Homework time is here again.
Now that school is in full swing, it’s math worksheets. And book reports. And vocabulary cards, and science projects, and chapter summaries …
Studies show that kids who do homework are more successful in school, likely due to the discipline and study habits they learn. (Of course, other studies caveat that too much homework is a bad thing, but we don’t see a nationwide homework limit happening anytime soon.)
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And while getting it done works differently in every household, if your child doesn’t complete his work in study hall or in an after-school program, he needs a proper place to do it at home.
Not underfoot. Not in the car. Not while laying down on bed eating Doritos and watching TV. He needs a homework spot. To help set your kid up for success this year (and for many years to come), consider these three things when creating his homework happy place.
You won’t even need to buy a fancy desk … we promise.
Most kids just want to be close to the action. And the action in most houses is in the kitchen, whether your family is cooking, eating or just hanging out. For this reason, a seat at the kitchen or dining room table (or counter, if you have one) as you prepare dinner or right after is often a good choice. In your house, the action may be somewhere else.
Just be careful: Picking a spot that’s “close to the action” can also equal distraction. It’s okay to have your kid out with the rest of the family while he’s working, as long as big brother isn’t playing video games right next to him while dad listens to NPR at top volume.
By having your children do their work nearby but not underfoot, you can:
- Keep an eye out to make sure they stay focused
- Answer any questions
- Check over their assignments as they work or when they finish
Of course, much of your child’s homework is likely on the computer, meaning your child will have to work where the computer is. Also, the older the child, the less supervision he’ll need. High schoolers studying for a big test might need the quiet of their bedrooms, so the homework spot doesn’t have to be set in stone–consider helping your child pick a new one at the start of each school year.
Successful homework completion usually requires the same few materials. Since your child’s homework spot probably isn’t alone in her room, and you don’t want to spend half your life tripping over her supplies, we recommend consolidating them into a “homework kit” in a tote bag, shoe box or caddy, which can live somewhere easily accessible from the homework spot. (Plus, if she goes over to a friend’s house to work on a project, this will be easily transportable.)
The kit should contain:
- Pencils and a pencil sharpener
- A ruled notebook
- Crayons, colored pencils or markers
- Index cards
- Post-It notes or notepad
- A calculator
Kids in different grades might need different supplies, but the above basics are a good start.
Here’s the thing: You probably don’t want your child to be too comfortable. Sure, college students might study in bed, but after a long day of school and extracurriculars, a too-comfy workplace might put an elementary or middle-schooler right to sleep. In this case, comfort means less “a great place for a nap” and more “what I need to do my work.” A comfortable workspace has things like:
- Enough flat space to lay out a few worksheets, a textbook or a computer
- A chair of reasonable height, so your child can sit flat and easily reach the table, desk or counter
- A seat that’s out of the way, so the homework-doer won’t have to move every time someone needs to get by
Of course, a kindergartner who needs to read a book for homework might be more comfortable on the living room rug, and a high schooler who just needs to drill French vocabulary might be fine on the couch. As with most things, picking a comfortable, convenient and well-stocked homework space depends most on what works best for your family.