It’s hard to believe summer’s over and the kids are heading back to school already! While Labour Day weekend marks our last grasp at summer, it’s also our transition time, helping us — and out children — get our heads back into work mode.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to set up a great homework space to get your child on the path to good study habits.
Keeping them close
If your children are young and need a lot of supervision while doing their school work, often the kitchen island or table is the best place to park.
But there can be issues: the kitchen is a bustling place and distractions can be many. Plus, it’s not a convenient storage spot for homework helpers like pencil crayons, glue and scissors.
But, with a little thought and planning, the kitchen can be the perfect spot for your young one. If your child is doing homework while you’re preparing dinner, it can make for great parent-child together time.
The key is keeping the outside distractions to a minimum so your child can focus (ie., no radios, TVs or sounds of other children playing in the background). It’s also an easy place for them to spread out what they’re working on so that they have plenty of elbow room.
And containing the clutter is not a problem if you use a portable tower or drawers on wheels. It will both organize their school supplies and can be tucked away when not in use. If that’s not an option, try a dedicated drawer in the kitchen for kid items.
A space of their own
If your children don’t need constant supervision when doing their homework, then having a dedicated work space can be very helpful in promoting healthy study habits. Whether it’s a desk in their bedroom, a loft workspace or a spot in the family room, the location does not matter, as long as it is conducive to getting their work done.
That means the space needs to:
- be inviting for them and comfortable (often personalizing with their artwork or other things they like)
- keep clutter to a minimum (have lots of storage options)
- minimize distractions (no video games, accessing social media, or TV, plus a way to block out household noise, such as a door)
It’s also helpful for Mom and Dad if there’s a way to still keep tabs on your child to help them stay on track.
Of course, many kids today— especially older ones — prefer to be able to park wherever they’d like to do their homework. And since much of the work they do will be on a laptop or tablet, that’s easy enough to do.
In this case, if they have no dedicated workspace, it’s extra important to make sure both the environment is controlled as much as possible (keeping noise and distractions down, for instance) and your child already has developed good homework habits.
What are good homework habits?
Developing good homework habits also starts your child on the road to learning responsibility. They learn about reading and following instructions independently, budgeting time, how to complete work on time and neatly, and many other skills that they will need in life.
Some keys to developing good study habits:
- Designate a regular place to do homework. Even if they like to be portable, being portable in a regular spot is helpful.
- Have a set time every day to work on daily assignments. For some that’s as soon as they come home from school. Others might need to unwind first. And still others benefit from a work/reward option such as no video games until homework is done.
- Let your child play a role in setting the homework rules. This reduces friction and improves the likelihood of your child doing what they’re supposed to and when.
- Set a schedule. Let your child determine the order in which assignments will be done. The sense of control for them makes the effort seem less of a chore.
- Observe your child’s homework habits to see if changes need to be made. Do they get fidgety easily, which might suggest shorter work periods are better? Do they get stuck on certain tasks, which might require a teacher-assisted solution?
- Don’t do your child’s work for them and be sure to give positive feedback.
- Keep in touch with your child’s teacher so that any issues can be dealt with before they grow into something larger.
- Keep after-school activities in check.
A final word on their work space
Lighting is really important. Wherever possible, having multiple types of lighting and from different angles (overhead, task lighting, ambient, etc.) will help create even lighting and minimize shadows, which in turn helps to reduce fatigue and eye strain. And natural lighting is a bonus.
As well, be aware of the time of day your child will be studying. It may be wise to consider window treatments that block some natural light if your child is sitting near a window and needs to use a computer screen.