How to Create the Perfect Work Space for Kids at Home
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A homework station that's in sync with your child's natural tendencies will allow them to be more efficient and effective when learning from home.
When it comes to organizing for school, all kids are wired a little differently. A workspace that meshes with their wiring allows them to be more efficient while giving them a greater chance for success. Use the ideas below to set up a pleasant and organized homework station tailored to your child’s individual needs.
Assess Your Child’s Preferences and Needs
Start by answering the following questions. You may not know the answers right away, so take a few days to observe your child in action. You can ask an older child the questions directly. The more ownership your child has in setting up their homework station, the more invested they’ll be in using it when it’s ready to go. Developing their own work space may even get teens excited for school.
How Much Oversight Does Your Child Require?
Consider if your child is self-directed or needs your oversight and guidance to stay on task. Are they easily distracted, or is it natural for them to stay focused? The answers to these questions will help you determine where to locate the homework station.
Where Does Your Child Like to Do Homework?
When given the choice, do they curl up on the couch, retreat to their bedroom (and usually end up sprawled out on the floor) or sit at the kitchen table?
How Is the Current Approach Working?
Jot down a list of what’s working well with your current homework station or home office approach (if you have one) as well as opportunities for improvement.
As the Parent, What Will Work Best for You?
The ideal scenario accommodates your child’s needs. But if you’ll be playing a role in your child’s at-home learning, take into consideration your needs, too. For example, will you oversee the work of more than one child? If yes, consider a shared workspace that keeps you in the vicinity while still providing some privacy.
Identify a Workspace
With your answers in mind, evaluate your options. The ideal homework station will accommodate and address as many needs and preferences as is practical. Here are some ideas:
Establish the Kitchen or Dining-Room Table as Learning Central
This is an ideal option if your child gravitates to a shared space to do homework or if they will need your assistance with school work. The downside to this approach is that schoolwork clutter can add stress and get in the way of mealtime. It’s also harder to delineate between school and family time, which can make it difficult to switch gears when the school day is done.
These challenges can be easily addressed by establishing handy storage for schoolwork and supplies. Repurpose an existing piece of furniture, such as a china cabinet or a shelf in the pantry, or add a storage cabinet for supplies to a nearby room.
Set Up a Homework Station in the Family Room
This approach has similar benefits and considerations to the kitchen or dining room, but could require you to purchase a table or desk and chair to function as a learning space. If your child naturally gravitates to the couch or floor for homework, lean into those tendencies and consider purchasing a lap desk and charging station to make this approach more comfortable and efficient.
Outfit Your Child’s Bedroom or a Spare Room
This is a great option for a self-directed or easily-distracted child who needs to be away from the action to focus. Set up a desk or table and a chair, or consider a beanbag chair or floor chair if your child prefers doing homework in a non-traditional work space.
Once you identified a place for the homework station, keep the following in mind as you set up the space for success.
Tools and Supplies
Whether the space will be used for remote learning or homework, refer to your child’s school supply list and stock up on back-to-school essentials. Store supplies on a nearby shelf, in a portable container or on a rolling cart that can be moved to the workspace when needed.
Task and Time Management
Be sure to set up a system for keeping track of assignments and due dates. If your child is a visual learner, consider a white board or wall calendar to track tasks and deadlines. Similarly, keep track of class times by jotting them in a student planner, or by setting up reminders on your child’s learning device (i.e. tablet or laptop) or a scheduling app on their phone.
Let Your Child Weigh In
Whenever possible, give your child a say in the decisions about their homework station. For example, let them choose from a vetted set of options for the desk, chair, storage solutions and even paint colors, if you’ll be painting the space or any of its furnishings.