As back-to-school season approaches, so too comes the reality that many students will remain in full-time remote learning for the foreseeable future, while others will be relegated to at least several days a week spent “at school” from home. In Los Angeles and San Diego, for example, the decision has already been made that kids will stay home; in New York City, it seems a split schedule is likely.
To help the scores of students who will be studying remote this fall (and the parents who have become de-facto teachers), we reached out to educators, curriculum specialists, medical professionals, school administrators, and other experts for advice for at-home learning. We also inquired about helpful products, from school planners to blue light glasses, which we’ve organized by age group, from kindergarten all the way through eighth grade (and for those with teens in the house, we have you covered, too).
One point all experts agree on is that a child must have a specific spot for his or her remote learning — and this space needs good lighting, sufficient ventilation, and plenty of room to accommodate textbooks, laptops, notebooks, and any other necessary academic materials, as well as an organization system the student can manage with little to no assistance. Dr. Lee Scott, chair of the Educational Advisory Board with The Goddard School, explains that while “you do not need to create a complete classroom in your home, they do need a dedicated learning space. It will help your children focus when they are using the space and use other areas in the home for media time, play time, and so on.” Ahead, everything you need to outfit your kid — or kids’ — study space.
Remote learning gear for all ages
Adequate light, beyond a glaring overhead, can make all the difference when it comes to at-home schooling. “I use a TaoTronics dimmable desk lamp,” says Javier Arroyo, co-founder of online math learning platform Smartick, because its bright LEDs can compensate for a lack of “natural lighting needed for the atmosphere for study.” Any desk lamp will do, but this one has a small base and long, slender head that can illuminate a large work area, and it can be toggled to multiple brightness settings. Plus, the USB charger in the base helps keep a tablet, phone, or other device that may be used in remote learning powered up with less cord clutter.
Blue light glasses
“Many of my younger patients experience a noticeable reduction of eyestrain with their blue light blocking glasses,” says Dr. Jordan Kassalow, partner at Farkas, Kassalow, Resnick & Associates. Mitigating eye strain associated with hours of screen time can lead to better sleep at night, help with dry eyes and headaches, and may even reduce “the chances of macula degeneration,” which is worth mentioning, as Dr. Kassalow notes a recent “significant uptick in the number of kids who are becoming myopic,” or nearsighted.
Dry erase squares
No matter how old your kid is, these removable and endlessly reusable dry erase squares “are a game-changer when used to create weekly or daily schedules,” says Laura Grill, chief academic officer with SchoolHouse, an educational support and tutoring company. The squares can be rearranged and written on over and over. They can be used for math equations, study notes, daily schedules, or, as Grill suggests, to “create word walls of frequently used or misspelled words.”