A designated study space is important for all children, no matter what age they are or how complex the curriculum they’re participating in. The space doesn’t have to be large, but it does need to be functional. It should be a calm and inviting space to help your child get their homework done better and faster. The right study space won’t necessarily make children excited about doing homework, but it will make it much easier for them.
1. Make the Space Comfortable
If a child is not comfortable in their study space, they likely won’t stay there, or feel incentive to continue using it. Make sure the area is not too hot or too cold. If it is near a window, make sure there are blinds or shades to cut down on glare. The space should be easy to keep quiet, out of the way of heavily trafficked areas of the home when possible. The area should promote relaxation, concentration and focus, but should not be so comfortable as to promote sleep.
2. Think Ergonomics
The space should have a desk area or a small table for a workspace. When the child sits down, his desk or table should be at waist height, with the ability to rest his elbows on the surface without bringing his shoulders down. Feet should be able to rest flat on the floor, even your child does not want to sit that way at all times. If the chair does not accommodate his height, use a pillow. If his feet do not rest on the floor, use a box to prop them up. If a computer is in the work area, try to keep it positioned to where it is at least 18’’ but no more than 30’’ away from your child, and consider using an anti-glare screen protector to reduce eye strain.
3. Keep the Space Well Lit
Children who have to squint to read or have trouble seeing what they’ve written will get tired quickly. They will also become more easily distracted with the low lighting. Make sure there is overhead light available, and if necessary, use a desk lamp to add more lighting.
4. Make it Easy to Spread Out
If children can’t easily spread out their work, it will be difficult for them to focus and get through it. If there is a computer on the desk, move it to the side so the children have room to use pen and paper, too.
5. Keep the Area Well Stocked with Supplies
Make sure all the supplies children need are in the area and within reach. This includes: pens, pencils, a calculator, scissors, crayons, markers, ruler, compass, etc. Any utensils and materials needed to complete homework should be in this area. This will prevent you and your children from having to go on the great supply hunt when it is time to get homework done. Older children should have a calendar, a planner, or a to-do list to help them keep track of all the tasks they need to get done.
6. Organize the Space
Use any number of organizational items such as: boxes, post it notes, shelves, labels, and folders to organize the area. Supplies can be kept in a drawer or in a desktop organizer; let your child pick out an organizer in her favorite color or in a cool shape. This will help keep the area tidy and easy to use each day when he comes back to it.
7. Decorate the Space
Here comes the fun part! This is where the space gets to become inviting and special. Decorate it with pictures of family, friends, and other things that are meaningful. Depending on how old your children are, they will likely spend a lot of time in this area, so it is important for them to enjoy it. Any favorite items or lucky charms should be close by for inspiration and motivation. Consider a small poster, stickers, or even a bulletin board for them to decorate on their own.
8. Remove Other Distractions
When utilizing the study space, take a second to turn off all instant message communications, social networking Web sites, TVs, radios, and MP3 players. Though the kids may claim noise helps, background noise and potential distractions from these types of things will defeat the purpose of the study space. If noise is necessary, try using a white noise machine to help him increase focus.
A study space doesn’t have to be a horrendous task. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Involve the kids in the development of the space so they feel more like it belongs to them. With the right preparations and items on hand, you can design the study space in just a few hours. It may be a good idea not to allow other activities to take place in the designated study space, to help your children associate the area with homework – not playtime.
What do your kids think of the study space you’ve created for them? Tell us in the comments section!