Real Life: Moms Share Their Virtual School Setup

When the pandemic forced schools to shut down last spring, we had to shift gears quickly and find a way to educate our oldest child from home. Our kitchen table quickly became schoolwork headquarters. It wasn’t perfect, but like so many parents across the country, we made it work.

It was temporary, after all.

Then, as the summer months drew to a close, it became clear that a space for virtual learning would need to become a more permanent fixture. So, I polled Iowa City Moms’ contributors, as well as friends from across the country, to find out what their virtual learning setup looked like. And what factors played a role in their decision.

Real Life Virtual Setups

Mom of Three

“I knew virtual first grade would be heavily guided by the parent. My four-year-old would need some play time with me as well. Not to mention a newborn who is completely dependent upon me. And through all of this, I would still need to pump.

So, I decided the playroom would be the best fit. We have a small craft table my first grader can sit at, a baby swing, and plenty to keep my four-year-old engaged. It’s not perfect. Some days feel slightly chaotic with three little ones needing me all at once. And yes, the toys can be a distraction, but we make it work.”

An image of a virtual school setup in a playroom.

Mom of Four

“Our house is small and we don’t have a lot of extra space. I set up two desks in the girls’ room and one in my son’s room. So they can do their schoolwork and still have some privacy. My son has ADHD, so we currently don’t have a door on his room, because we have to constantly supervise him for behavior and safety. I also made arrangements for the older children to go to their grandparents house if they need help on a particular subject or if they need more quiet space. My youngest, who starts kindergarten, will sit at the kitchen table with me so I can work on my own schoolwork at the same time.”

Mom of Two

“My first grader completes some of her schoolwork at the babysitters house. She does the rest in the evenings and on weekends at our dinner table. Our kitchen has windows to bring in natural light. My husband sits with her to help with the tablet. I cook dinner while keeping an eye on my one-year-old, who climbs and runs everywhere.”

Mom of Three

“I chose our basement. I wanted to be able to “go” to the place where we do school, and then also leave when we were done. Granted, it’s a luxury to have enough spaces in our home where we even have a choice.”

Mom of Three

“Each girl has a spot in their bedroom. It’s less than ideal, because you don’t really want your sleep space to be the same as your work space, but they can shut their doors and have privacy and quiet. We don’t have any spare rooms.”
An image of a virtual school setup in a basement.

Mom of Four

“Our girls (12th and 7th grade) each have a desk in their bedroom. We don’t have a solution for the boys yet. My plan is a desk for our 9th grader in a shared bedroom. Our 3rd grader will join me at the kitchen table, where I work. I am stressed by not having dedicated space, but I am choosing to ignore this stress and just get started. Then I can see how things proceed and what we truly need. While it is not ideal to mix school and sleep spaces, we don’t have a way to allow for so many people to have interactive video chats at the same time. The headphones I was researching are really expensive for six of us.
We have been discussing whether or not we need a visual command center for everyone to post things, or daily huddles to discuss MESS (methods, equipment, supplies, studies), or paper planners for each person plus our online calendar.
This is going to be one heck of a year!”

Mom of One

“My fourth grader is set up in my sewing room, next to my work from home desk. I gave her the option of being with me or in her room, but only because I knew she would want to be with me. She has ADHD so she needs someone to help keep her on task and focused. I tried to make it as cute as possible so, for now at least, she is really excited about it. I gave up my sewing tool pegboard for her!”
An image of a virtual school setup in a sewing room.

Mom of Four

“Ummm . . . yeah. I will have five children in five different grade levels and I have no idea where I’m going to put them, how they will all be online at the same time (we will likely have to upgrade our internet plan), or how the heck I’m going to get ANY work done while supervising all of this.”


Mom of One

“I’m not doing full-time virtual, but on home days, I have a little table set up near my work from home station. In the mornings I’m going to have my child and another student from her class here. So there will be some things I will need to facilitate. Then in the afternoons, they are going to her classmates house.”

This year is going to be filled with so many unknowns, but we are in this together. You are not alone!

Share your  your virtual school setup and why you chose it!

Nikki Wildemuth
Nikki is new to the area. She graduated from the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She married her husband the same year. Nikki loved the creativity of teaching and continues to bring that same creativity as a stay at home mom. During the day you can find her chasing after her precocious toddler. By night she is a Pinterest junkie! She enjoys getting out and spending time with her family!


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