Special Nonexistent Furniture

How to create learning & play zones for kids

Find practical tips for creating functional zones for education and entertainment for your kids. 

LEARNING ZONES
A long dining table or extendable dining table may be sufficient for homeschooling, but if kids are starting to get distracted, or are distracting parents who also have to work from home, perhaps it's time to create some individual learning corners. 

While setting up a designated space is worthwhile, it's also important to remember that children rarely sit still, so don't worry if they move around from one location to another. In fact, learning in different places can improve your kids' productivity.

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"Open plan living can be tricky, especially if multiple family members need a workspace. Make use of an underutilised wall by placing desks side by side, creating a quiet zone for work or study."

Younger kids
If your child is under seven, consider setting up a learning area with kids chairs and tables, so they can be more comfortable and confident with furniture suited to their size. If they have a space of their very own, they're also more likely to entertain themselves and give you some breathing space. If you have the space and/or have more than two little ones, consider a larger round table. If you need to push the kids table against a wall or tuck it away in a corner, you'll be better off with a square or rectangular kids table.

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Organise stationery and art supplies in a storage trolley or kitchen trolley, so you can wheel things out as they are needed, then put them out of sight when 'school' is over. Be creative with storage boxes and use a lazy susan to make everything as accessible, but as organised, as possible. Also, don't forget a rubbish bin or waste basket for pencil shavings and discarded drawings.

Older kids
Older kids may need a traditional study desk for one so they can focus. Zone an area within the living room or their bedroom, using versatile desks such as writing desks, corner desks and desks with hutches. Place a bookcase around it to designate the quiet zone and to provide handy storage for their books, files and stationery.

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​Consider mixing up their seating depending on the activity. Try a bean bag or cosy tub chair for reading, a gym ball to bounce on while doing maths, and an office chair for writing. Some kids, similar to some adults, might also prefer to stand for specific tasks. Consider setting up the laptop for Google Classroom meetings at the kitchen counter for instance. 

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READING ZONES
Encourage your kids to read more by creating reading zones for them. From cocoon-like retreats for little ones to enjoy their picture books, to corner benches for your teens to sprawl across, discover how to create reading nooks for different readers whatever their age, lifestyle or book. 

CREATIVE ZONES INSIDE
While we may prefer concealing toys, puzzles and board games, kids tend to use them more when they're on show. Open shelving is fantastic as kids can see and reach for what they want, and it generally makes tidying-up faster. If you're using bookcases for younger kids, make sure you anchor them to the wall for safety.

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Instead of large boxes, opt for smaller clear containers so your kids can easily find what they're looking for. Add a few boxes and baskets with handles so they're easy to move around the house, a large colourful rug to demarcate the play zone, and a few floor cushions to make them more comfortable.

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"It's no secret that kids love to play on the floor! Choose rugs with soft natural fibres and fun patterns to make their play time even more enjoyable."

Looking to set up a play area in the sibling bedroom and short on space? Perhaps it's time to think about a bunk bed to free up some floor. This single over double bunk bed includes a trundle that can be used for sleepovers or storing extra toys, plus it has shelves to display books and trinkets. 

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Wall hooks are having a moment in interiors and, with materials ranging from brass, wood and terrazzo, they can slide into any interior scheme. Get creative and cluster them on your walls to keep the floor free of clothing and bags. Hooks are also a good way to display your kids' favourite costumes and outfits, and keep them within easy reach. 

Instead of storing your kids' artwork in drawers, pick their best ones and create a gallery wall in their bedroom or the living room. The kids will love their artwork on display, it will add character to your home, and the gallery wall could even act as a marker for a creative play zone.  

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Image via The Artful Parent

CREATIVE ZONES OUTSIDE
Set up an outdoor play area in your backyard, balcony or front entrance that inspires open-ended stories and games. 

Younger kids
With playgrounds still off limits, consider creating your very own outdoor entertainment for little ones with playhouses, swing sets, trampolines, sandpits and even the ultimate mud pie kitchen

Older kids
Create a homemade sports field complete with soccer goals, sports cones for markers, and outdoor benches for family spectators. If you don't have the space, giant wooden games add novelty and make an otherwise indoor activity more physical and fun. Try a giant wooden domino set, giant wooden tumbling block set or giant chess set

Children of all ages will also enjoy planting seeds and watching herbs grow. Designate an area in the garden for them to look after and let them decide what to grow. You could even kit them out with their own gardening tools, gloves and wheelbarrow. 

And even when schools, playgrounds, sporting grounds and entertainment venues re-open again, take comfort in the fact that your home has been fully set up for all your kids' needs.

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