Choosing to use the living room as a homeschool space came with its set of challenges. First and foremost, I wanted to still be able to use it as a living room. I did not want to have it taken over as a classroom. Because of this, I needed furniture and technology that would let us set up a functional learning space when we needed it, then easily convert back to a living room when we did not. Our big splurge was the technology. We decided this was worth the investment for us for a few reasons.
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Table Rolling Cart: If you need a portable workspace, I cannot recommend this Table Rolling Cart enough. The materials are sturdy. The storage space is generous and is magnetic if you want to add magnetic organizers. It has a clean, minimalist look. When both sides are propped up, it can easily accommodate at least 2 people.
Chair with Footrest: This Ikea Langur seat is the perfect height for this table. I love that it is made with children in mind, with footrests at two different heights to catch those dangling feet that can sometimes trigger kids to become more distracted. They are also stackable, which is an added bonus if you are creating a convertible workspace. Please note, the seat cushion, which I would recommend for long periods of sitting, is sold separately.
Microphone: This Blue Snowball USB Mic came highly recommended, and we have been pretty happy with it. I like that the “plug and play” feature makes it pretty easy to use, and we felt that the round design, was a little more “user friendly” than a directional mic, that might pick up sound unevenly if children were not facing it correctly. While not an essential tool by any means, this was an important one for us because my daughter speaks quietly, so we didn’t want the teachers misunderstanding what she said or not hear her and think she was not participating. We tried using a headphone with a mic first, but felt the sound quality still sounded muffled, and decided to use an external mic instead.
Webcam: We originally were on the fence about getting a webcam. However, I noticed our laptop camera was really wide, and since it was placed in the living room, it captured evverrrything that was happening in the background all the way to the dining room and hallway. This need for more privacy, along with wanting our daughter’s face to look clearer and larger on her teacher’s screen is what made us decide to get the webcam. However, since we hesitated, all the more affordable options were sold out and prices were increased for what was left. My preference was the Logitech C615, which was sold out everywhere, so we ended up buying this Logitech C922 instead. I admit, this is a splurge we made on a late night after a long day of troubleshooting technical difficulties, so our heads were a little loopy, but we have been happy with it. It came with a little tripod that we use instead of mounting it on the laptop, so that our daughter's sight line can be better aligned with the TV.
Headphones: Headphones felt like an essential purchase, since our daughter was going to be doing her classes in a shared space without doors. I wanted to get her a cordless one in case her teacher did movement activities with the class. I found these highly rated ones on Amazon. The only issue I had were that we felt the microphone did not sound as clear as we would have liked. We got my son a different set of headphones and prefer these. We like that the on/off is a switch, which was a little easier to use than a button in the headset.
Blue Light Glasses: This purchase is more for peace of mind. I have heard mixed things about whether blue light glasses make a difference. I also know a lot of kids who find it uncomfortable to wear both their headphone AND glasses at the same time. My daughter says it does not bother her, which is interesting because she is very sensitive to how things feel on her skin. I’m not sure if it is because the specific headphones and glasses she has her “fit” better together, but I’m glad it’s not an issue for her. Update: after hearing me talk about the glasses bothering other kids, they now bother her too, so she only wears them occasionally.
External Keyboard: This is actually a keyboard we purchased years ago. I personally find it easier to type on a regular keyboard with a number pad, so I got this one to help my kids learn how to type. The keys can feel chunkier compared to a laptop keyboard, but I like the visual color coding to help the kids find and memorize the keys more easily.
Computer Mouse: I really like this mouse for children. The smaller size fits more comfortably in their smaller hands, and I like the standard design and that it has 2 different colored buttons with a scroller.
Mouse Pad: Nothing particularly special about this mouse pad except my daughter absolutely LOVES it and thinks it’s so beautiful. So I just wanted to share it in case anyone else appreciates it as much as she does.
USB Splitter: Between the microphone, webcam, keyboard, and mouse, the laptop does not have enough USB ports. Something to note is we actually opted to use the laptop instead of the iPad also because we were having trouble connecting the mic, webcam, and television to the iPad. I purchased this USB Hub to connect everything. Having all the cords in one hub also makes it easier to disconnect and connect the laptop when I need to move it off the table.
Table Protector: With all the coloring and drawing one does in first grade, I also got some clear place mats to make it easier to keep the white tabletop clean. This was the largest one I found on Amazon. Something to note is I originally got softer silicone ones, but my daughter’s pencil kept poking through the paper. So if you go this route, make sure you get a firm material, such as plastic.
Hello and Welcome!
My name is Erin, and I started this blog to share resources and insights with other fellow parents. My teaching background is injected into most things I do with my 2 kids, "Jie Jie" and "Didi" (older sister and little brother in Chinese). I'm hoping to find some work-life balance as I juggle my roles of mommy, wifey, friend, and budding entrepreneur. Thank you for joining me on this journey!