Designing Homework Spaces for Children

There is a lot of work that goes into a child’s education. From typical academic subjects like math, science or language arts to creative experiences in art or music, the day-to-day educational needs of children are great. Rarely does the work stop at school, however, and when it comes time for a child to sit and do homework, many parents get frustrated or are unable to help because they simply don’t know the basics of how to help. One place to start, however, is the area in which the child will complete homework assignments and projects. More often than not, it is recommended that children have a designated space in which they can complete homework or other projects. These spaces have become a focus of interior designers, educational specialists and concerned parents.

Homework spaces vary according to the space available, the environment and the individual child’s needs in terms of noise, access to homework help, the Internet, other learning-style accomodations and supervision of the homework itself. While many spaces do vary according to the child’s needs, there are some basic ideas to keep in mind when designing a homework area for children.

  1. Ask for your child’s input. Do they need to have a quiet environment, or do they work better with background noise? Is it more distracting for them to be away from family activity than it is to be in the middle of the mix? Find a space that will help your child feel comfortable, but ready to work. Keep distractions to a minimum and remain available to help if any problems arise.

  2. Have extra school supplies handy, either in bins or within the child’s reach to minimize the distraction of finding a pencil or markers. If you have more than one child, consider giving each child their own set of supplies at home.

  3. Make sure the lighting, chair and homework surface (desk, counter, table, etc.) are all appropriate for the child’s age and size. An uncomfortable environment can make homework time hard, but also be sure the space is not too comfortable, so that the child’s focus remains on the homework.

  4. Keep computers out of the shadows. Computers should always be in the "public" areas of your household. If you are able to monitor the computer activity, the child is less likely to try to sneak a game or message a friend. Also, by keeping the computer in a visible area, you can monitor any access to social networking and other sites that can potentially harm your child.

  5. Consult an interior designer for ideas on how to best utilize the space you have or suggest items that can help with organization of supplies, papers and other homework-related materials.

Designing a homework space for your child can help with academic success and confidence. A dedicated area that is used for studying, projects and homework can benefit the child’s ability to focus and can keep you more aware of how their homework is progressing, where their strengths and weaknesses lay, and can help to eliminate the inevitable fight over homework versus play time.

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