A Homework Haven: Creating a Study-Friendly Space for Kids

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Homework. The very word causes eye rolls and audible groans from virtually every student in the universe. Adults are not immune either, and the mere thought of the nightly wrangle to get their young students to do their homework causes even the most seasoned parent’s toes to curl.

Like it or not, homework is a fact of school life, and the trick to discovering what will help your kids to take responsibility for their homework may take trial and error and a boatload of patience. Parents may get just as frustrated with homework as their kids are, and it’s sometimes hard to know how much help is appropriate and how much you should back off.

If your child has trouble settling down and doing her homework, try to make it a regular thing that happens at the same time each day. It may be a struggle at first, but consider combining homework time with a snack and drink, or other “settling-in” habits. Another good idea is to create a special area that is your child’s own space, a mini-sanctuary that is designed to increase focus while being comfy and cozy.

Three main criteria determine what special study place will be the best for your child; all involve discovering their individual needs. First, does your student prefer complete silence or a bit of ambient noise? Second, make sure that the space is always accessible to your child when he or she needs it, which may cut down on any excuses not to study. Climbing the stairs to their room can mentally be as tricky as scaling Mount Everest to a child who’s already worn out from a long day at school. Third, make sure the space is stocked with the necessary equipment and tools that not only get the job done but reflect your child’s personality and style. Once homework-friendly study space is created, your student will gravitate toward that area from force of habit, even if he or she doesn’t have any homework that day!

Keep Calm and Study On
For the young learner who depends on quiet and calm, finding a spot away from the usual chaos of family life will be very important in their homework success. Tranquil places such as bedrooms, rec rooms, laundry rooms or mom’s home office can soothe frazzled nerves and enhance focus for kids who are easily distracted by noise and movement. Parents can give the illusion of a secret study space by installing bookcases as room dividers that also do double duty for school supply storage. It’s always a good idea to remove smartphones or any other digital device that is not needed for homework to keep disruptions at bay.

Double Duty
Not all students need quiet and solitude when doing their nightly homework. Many kids feel more comfortable and secure when they are in the hub of all household activity. If this is the case in your home, there’s no reason the dining room table, a kitchen island or even a beanbag chair on the living room floor is all young learners need to get to the task at hand and complete their homework with the minimum of nagging.

Homework Nooks
Not all homeowners have the luxury of designating entire rooms as study centers. Families living in small homes and apartments know that space is at a premium and creative use of space is part of everyday life. If your home falls into this category, consider looking at unused areas under stairwells, three-season porches and even closets as cozy places for your students to work on their take-home work. Another clever space-saving hack is to go vertical by installing a single bunk bed and creating a study space directly underneath.

Space to Spread
Even if your school-age child has a computer desk, she may still not have enough room for spreading out books and binders at homework time. Consider a large desk if there’s room, or maintain an open policy about using the kitchen or dining room table for homework. However, remember that a young child’s feet should touch the floor to prevent restlessness, so use a box or stool under their feet.

Proper Lighting is Non-Negotiable
Overhead lighting, whether it’s a desk lamp or pendant lights, is a required accessory for your student’s desk or workspace, no matter what their age. Natural lighting from a window is an excellent bonus to a homework haven, but often it’s not enough to prevent eye strain for young readers.

Establishing a homework location is as important as setting a time. Sometimes, rewards and incentives can help make a not-so-fun task a little more enjoyable, but making a special place just for them to learn will go a long way in diminishing homework battles.

Sources: greatschools.org, popsugar.com and thisoldhouse.com.