As Professional Organizers, we’ve literally been inside thousands of people’s homes, many of those families with school-age kids. One of the most common things we hear from parents is the frustration about having added a desk into their kid’s room for homework but then the desk ends up covered in stuff — clutter, toys, collectibles — and is used for everything EXCEPT homework!
We consulted Educational Coach, Lorina Daves Tornai, to identify the ideal components of a homework space. Here is what she shared:
Keep screens out of the bedroom and in a common area to allow for casual supervision.
Create a dedicated work space if possible, rather than use a common table like the dining room table.
- Set against a wall with a stationery chair (rolling chairs turn into toys!)
- Ideally long enough so an adult can sit with them to help when needed
- A 2’ x 4’ folding table can be ideal, multiple tables can be put together for large projects
- Small wooden desks are too limiting and kids outgrow them
Create space for basic supplies near the table – a rolling drawer unit works well to hold pencils, markers, scissors, scotch tape, paper.
Magazine Files work really well for managing handouts and work in progress so paper doesn’t end up in stacks on the desk.
Have visual and auditory aids to help with certain subjects.
- Children’s dictionary with pictures and other reference books provides a tactile experience
- Map of the world and of the US (laminated) helps them visualize geography
- Wall calendar supports their understanding of days of week
- Analog clocks support their ability to tell time
- Using a clock or timer to split their time between different subjects teaches good time management
- A 12 x 18 whiteboard with markers in the workspaceenables kid and parent to brainstorm/key words/map out stuff prior to actual writing process. Also useful for working out math problems.
Make sure they eat before they do homework– protein is better than cookies…feeds the brain and provides sustained energy. Think less bread, more nuts and cheese.
Back to that messy room desk covered in tidbits – that cluttered desk may be a symptom of a different need for your child – creative and display space! Is there dresser top, or bookshelf, or display shelves, or all 3 where they can lay out their collections and trinkets? Oftentimes the desktop ends up being the only space where they get to express their personality and show off their special objects.
Creating a intentionally designed homework space helps both the parent and the child take schoolwork seriously, supporting a lifelong habit of organization and growth.
Lorina Daves Tornai owner of Solutions for Learning, is an experienced tutor and dyslexia specialist with over twelve years of professional experience helping students ages 5 to adult in Reading, Writing, Spelling and Math.