How To Set Up A Productive Home Learning Space For Kids
Just as adults create home offices, kids need a space of their own to sit down, relax, and concentrate on school work. With a few simple guidelines, you can establish a spot that your child will regard as their place to work, read, create, and focus.
Even the youngest school-age kids are being asked to do homework these days, which makes setting up a productive learning space important from the get-go. Creating a spot that’s consistent, calm, and comfortable makes a world of difference, helping your child transition smoothly from school to home.
But first, food!
Kids need time to decompress after school, so give them time to relax for a little while before getting to homework. Plus, they usually return home feeling famished. Make sure a healthy snack is prepared or easily accessible. After all, brains need energy just as bodies do.
Set the stage
Before focusing on the setting, consider your child’s age, type of schoolwork, level of independence, and any sensory needs. Can you child sit down for long periods of time or do they need to get up and move? Does noise enhance their concentration or create a distraction? Some kids will need a quiet spot, while others will thrive sitting where all the action is.
Promote healthy habits
Establish the Premack principle as early as possible, namely that work comes before play. Begin with whatever assignment is the most challenging and reward it with five minutes of rest or playtime before beginning the next task. Your child will soon learn that even though there are responsibilities we might not enjoy doing, they help us learn and grow. Plus, this practice helps establish consistent study habits will prove beneficial in years to come.
One size doesn’t fit all
A seated desk might be great for some kids, while a standing one is better for others. Some kids work well in small, cozy nooks, while others want to spread out. If you have the space for added furnishings like a child-size desk or table and chairs, that’s great, but you could also use existing furnishings for doing homework, too. What’s important is that your child use that spot consistently, so they know that’s where they go to focus on schoolwork.
The ideal work area
While we often see desks placed in children’s bedrooms, this setup isn’t ideal for younger children, since they typically need supervision. Find a place in the house where you can make sure the work is getting done, free of distractions. If your child can see the television or someone playing video games from that seating area, find another place that inspires more concentration, with ample light and surface space.
Make sure your child’s chair is supportive and comfortable, and the right height for them in proportion to the table or desk. If not, add some pillows, a cushion or booster chair.
Access to supplies
Keep supplies organized in drawers and small bins, and take out only what is needed, then have your child put them away once they’re done. Feel free to keep a pencil can and water bottle handy, but minimize the clutter to prevent distractions and overwhelm.
Organizational skills need to be taught, typically through junior high. Help your child organize assignments, from most challenging to least challenging, so when they run out of steam, they don’t have to use as much brain power.
Use a file folder or expander system to introduce your child to the process of organizing. For example, place construction paper in one folder, lined paper in another, and finished assignments inside the notebook they take to school.
If you have cabinet or empty drawer, dedicate a space to school and art supplies, with sections that make it easy to find things and then put them away when they’re done. Keep a dry erase board in view and make a list of what your child needs to do, then let them erase each task upon completion. Or write a list on a piece of paper and let your child add a sticker or draw a line through that task when it’s done.
Keep track of time
Since most kids have little sense of time, manual or electronic timers really come in handy. Depending on the age of your child, set the timer for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes before giving them a break. Come up with some fun five-minute break activities that will help them get back to work easily.
Reward with playtime
When all their work is done, bravo! Have your child straighten out the work area so it’ll be neat, organized and ready for the next time they visit their learning space. Knowing they’ve accomplished their assignments, playtime will be even more satisfying — a reward well-earned.
Our favourites for a productive home learning space
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- Montessori educator Christina Clemer shares her tips for creating a Montessori home for a toddler
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