How to designate a homework area in your house for kids
With school back in session, your kids’ homework mode should be in full swing, right? But for those kids who still have summer on their brain or simply no interest in putting pen to paper, there is a way to lure them into studying: a homework corner.
According to organizational expert and HGTV personality Jill Pollack, the best place for kids to find a spot in the house to do homework is somewhere quiet where there are no distractions.
“Kids need a space to spread out that is somewhere far from technology so they can concentrate because at the end of the day it’s about being focused,” she said. “You have to be realistic about how your child works, so try and make homework a sequence.”
But not every parent can sacrifice the dining room table and others don’t want kids doing work in their bedrooms. So what to do?
“If you can’t forfeit an entire room—I turned one of my closets in my old apartment into an office—simply designate a corner or a small space in your house for your child’s needs,” said Pollack, suggesting that even an area as tiny as three feet by three feet can work. “A child should have their own space no matter how old they are.”
If you don’t have a surface to work with, use the wall and hang shelves. Easy DIY shelves can be made from simple boards nailed into the wall or craft store wooden boxes that can be stacked or glued together, making it easy to relocate if the space needed to be moved to somewhere else in the house. Command hooks are great for hanging heavy items and they won’t peel of your wallpaper.
Pollack also suggests hooking shoe bags to the wall to store supplies and organize crayons, markers, bookmarks, a calculator and other school items. Take it a step further and invest in a label maker so you can label where each item has a home, making cleanup a breeze.
“A binder with different colored inserts is a great way to organize your stuff and can store a lot: pencils, stickers and erasers, you don’t need a drawer for that,” said Pollack, who added that the academic area should be age appropriate. “Creating a mini filing system for high schoolers or hang a string across the wall to hang your third-grader’s art…those are great ways to personalize the area. You want it to be functional, but appealing, so kids will want to go there.”
When it comes to essentials, Pollack said that aside from writing utensils, proper lighting (a good lamp or natural light is even better), a clock, a good flat surface and a comfortable chair are must-haves in a homework space. As for the decorating, that’s on the new tenant.
“It should be an extension of the child so that they want to spend time there. Paint it a calming color like a blue or green or an upbeat and stimulating red or yellow, depending on the child’s temperament,” said Pollack, who also added that if the child wants to have an input in their space, to give them the opportunity to help design it. “Chalkboard paint on walls and peel and stick icons are easy and inexpensive ways to transform a plain wall, and they are also great for to-do lists, reminders and special projects.”
When getting your child to clean up this space that is now their own, Pollack said to treat it like a responsibility.
“Some kids are innately organized and they want everything in order. But for the kid who isn’t, simply ask them ‘where does that live?’ when referring to an item that needs to be put away,” she said. “Talk it out with them or even make a cheat sheet or a map so they know where things go in their new space. This is a great way to give them a grown-up space in the family home and a place where they feel they can come to on their own.”