Who’s ready for (virtual) school?: Tips for creating the best home set up for distant learning

Kimberly Lindgren, OTR/L - August 20, 2020

Welcome back to (virtual) school! While we can all agree that school at home is not ideal or what we were hoping for, we are in this together. We have many tips for setting up your home for school success. Get the year started on the right foot by introducing these strategies and set up before or by the first day of school. 

Is your child wiggly when asked to be seated? Part of the problem may be that they do not have enough postural support at the table.

  • Provide postural support. Use a chair with a back and appropriate seat height so that their feet touch the floor--if they don’t, put a box or books on the ground as a footrest.  
  • Try different seating options. It’s helpful to mix it up! Some of our favorite options are: (1) Floor Seat with a clipboard or low table (2) Wobble Chair (3) Yoga Ball Chair (4) Cube Chair --for toddlers 

We know that screen time is dysregulating, but screens are unavoidable for remote learning. 

  • When possible, print it out! Activities, reading materials, etc.--print it out. 
  • Cast videos or instructions to a TV rather than their personal laptop/tablet/device. 
  • Allocate one of your devices to be only for school/work so that the child makes the clear distinction for when it is time for school.  

Desk Area
Set up an environment for success. Use these suggestions to support your child’s attention and school mindset. 

  • Create a space only used for distant learning.
  • Limit visual distractions. Remove posters, put toys in boxes, and reduce clutter as much as possible.
  • Have your child create and decorate a sign “_____’s School Spot”

Fidgets, ‘Tools’, and Movement Breaks
Create a ‘School Tool’ box that the child can select from to help them focus. Switch the ‘tool’ out if your child is no longer using it appropriately. 

  • Weighted Ball for feet to fidget with or place on lap.
  • Theraband on chair legs. Kids LOVE this tool. Allow them to to kick and stretch, all while remaining seated.
  • Movement breaks. Incorporate during transitions (bear walk to the kitchen!) or use a timer for a quick break during a school lesson.
  • Squish Ball and Theraputty. Deep pressure from squishing is calming input.

Establish Routine
When a child knows what to expect throughout their day, they will feel much more emotionally regulated. Try using a visual schedule that has an image of each activity of the day (see our Routines blog for a free template!). Below are some regulating activities to consider including each day. 

  • Quiet Time. Quiet means quiet! Reading a book aloud? Great! But not during quiet time.
  • Movement -- we can’t say it enough! Movement is key for an emotionally regulated child. Start each day with movement and allow for short breaks throughout the day. Have your child help with chores and make sure they get their ‘recess’ and free play time.  
  • Designate specific times to spend with mom/dad. If your child has difficulty separating from you, mark on the schedule when they will see you, such as at lunch or story time.
  • Change out of those pajamas! Help your child get into the school mindset by fully getting ready for the day.

These strategies may take a few times practicing before you see success. If you and your child are still having a hard time implementing these school-at-home strategies we would love to help! Our ‘office hours’ are a great way for us to connect (become a member to join office hours every week!) or contact us anytime.

We hope you all have a smooth transition into this crazy, new school year! :) 


Seating options