Whether it’s for homework or school at home, here’s how to create a study space for your child that meets their needs and yours.
Deep down, when your child misses assignments or doesn’t do them well, you know their teacher blames you. But, meanwhile, you’ve got responsibilities of your own, like a job on top of running your house. Creating a good study space for your child helps you stay on top of it all.
The right homework spot gives your child a learning environment they’ll want to use. They can find what they need and won’t lose things or get distracted. It also helps you supervise them without having your own work disrupted. (Bonus: You might even get an extra chore or two out of them, too.)
Where Should Your Child Do Schoolwork?
The more your child does schoolwork at home, the more of a dedicated space they need for it. The kitchen table is fine for the occasional assignment when they’re young. They need a better solution once their studies get harder, or if they’re attending classes from home.
To create the perfect studying space, consider your home, your child, and your own work. The right spot suits all three.
Their Bedroom Isn’t The Best Spot to Study
Think about the last time you told your child to clean their room. Did they walk in, stay on task, and get it done the right way fast? For most parents, the answer is no. (Said with an ironic laugh.)
Instead, they probably played with toys or watched YouTube videos until you caught them and offered some nagging redirection. For the same reason, setting up a study spot in their bedroom won’t work for either of you.
Think About YOUR Work, Too
If you’re working at home, it’s tempting to set up your child’s study area next to your workspace. But you have a job to do, too, and frequent interruptions with questions will make your work suffer.
The more convenient it is to ask you for help, the less your child will try to solve their own problems. A spot that’s near to where you work, without being next to you, is ideal. A room divider can help, but it’s not the only solution.
Depending on your needs, you might want to use a hot-desk solution. With this setup, everyone takes turns sharing one desk. You use it during your child’s playtime or naps, and they use it while you exercise, cook, or relax. If you have more than one child, schedule time for each child to do desk-work and have them do other things like reading elsewhere.
One benefit of hot-desking at home is that you only need one work station. That’s also a drawback if you aren’t careful since stuff can pile up on the surface. (Read on for the solution to messy desks!)
How to Keep Your Homework Spot Organized
A well-organized study area is one that your child feels comfortable using and keeping tidy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of their study space as a miniature office, though. Solutions that work for adults are not always the best solutions for kids. (Related: How to Organize Kids’ Rooms.)
Choose the Right Desk and Chair
Make sure your child’s desk and chair are the proper sizes for them. Their chair should be low enough for their feet to rest flat on the floor. Taller chairs let feet dangle, putting pressure on their thighs and causing numbness.
The desk should be high enough that, when seated, their elbows are at a 90-degree angle. The chair should fit under the desk to let their upper arms rest on the desktop. Worktops that are too high or low cause painful wrist and elbow problems like carpal tunnel.
Money-wise, it makes sense to look for chairs and desks that can grow taller as your kids do. Or, invest in a quality adjustable chair and use wood blocks to raise the table as needed. If your family is hot-desking, go with a sit-stand desk, plus an adjustable chair, so they’re easy to adjust for each user.
Steer Clear of Cubbies
The more time your child spends studying at home, the more school clutter they’ll have. That mess makes it tempting to organize with containers and cubbies, but don’t.
With kids, many standard storage solutions backfire. They forget what they can’t see. That includes things in containers, especially if those containers have lids. The ideal spot for kids’ school stuff lets them see at a glance where things are. In most cases, that means keeping storage at eye-level when seated at their desk.
Keep School Papers Tidy
If your kids have a dedicated workspace, use a two or three-tray sorter to keep paperwork tidy. Label the slots “To Do,” “In Progress” and “Done” so it’s clear where papers belong. If you’re hot-desking, use hanging files in a cabinet instead. Assigning one color per person makes it easy for everyone to find their stuff.
Have Supplies On Hand
Even in these high-tech times, most students still need pens, pencils, markers, and a ruler. Younger pupils may also use crayons. Older kids may need index cards, highlighters, and staplers.
If your kids have their own desk, choose one drawer to hold supplies. Use inserts or dividers to keep the contents tidy. Label the drawer as well as the spots where things should go.
For shared desks, or if your child studies at the kitchen table, keep everyone’s supplies separate. Using cleaning caddies works great since they have sections to keep things neat. Plus, their handles make them portable.
Keep the Noise Down
Ticking clocks. Barking dogs. Loud television commercials. One-sided phone conversations. A household is a noisy place when you’re trying to concentrate! Don’t feel obligated to tiptoe when your child is studying, but do try a few things to help them stay on task.
Have specific studying hours and keep the TV off during them. Ban playing music without headphones during those times and also rough-housing. If you have a barky dog, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your front door. Other parents will understand, including the UPS driver.
When you’re hot-desking, it’s harder to keep things quiet since the people not using the desk have lives to lead. Try a white-noise machine or desktop fountain to mask background sounds. Or have younger kids nap or read to themselves while older ones work at the desk.
Reset the Space Nightly
A tidy homework space reduces distractions and keeps kids from losing assignments. For those who do homework at the kitchen table, this isn’t an issue — everything gets put away by dinnertime. If your child’s study space is elsewhere in the house, have them neaten things at the end of every study session. The same goes for families who decide to hot-desk.
Be sure to check the desk nightly to make sure it’s cleaned up, and plan a consequence if it’s not. Something like folding laundry or scrubbing the bathroom usually works. No one enjoys doing those things, so they’ll soon learn to tidy up after themselves. And, if not? Well, that’s less housework for you to do.