Tips on Creating Kid-Friendly Workstations For At-Home Learning
Designer Killy Scheer helps parents set up creative and comfortable study areas
By Vanessa Blankenship
Online learning became a new normal for students in Austin last year as the coronavirus stormed across the nation. While Travis County is still in Stage 5 Covid-19 risk levels, Austin Public Health and other top officials urge school districts to extend virtual programs.
Some students have been learning remotely since April when schools first shut down, and one key to navigating online learning is to create a space where kids can address their academic and social needs.
Killy Scheer, the founder of the Austin-based boutique interior design firm Scheer & Co., shared tips on designing a dedicated workstation for children, so they have a place to focus on their studies.
“What kids need is not entirely different from what adults need, as far as workspaces,” says Scheer. “They need enough space, organization, lighting, ergonomics, all the details that come into play just like it does for any adult.”
Scheer shared four tips and tricks to keep your child motivated and learning with a new at-home workstation:
Every child has their own unique learning style, and Scheer recommends embracing their study habits by experimenting with multiple zones around the house.
“Maybe they have a desk zone, and that’s where they do some work, but then they may move to their beanbag chair in their room or move to a little spot outside,” Scheer says. “When they need flexibility, the boundaries are there to keep them focused. And also, to keep a little bit of order, because a lot of parents are also working from home.”
To add a bit of color and creativity, Scheer recommends paint treatments or non-permanent peel-and-stick wallpaper to give an area more presence.
“That’s a really inexpensive, impermanent way to give a little life and personality to a bedroom or a little workspace without spending a ton of money,” Scheer says.
Keep It Organized
Scheer says the trick to keeping a space organized is integrating everyday essentials to fit into the overall design scheme. If you’re looking to refresh your shelves and stash away educational materials, parents can try adding wicker storage baskets to tie the room together with a bit of texture and style.
“We always come up with storage solutions, and now that kids are home, they really need everything at their fingertips,” Scheer says. “It’s important to keep all their school supplies in a container right next to them, so they don’t have to get up during a lesson to search for a pencil. I recommend desks with shelves or shelving above and bulletin boards for pinning up notes.”
Make It Personal
“We involve the kids in the process,” says Scheer of designing a space where kids can be productive and creative. “That’s something that parents can do, too. So, what we do in our design processes [is to] cull through all the noise and then come up with a few options that we think work and show our clients the very edited down, curated version of all the options, so it’s not overwhelming.”
“Our process is very tactile and hands-on,” Scheer says. “We like to have all the materials and the finishes laid out in front of our clients, and that goes for kids too. If we add wallpaper or desk finishes or lighting, images and actual physical samples are really helpful. It helps our adult clients, but it also helps kids really imagine it and get excited.”
“Lighting is crucial for any designed space,” Scheer says. “It’s important when you want to have a handful of different levels of lighting. So, there’s the ambient indirect way. That’s overhead lighting, task lighting, which would be just for meetings specifically or working at a desk, and then accent or decorative lighting. So maybe there’s a sconce, it gives off a little ambient light, but it creates a level. I put dimmers everywhere I possibly can. And I think that also gives you even more options, layers of options.”
Scheer recommends this light fixture because it comes in an array of colors, and it’s the ideal table lamp for any workspace.
“Ergonomics is another one; we all need to be comfortable,” Scheer explains. “We all need to think about posture. If you can get your kids a standup, give them options to stand up or sit down, which is a lot of the same needs as adults.”