As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, it looks like most of us won’t be returning to a traditional school set up anytime soon. As parents, we are eager to set up our children for success in a distance learning environment, but what does that really look like?
It’s tough to replicate an in-person learning experience, but ultimately, technology is key to getting through these unprecedented times. Make the homeschooling experience easy for your children—and yourself—by arming yourself with the best tools. Here are a few tips regarding what you need to take to help your kids stay focused, engaged, and motivated while learning from home.
For more relevant products, check out Newegg’s homeschooling page
Organize your homeschooling spaces
First, each student needs a dedicated space to work. Having a learning workspace helps children differentiate when it’s time for school, and when it’s not. They’ll be mentally ready to learn, knowing that when they sit down that they’re prepared for class. This workspace should hold their laptop, chargers, and the supplies they need: paper, sharpened pencils, notebooks, and Post-it notes to jot down reminders, assignments, and a calendar for due dates.
Additionally, students are likely to spend hours at their workstations, so it’s a good idea to make them as comfortable as possible. Between class meetings, studying, doing homework, and collaborating on group projects, they can spend anything from five to eight hours in front of a screen all day. Make sure they’re protected from long-term harm by providing peripherals that will keep them healthy.
We’ll run through each of the items that comprise a good virtual learning workspace set-up one by one.
Choose a desk for school that can hold all of your essentials, like your laptop, printer, and school supplies. If you live in a tiny apartment with limited space, lap desks or a laptop stand can be a good desk substitute. A laptop stand—which lifts and tilts your computer—can hold your laptop securely in place at eye-level height, which means no neck straining, at an ergonomic angle that won’t lead to wrist pain.
Chairs for learning at home
One benefit of learning from home is not having to use hard classroom chairs. Consider using a gaming chair to benefit from inexpensive ergonomic features. They’re our chair of choice here at the Newegg offices. If you are sitting in one place for hours on end, you can’t beat a memory cushioned seat, and adjustable features for lumbar support.
Many students these days opt for Chromebooks, the de facto learning device for many school districts, as their PC of choice for school work. In particular, the Asus Chromebook Flip stands out for students because it has a long battery life, a beautiful design and vibrant display at an affordable price. If offers enough performance that allows students to take notes, check e-mails, reference online materials, and stream live classes all at once.
While many classrooms are trying to work in a paperless environment, there are still worksheets, assignments, and exams that your kids usually have to print and fill out. A multifunction printer combines all the features you will need, such as paper printing, photo printing, and scanning in one compact device. For students at home, our pick is the HP Envy because it is affordable, produces great quality prints, has an easy-to-navigate menu, and doesn’t take up much space.
Online homeschooling resources
Supplies for planning and preparing
While students are receiving their assignments online when distance learning, they are still using lots of paper. Notebooks and office supplies remain relevant in digital learning scenarios. A three-ring binder is the best way to organize all those worksheets and packets. (Don’t buy one-inch binders—they are good for nothing.) Get a portable three-hole puncher so the kids can hole-punch and organize their own papers as well.
The challenge for older students—who have assignments and deadlines from multiple classes—is keeping track of the information they get. Assignments may fall off their radar as their emails pile up, so creating a calendar on a whiteboard for a home office can be your saving grace. Hang it in your children’s work area and use it to help them chart their various meetings and assignments. You can also buy a set of different colored Expo dry erase markers and assign each family member their own color. At nighttime, go over the next day’s schedule so that everyone is ready to work in the morning. (Don’t forget to schedule breaks throughout the day—your kids need free time to exercise, relax, and just play!)
Essential peripherals and I/O devices for homeschooling
Avoid having your children use a laptop trackpad for hours, as that can cramp their hand muscles and lead to discomfort. Get a wireless or USB mouse that can be used on any surface, including glass, and a rechargeable battery. A value pick is this Logitech wireless mouse, which costs less than $25 and works well with various hand sizes.
USB expanders and hubs
A USB hub would keep everything your student needs on their desk so they don’t have to choose between charging their phone, their iPad, or plugging in a flash drive. Additionally, if you have desktop monitors you’d like to use in conjunction with a laptop, it facilitates a quick and easy conversion into a desktop experience. If your charging hub has a power switch for each port so you can turn them on and off individually, that would be even better for your utility bill.
If your student is using a desktop computer and not a laptop with a camera built in, a USB web cam is a vital tool for distance learning. Choose one that can multitask, which will allow you to produce YouTube content, live stream your games, monitor your home and even join online workout sessions. This Logitech HD webcam is a value buy as it works with all video conferencing software, records in HD, and automatically focuses, and corrects harsh and dim light conditions, with a built-in noise-canceling mic.
Not only are headphones an organizational tool, they’re also a sanity tool for those who are working alongside their children. One with a microphone can be handy for Zoom meetings or assignments that require students to record their voices. Gaming headphones are a legitimate option here, with noise-canceling surround sound features that help students focus on the teacher and the class during group collaborations.
Last but not least, stay clean and safe at home
One study says your keyboard is dirtier than a toilet seat, and in the time of coronavirus, it’s even more important to keep your keyboard and peripheral tools as clean as possible. Use this slime cleaner, which you press onto your keyboard to lifts away dust and debris, then disinfect your computer, keyboard and headphones with these electronics wipes that don’t leave any residue. One item that’s more economical is this washable Chromebook keyboard cover that you can wipe off—or wash with soap and water. This is especially important if your school district is considering cycling in students and offering a hybrid homeschooling/on-campus model of education.
For more relevant products, check out Newegg’s homeschooling page