have with her for the day can go into that box.
Beside her work station, I placed a small end table that I could use for my work station. This is where I put all of our assignments and lessons for the day/week/month. I usually put what we are working on for the day on the top of the table, and everything that is planned under the table. This allows me to not only keep organized, but I have everything in one spot if she decides she wants to learn more about something we’re working on specifically. We also utilize this table for her computer if we are doing online work that she doesn’t want to do on her tablet.
For tablet time and online time, my two favorite go-to “learn and play” activities for her have been ReadingEggs and ABCMouse. My biggest problem with ReadingEggs was after the 45 day trial we had of the product, I couldn’t continue using it. They don’t accept Discover card, and that is the only credit card we have. But I do highly recommend their math and reading program for kindergarten and first grade supplemental online curriculum. My daughter enjoyed both of them.
For decorations, I lucked out and found a lot of stuff in the Back to School Supplies Section at Michaels. For ess than $10 we snagged some cute posters and learning tools that not only added decoration to the area but also reenforced what we are learning. Plus, I have two spots to feature her favorite projects of the week. I let her hang those up at the end of the week.
Rewarding Good Work & Behavior
One of the things I found my child needed was a reward system to keep her motivated about learning and focused on the task at hand. In her kindergarten classroom she had a behavior chart that could earn her a penny a day for good behavior and classroom manners. When she reached 10 pennies, she could buy one thing out of the prize box. She truly looked forward to this, so we setup our own classroom store. Most of the items available in the store are clearnece items I found for under $1 at Dollar General or WalMart. A few of the items are bigger items that she really wants to earn.
We set up our reward system a little different than what the kindergarten teacher had done. I found a set of reward sticker charts at the local Dollar Tree. She earns one sticker a day if she has good behavior and stays motivated to do her work. When she gets five stickers in a row, she can pick one prize out of the box in the store. The box is full of smaller items that all cost less than $1 each to purchase. When the entire sticker chart is full, she can pickout one of the bigger items outside of the box in the store. This keeps her motivated without breaking the bank.
I also discovered that she was truly motivated by stickers. I was able to find a large set of 500 puffy stickers on Amazon. Each week I would hang 3 of the sheets of stickers on the wall. Each time she successfully completed a worksheet, computer assignment, or hands-on learning activity, she got to pick one sticker to put into a sticker book (a blank journal I had). Each day we would practice writing the date at the top of the journal. Then she would add stickers to it as she completed assignments. If she had breakdowns or refused to work, she didn’t get a sticker. Usually when that happened, we would take a 10-15 minute break to regroup. I also discovered that she liked to rush through her math work and not check it. To help slow that down, if she got every answer right on her math worksheets the first time, she would get to pick two stickers.
When she started to get bored of the puffy stickers, I mixed it up by adding scratch-n-sniff stickers, also available fairly cheap on Amazon. Now we rotate between these two types of stickers, and she truly gets excited each time she gets to pick out a reward sticker for a job well done.
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