Welcome to “Spark Joy” Homeschool Session!
As we all know, the 2020 school year is starting out much differently than in the past. Getting our students ready to learn and study from home, or participating in a hybrid model, is causing many parents to feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start to create a calm, focused learning space.
Recently, during a “Shea Saturdays” event at Kensington in Bressi Ranch in Carlsbad, we asked Tricia Fidler, Certified KonMari Consultant with Heywood Park Collective, to share tips and products to help you get organized for school!
Choose a location in your home: could be a spare bedroom, office or corner of the family room. Quite often what works best is the kitchen or dining table. The key is to be flexible and ask your students what environment works best for them. The tips mentioned here will work well in any situation whether it’s creating a workstation in a shared common area or in a home office repurposed.
Create a VISION.
Step #1 in the KonMari Method™ is to pause and ask what an ideal home study/school station might look and feel like.
Include your students! What is their ideal way to study?
If they must do their schooling at home, what would your students want in that space?
If it’s at the kitchen table, what would work best for them? Reflect on last spring when school went remote. What worked then? What didn’t work?
Engage your students in this conversation.
By planning their own study area, they’ll learn resourcefulness, adaptability, and problem solving…and some organization skills!
Use a trifold project board to create “cubicles” for privacy during school hours. Let your children decorate and add pockets or information they need at hand. It can be movable and easy to tidy up for a multi-use table – like when it’s dinner time.
Desktop surfaces are for creating, learning, and working, not for storage.
Keeping the desktop area clear of clutter makes it easier to keep clean and stay focused on learning.
Envision a SCHEDULE.
Having structure builds confidence and grounds us when we are being asked to be self-directed. There are three types of schedule reminders that can be helpful:
a whiteboard calendar shows the big picture.
a personal whiteboard can outline a personal daily schedule from waking up to end of school day.
a printout of class periods provided by the school or teacher: slip it into a clear protector and keep it visible either on the trifold or on the desktop displayed upright.
Before purchasing new supplies, you can declutter old supplies from last year and see if items can be reused or repurposed. Pull out ALL the items from last year’s backpack, desks, bedrooms, kitchen drawers to take an inventory by category of what still sparks joy.
By seeing school supplies sorted by category you will be less likely to repeat purchase or overbuy. Include your students and ask them to select (after items are sorted by category – pens with pens, sharpies with sharpies etc.) and keep only those that spark joy.
If a teacher requires a certain item, and your students don’t feel it sparks joy, remind them that getting the work completed in a successful way might depend on that item and to think of the good feeling they get when the work is completed.
Follow the KonMari categories books, paper, komono (supplies) to complete this inventory. Then make a list to purchase items still needed.
Before setting up, give the desktop a good wipe down!
ORGANIZING BY CATEGORY
We want to keep our surfaces as clear as possible and books can be cumbersome while navigating computer keyboards etc.
Establish a rule: only one book on the desktop at a time so that when a subject is finished the book(s) get stored either in a closed bin nearby or an open bin by subject. Make it easy to pull out and put back!
Rethink the use of traditional binders – keep a few on hand, however your students may find them challenging to write in or use while navigating Zoom classes.
Paper creates the most clutter in classrooms and study spaces – the sheer volume of worksheets, printouts, assignments, and exercises mean we need to find a logical way to store and access.
Use vertical holders like magazine files labeled “Practice” “To Be Completed” and “Completed” to help your grade school student keep track of assignments and in class work. Or the larger clear multi-purpose bins to store larger artwork or lab reports.
Following the KonMari Method™ framework guides us to the next category to organize. There is no pausing and jumping into another area and leaving things undone. We finish each category as we go.
Komono is the Japanese word for miscellaneous. This category includes some of the smallest and most cluttery items in our home school set up. Pens, pencils, glue sticks, markers, rulers, scissors etc.
Store these items vertically organized by type. Like with like! Much easier to reset and put back. Everything has a home!
Perhaps the most helpful product of our KonMari Homeschool plan is the movable cart. This cart is easy to set up and has three shelves to hold vertical paper storage, komono, and even a water bottle or snacks on the bottom. And it’s completely MOBILE so as your students move or need to relocate, the supplies and papers can go with them.
Speaking of mobile, if your students are doing a hybrid form of school, keep a backpack on a hook nearby with a complete set of pens, pencils, calculator, face mask, water bottle etc. -- only used for taking to school. Having a separate set of items eliminates some of the disruption to changing learning environments every other day.
KOMONO - TECHNOLOGY
The desktop computer, laptop or iPad brings the teacher and classmates into your homeschool space. Positioning the screen at comfortable eye level can alleviate physical strain to your students’ neck and posture. Using a monitor riser brings the screen up and allows for some extra storage area underneath. There are several on the market, but you can even make one at home. Be creative – a delivery box or container, a large shoe box, shelf riser, coffee table books, etc. This doesn’t need to break the bank.
With technology comes cords! Managing all the wires connecting headphones, mouse, hard drives, tablets, phones, can be overwhelming. As we strive to keep the surface clear, cords can really get in the way!
Create a charging station with a multi-plug so all electronics can be charged from the same outlet. Corral the cords by using zip ties or individual ties. Attach the cords to the surface underneath or on the side.
Headphones (over the ear are especially good)
Headphone storage – a rack or small hook to hang them on to keep them off desktop
Troubleshoot the WiFi, Zoom applications, microphone, etc. before the first day of school.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your school if you need help.
Schedule a screen break mid-day
PERSONAL POWER SPOT
We have organized all the tools for learning and found a home for everything. Remember to plan a reset at the end of the day, or, at a minimum, at the end of a week!
One final tip that can help is to choose an item (something that sparks joy) to create a personal power spot. This is where your students can regain energy and be reminded that not everything is task and toil!
Ask them to pick something to have in their space that reminds them of who they are or that brings a smile. It can be something they bought on vacation, a trophy they earned, something they made, or a plant! It can live in a drawer or be on the desktop off to the side. It could be a corner in the family room surrounded by a few specially chosen items so when they take a break, it brings them joy.
We are all being asked to pull from within and redirect ourselves and our families. Our students are needing to be more self-driven than ever before. This can deplete our energy. Staying mindful and motivated will be our challenge as parents as we teach our children how to do the same.
Wishing all the best as you use the KonMari Method™ to create your school from home this season. If you find you want additional help or ideas, reach out to Tricia Fidler at www.heywoodpark.com to schedule a virtual session.
Remember we are all in this together!
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