by Cary Farrell
August 07, 2013
The second lesson in our back to school articles will cover the aspect of creating a successful study area for your child in your Durham/Chapel Hill/Raleigh home. This is part of the vital life skill of managing their belongings and can make the difference in passing or failing at school.
Creating a study environment for your child at home is less about the furniture and much more about your child’s study preferences. Don’t get ahead of yourself by buying furniture before you take some time to get to know your child and how they learn best. I made the mistake of buying my daughter a desk and she did all her school work on the floor or bed. I kept asking her to use the desk but she was happy on the floor. It is also important to know whether your child prefers to be near others while she is studying or whether she prefers to be alone with quiet. If you set up a study area in your child’s room but they need help or struggle to concentrate alone in quiet, they won’t end up spending much time in their room. If you set up a family study area but your child finds that distracting then they will constantly be looking for a quiet place. The only perfect solution is the one that works for each child. Take some time to investigate what works best for your child before you purchase furniture.
If your child/children enjoy being together doing homework then I suggest setting up a school station in or near the kitchen so the parents can work on meals or bills (adult homework) while the kids are completing school assignments. Be sure to follow this one rule: create storage for what you do where you do it. This will be the most important part of creating a successful home study environment. This doesn’t mean that you have to have traditional “school” furniture near the kitchen. You can use kitchen cabinets or dining room furniture to provide storage for the basic school needs. Don’t however keep all the supplies they will need for K-12 there! Only keep a small supply of what they need and be sure that it is containerized so they can get to what they need and clean it up when they are done. Keep a small supply of art materials for special projects but don’t get carried away with this and don’t keep it in the daily supply area. Keep this in another area where you can get to it if you need it.
If your child does need quiet then consider where they can find that quiet and determine if they enjoy the floor, bed or if they do want a desk to work at. The wooden desks with several drawers on both sides is best for a young student so they have plenty of storage for their school supplies or a simple desk with a rolling cart with drawers can work too. Just be sure and assign each drawer a specific purpose and check with your child occasionally to be sure he hasn’t turned the drawers into junk drawers. Determine if your older child will need a computer desk for his homework and a file drawer to maintain his school work. Do a little investigating of your child and their needs and study preferences before buying furniture.
Good lighting is another important key to a home study area. However some kids like focused light and others prefer room light. Be sure that the lighting is comfortable for your child and their eyes.
Whether your child studies in their room, kitchen or other location, it is important to give them a place to put finished work that might need to be kept for future study or to choose memorabilia pieces from. If your child is in elementary grades than a simple bankers box will do. However the older your student gets the more detailed his filing system will need to be. The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg is a great book to help you set up a system for your child to keep track of all his important school papers. This one skill can mean the difference in passing or failing in school. Your child might do all his work but not be able to find it to turn it in and therefore not receive credit for it. Be sure you help your child create a system that will help him to be successful in not only completing home assignments but also in getting them turned in for credit. This might seem simple for some students and nearly impossible for others. This doesn’t define your student but it does show an area that you will need to be intentional in teaching to them.
In the next article we will talk about helping your child learn how to organize their time as a part of developing this vital skill of self management.