Where do your kids do their homework? It can be tempting to let them just do it wherever they can find space, but creating a designated area can help them work harder and do better. It doesn't have to be a dedicated space in your house, as long as it's the same space daily. Here's how.
When creating a homework space, it's important that you really keep in mind who will be using it. Your child's interests and learning style should be reflected in the place where they do their homework. "The workspace should be an area that is inspiring as well as functional. Paint the wall behind the desk with a magnetic paint by Benjamin Moore. These paints are available in any color your kid(s) can dream of. It's the perfect way to display homework assignments for the week or pics of their friends! You can also use a whimsical wallpaper or graphic to set the tone of the space," says interior design expert, Marlaina Teich.
At the same time, you should also be flexible depending on what your child needs for an assignment. "He may do well at a desk for a 30-minute segment or so, maybe to work on a writing assignment. Then he may want/need to move to his bed to read his literature assignment. Maybe he can work on his science report at the kitchen table because his mom is in there working on something and he's helped by someone to bounce ideas off of," says Kathy Koch, Ph.D., president and founder of Celebrate Kids, Inc.
When doing homework, it's important to be comfortable — but not too comfortable. So invest in a chair that will fit your child and keep him relaxed and focused. "The chair should be comfy and ergonomical if possible. If you don't want a typical office-type chair, a wood-framed chair with an upholstered seat and back cushion would offer comfort and support," says Teich.
Homework often requires multiple materials — such as a textbook and notebook or a workbook. Make sure that there is space for everything to sit comfortably. "Have a desk area big enough to hold an open binder and open textbook without overlapping," says Adrian Serna, director and academic coach at Cardinal Education in Palo Alto, CA.
Also, encourage your child to keep the study area neat and clean. A mere five minutes a day picking up can make a big difference, Serna says. "Clutter is just another excuse to delay studying. So many people start focusing on the mess and cleaning up all while sacrificing study time," says Serna.
Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember breaking a pencil and obsessively looking for that cute sharpener? Or running out of loose-leaf and losing track of what you were searching for, only to get in trouble for not doing what you were supposed to be doing? It happens to the best of us. So, when you are organizing your child's study nook, make sure that everything she needs is close at hand.
"A study space should be equipped with everything kids may need so they don't have to waste time looking for items. Pencils, pens, erasers, paper, glue, scissors, paper clips, a stapler, a calculator, assignment book or calendar and reference materials are all must-haves. Once your kids sit down to work, they shouldn't have to hunt for basic supplies," says A.J. Miller of Miller Organizing.
Have you ever tried to read a book in dim light? Or write when the sun is nearly down? It makes doing anything a chore on your eyes. So be sure that your child's study space has adequate lighting. This will help her stay focused on the task at hand. "Incorporate softer background lighting rather than harsh, bright lights," says wellness expert, Melissa Cassera. Many experts say that lighting that focuses on the task at hand (like a desk lamp) can help keep the focus on the homework.
Whether you have a roving nook, a permanent nook or some other setup, make the homework process something that you repeat again and again. "Routines give kids the structure they need. Some kids need to get their homework done right after school. Others need to expend some energy first. Find the time that works best with your child, then stick to it," says Dr. Richard E. Bavaria, Sylvan Learning's senior vice president for education outreach.
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