I'm not sure who's more excited about days off school – my boys or me – because it means a break from homework. One of my boys has trouble keeping himself organized and focused, which means homework time can be difficult at times (for both him and I).
So this year, I thought I would try to set up a special homework station at his desk in his room and see if that would help him stay focused on his work.
Tips for Setting Up a Homework Station:
- Create a particular spot for doing homework – Set aside a spot where your child will do homework each night after school. It should be the best spot for your child – whether a spot set aside in his/her bedroom, the kitchen table, a spot in your family room, etc. I went back and forth about setting my son up on the kitchen table where I could see him (with a portable homework supply caddy and hinged project board to keep his focus on task) or at his desk in his bedroom. He wanted the desk, so we went with it. I usually work with him to determine the time needed for a task and set a timer, so I remember to check with him that he's on task.
- Keep the homework area quiet and free of distractions – I cleared as much as I could from his desk to make it as distraction-free as possible, and it will be quiet since both he and his brother will be doing homework after school. I have thought about quietly playing some classical music in his room, because background music can actually help me focus on a task. We'll test it for awhile.
- Add Extra Lighting – It's easier to do homework in a well-lit area. We added a lamp to my son's desk so he can have it on for extra lighting above and beyond his overhead light. Plus, it keeps the focus on the desk rather than the entire room.
- Have homework supplies ready and organized – If your child has to search the house for a working pencil just to get started with homework, that's just time wasted that could be spent working on homework. I'll confess, towards the end of the school year, pencils can get scarce at our house, so I've set up some canning jars to store pencils, pens, and erasers. Since my son is older, he needs less supplies than a younger child (ie. no crayons).
- Create an Assignment Organization System – I added a whiteboard wall decal above my son's desk and wrote both the days of the week as well as his subjects to help him keep track of what homework he has to do, especially for projects that have future deadlines and aren't just a one-night assignment. There are also dry erase markers in one of the jars that he can use to write (and an old sock in one of the drawers for erasing).
- Create a Space to Organize Papers – I added a simple drawer container to the desk to store blank writing paper, with drawers left over for assignments in-process and completed assignments.
- Place a trash can nearby to clear clutter – Your child will keep the homework station more tidy if there's a trash can next to the area, where he or she can quickly throw away unneeded papers. Otherwise, they'll likely just collect and make the space cluttered.
- Remember: it doesn't need to be fancy – just functional – If you look on Pinterest, there are lots of great, creative ideas for homework stations. But, really, it just needs to be functional. You don't need to go out and buy all new supplies to create your homework station.
What about you? Do you have a homework station set up for your kids? What are some of your tips?