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From educational activities to top-notch school supplies, you try to give your kids everything they need to get ahead in their education. And creating a good space at home to work is essential. Whether it’s a corner of the kitchen table or a cordoned-off work zone, your children’s homework space matters.
“One of the most valuable things parents can do is provide a set space for students to do their homework — and turn off the TV and video games,” says Glenn Kessinger, a middle school instructional facilitator in Yakima, WA. A dedicated space helps kids focus on their tasks and improves concentration. It also makes it easier for your children to get and stay organized.
It’s easy to be distracted when faced with something you don’t want to do. Now imagine what it’s like for children facing a pile of homework when games, friends and TV beckon their attention. To help them focus, help kids pick a homework space that’s as quiet and secluded as possible, and declare it a schoolwork-only zone where computers and devices are used only if necessary to complete assignments.
“Allow your child to have some say in the matter of where the area is and how it’s set up,” suggests David Bakke, an Atlanta-area father. Giving a little ownership in the location increases the odds they’ll actually use it.
“All of your main school supplies should be within reach, and anything your kids don’t use on a daily basis should be kept off the surface,” advises New York-based organizer Barbara Reich, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom. “A homework space should be a place where a child wants to learn, not a place for clutter and mess.”
A few organizational items make it easy to grab just what your child needs without rummaging through a lot of other stuff. “A desktop organizer or drawer insert keeps all of the school supplies separated and neat,” she says. For younger kids who often prefer the floor, use small containers for pencils, glue, markers and other supplies. And be sure to keep things fun with personalized or colorful supplies and organizers.
If your child’s homework space does double duty, make it easy to access and put away all the materials. “Use a tote or storage bin to store school supplies,” suggests The Organizing Guy, Los Angeles-based Bill Bliesath. “Choose a size that stores all the items without too much unused space — it’s easier to store in a nearby cupboard or under the bed.”
And don’t forget to keep frequently used items in stock in your child’s homework space. Designate a space — a shelf in the linen closet or a dedicated cabinet, perhaps — for art and school supplies, and then take a tip from your office manager and check the inventory weekly or monthly. This will help you avoid any late night trips for glitter glue or colored paper.
You can create an effective homework space in any corner of your home with a little bit of planning and maintenance. “Staying organized throughout the year is about having designated places to put both schoolwork and school supplies, and cleaning up weekly — if not daily,” Reich says.