Top Questions To Ask When Creating A Homework Corner

Girl working at desk
Is the designer desk right for your child?.

Parenting Magazines and Pinterest boards love to show great layouts of beautiful homework nooks. Each little nook featured has color-coordinated accessories spread out on a new looking desk, with a table lamp in a bright color that just gives the whole spot the perfect panache. I imagine that just sitting in the chair in the photo would be so wonderful that the child would feel inspired to work on the most challenging math probIems I don't even how to do.

I know when I see these photos of homework study spots, I dream of buying the whole setup for one of my children. Then I realize why it would be a mistake.

Certainly my children each need a place to do their schoolwork each night. A place that they know they are to work on the school work and that their school work will be organized and easily found for returning to school when it is due. It isn't just the expense of some of these gorgeously decorated homework desks (there are ways to keep those costs down). It is just that the furniture and accessories I am looking at really wouldn't function well for my children to actually get their homework done. Although some children need exactly a desk and accessories straight of a Pottery Barn catalog (often teens almost ready to go to college), the isolated desk and color coordinated accessories will invite more work avoidance than work for other children.

Rather than buy the pretty set recommended by a designer who doesn't know your child, consider his individual needs:

The Age And Maturity Of The Child

Younger children need more supervision than older children. Yes, your children should complete their homework on their own, but a kindergartener will probably need you in a seat right next to them to keep them on task.

Your middle school age student should still be in family room or dining room where you can easily see them to ensure they are working. Middle school age students often mean to do their homework when they march off to their rooms with their backpack, but they find the distracting pull of everything else too irresistible. Having a parent nearby helps encourage them to stay on task. Hopefully, your high school student will be able to work out of your sight, but this often isn't the case. Some children just take longer to develop the ability to stay with a difficult task that has an intangible reward. While a personal desk can be a lovely home furnishing dedicated to a child's homework and nothing else, a seat at the kitchen table might be better to keep a child on task.

Child's Movement Needs

Some children just move a lot while they are working. Even some adults need a little extra space to push out elbows, layout papers to see them easily or even fidget. Make sure that the desk or table that your student is using is large enough to provide the workspace they need.

Your child may have a smaller desk space at school, but the home environment is their own and can be much more personalized according to your child's movement style.

How Do They Handle Distractions?

Some children stop doing everything the second they hear any other noise. Other children are able to stay on task and be aware of the rest of the families whereabouts while doing their own homework. Still others seem to focus best when there is enough background noise that they can drown out all other sounds and work amidst the steadiness of what could be a war zone. Figure out which one your child is, and do your best to get them working on their homework in the right space. You can try ear plugs for quiet seekers and background music for the noise lover.

Be aware that even the noise lovers will often get distracted by a favorite tv show or movie in the background. Really, this makes sense. Homework should be challenging enough that your child does have to work at it a little. Watching a favorite show is easier than working through the frustration of learning something new. Give them the opportunity to learn how to work through mild frustration and remove any distractions that are still distracting for them.

What A Comfortable Work Environment Means For Them

Do they want a hard and rigid chair at a desk with clean beautiful lines? Do they want a soft and cozy lounge chair they can sink into and work their homework on a lap desk? Are their different places in the home they can work with the right supervision depending on whether they need that desk or the cozy chair?

School Communication And Organization

All of these furniture catalog and magazine layouts include some sort of a wall organizer. Wall organizers can be great if they work with the actual needs of the school student that year. If your child is required to sue a written paper planner, don't have them do double duty by writing down all assignments. If they are required by the school to put all work in a school provided homework folder, make sure they put it in the folder rather than a special completion bin on their desk. Any wall or desktop organizer will need to work with the system used by the school and child.

Keep Evaluating as Your Child Grows and Changes

Many of the answers to these questions will change from year to year as your child grows older and moves through higher grades. Be sure to review how well their homework space is working for them at least once a school year. Chances are you will be setting up the space once a year shortly after school begins. Don't fret over the different items you decide to give up or add over the years. Instead, try trading these items at a school supply swap.

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