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Apartment Therapy CEO reveals how to create the perfect homeschool environment

Now's the time to start planning!

Written by
Danielle Valente

The fall 2020 school term is the most complicated one parents have experienced...and it hasn't even begun. 

Moms and dads in New York City, and all over the country for that matter, aren't just scrambling to pick up notebooks and fall clothes. They're tracking down the proper PPE equipment and figuring out the safest way for their children to learn. Honestly: It's exhausting. 

But the good news is that there is a way to make this new norm functional for young scholars. Maxwell Ryan, the CEO of Apartment Therapy, offers his tips and tricks to creating the perfect workspace right from home. Whether your kids are participating in the blended learning model or a completely remote curriculum, you can count on them hanging around the house now more than ever. (Yes, it feels like apartments and schools are one in the same.)

Using his background and experience working from home with his teenage daughter, Ryan points all parents in the right direction. Get ready to buy some string lights and have fun creating an academic oasis! 

Tip one: Set up shop in your child's room.

We know that space in New York City apartments isn't always generous, so the best way to create a work environment is to set up an area in your child's bedroom. It'll give everyone in the family some breathing room, especially since it's likely all of your brood is working from home for the time being. 

Tip two: Make sure there's adequate lighting. 

"Since they're not getting out of the house much, put the desk as close to natural light as possible," Ryan says.

Even so, shorter days are on the way, so it's important to have as much light as possible—and not just coming from your child's desk. 

"My daughter found string lights—really simple, really affordable—and she strung them around the bed, and that lights up the good deal of the room." 

Functional and adorable! (Check out some string lights online.) 

kids bedroom apartment therapy
Photograph: Courtesy Marisa Vitale for Apartment Therapy

Tip three: Give the kids options.

Ultimately, no parent wants to see their kid curled up in bed during a Zoom algebra class. To avoid the tempting, dangerous confines of their beds, give them other options. 

"I think the goal is here, since this is such a weird, long day, to have two work spaces: a desk and some type of comfortable chair so that those are their workspaces and the bed is for sleeping," Ryan says. 

Tip four: Don't be afraid to clean—and even redecorate. 

Ryan's daughter has asked to take the lead on shaping her space. 

"Because she's been home, there's been a lot of emphasis on redoing her room," he says. "Bedrooms during the regular year tend to be a place you come and go from‚ and you sleep in and maybe you set it up and things get sort of static and dusty. So, absolutely for the fall, we're dong a deep cleaning of the room and with that she's got some ideas for redecorating it."

Not only is this a way for kids to feel connected to their makeshift classroom, but cleaning will help them stay focused. 

"It tends to give [the room] a nice fresh energy. That's what they need when they're going to be sitting for long hours and not getting out of the house as much." 

With a small budget, she's been able to figure out what she truly needs and how to make her space personal. (Tezza collage kits are to thank!)

kids bedroom apartment therapy
Photograph: Courtesy Marisa Vitale for Apartment Therapy

Tip five: Invest in a good laundry basket.

Though it's not a typical item on those back-to-school supply lists, a laundry basket will help kids keep their space decluttered when they're signing onto virtual classes. 

Tip six: Create routines.

Though Ryan and his daughter typically work in separate rooms, they reconvene in the kitchen around 1pm for lunch. It's a good way to break up the monotony of the day and interact with loved ones. When he wraps up his work day around 6, they typically look to head outside, whether it's for a walk or a short trip to the beach.

Tip seven: Buy rugs when things get too loud. 

"I have a bunch of rugs layered on top of one another. If sound is an issue rugs are your friend," Ryan says. "They will absorb sound and quiet down any room."

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