School has started again, which means a backpack filled with homework. To put all the chances on your side, here are the basics for an inviting and functional homework space.
First of all, you must decide where that space will be. This is mainly determined by the age of your child.
Elementary school child
If your child is aged between 6 and 12 years old, an area near you, the kitchen for example, is best. Children this age need more supervision and like to be by your side when they work. New kitchen designs often include a built-in desk but in general, a good old kitchen table will do the trick. It is a well-lit space and children already have a chair there. The key is to build a mobile office, which is a box or a basket that contains all the stationery and supplies. We put it away after the homework period and that’s that! If the homework space is separated, it must include a comfortable chair adapted to your child’s size. If necessary, add a footrest so that their feet are supported.
If your child is older, in high school, college or university, the location should be quieter and should respect their intimacy. Their bedroom becomes the perfect place to place a homework space. If their room is big enough it is easy: a desk, a chair, a filing cabinet and voila! But if the room is smaller, you will have to be more creative.
- You can install a folding table against the wall and hand a folding chair on the wall. Hide the basket that contains the stationery under the bed to keep it tidy
- You can buy a loft bed (bunk bed with only one top bed) that will allow you to place the desk underneath.
- If there is enough storage elsewhere, turn the wardrobe into an office by removing doors and installing a counter. Use the upper storage space with shelves.
Regardless of its configuration, equip the office with an ergonomic chair, adapted to your teenager. Because the workload is more important, they will study for longer periods of time and a bad chair will affect their concentration and cause significant physical ailments.
- Be sure to install adequate lighting. Ideally, the area should have three light sources:
- Natural, provided by the sunlight entering through a window.
- Ambient, with the general lighting in the room provided by the ceiling luminaire or a floor lamp, for example.
- Specific, with the light provided by a flexible desk lamp. Consider placing the lamp on the opposite side to the writing hand to avoid creating unnecessary shadows.
- Avoid distractions. Television, loud music, intense traffic, video games and internet (meaning social medias) should be banned. Ask the other members of the family to respect those at work. Provide paper books for future reference like dictionaries and grammars. It will keep your child more focused than a computer that offers a lot of entertainment.
- Let your child customize their desk. They will be more inclined to use it.
- Keep the area clean, tidy and organized. It is harder to work in chaos.
- Use storage that is easy to manage with labels and color codes for example. Some people work better with open and visual storage (like stackable baskets) and others prefer a filing system.
- Install a dry erase calendar. Very useful for writing deadlines, it can be useful for the whole family, just use a different color for every child.
Providing a comfortable, organized and efficient space to your child will instil good habits and make your house tidier. School lasts a long time; you might as well promote good studying habits early. It will serve them all their lives and for now, it will make the mad run between homecoming and dinnertime more enjoyable.