Creative Homework spaces for kids
With the new school year just around the corner, this is the right time to get organised with your kid's workspace. From a new desk and chair to a whole room makeover, you want to have everything in place before the school bell rings. The last week before school should be all about getting back to a routine - early night sleeping for example - not about painting walls and building desks! You also want to have enough time to check out and order cool new accessories, everything to get your kids motivated about a fresh start at school.
Even if you already have a work space arranged for them, how are you feeling about their whole room in general? Is the furniture practically arranged for their age group?
There are quite a few things I have learnt this summer talking to a educational psychologist and which I will be using to take my kid's learning to the next level (and so can you!).
Photo: The Wildones
The reality hit home last weekend when we went shopping for new school uniforms as the kid is - wait for it - off to year 4 in September! What! When did that happen? I am not ready for him to grow older yet, every milk tooth he's losing is both a cause for great joy (in front of him) and panic (behind closed doors!). Do you feel the same?
With him getting older and having discovered a serious hobby in reading (I just cannot explain how many books he can read through the week at the moment) I am now getting to a point where I had to consider giving him his own work space away from me. Something fun but still practical, because the last thing I need is messy rooms and lost school books.
Play area and THAT stack of books. Photo: Seasons in Colour (c)
So far, we had the right balance of play and work space: his room was a play area and my office would be shared with him so I could supervise when he was doing homework.
This has worked well but as he grows older I am realising that he also needs to work more independently and un-supervised. It's a learning curve for me to: learning to trust that he will complete assignments on his own without me hovering over his head or scolding him when his mind drifts back to games.
Reading area. Photo: Seasons in Colour (c)
Teach them to sit properly
The first tip that was shared with me - and which I can now share with you - is that, if you have a kid that likes to more around a lot, you need to do one of these three things:
a) their desk and chair have to be height appropriate. Give them a tall chair and what will happen with feet that don't touch the floor? Yup, they will move around. So choose a kid's chair with a stable base - not a swivel chair - and make sure their soles can touch the ground. We will be getting this height adjustable desk when back from holidays and I cannot wait to try it out! A good alternative is this one (4 different heights).
Kids room rendering by Iliya Gushin
If you do not want to spend money on a chair like that then you need to do b) get them an under desk footrest (brilliant, I know, right, why had I not thought about that previously?!) A foot rest can also help to 'ground' little feet.
And if you do have the appropriate chair but don't like the idea of a footrest your final option is c) use a wedge cushion. This is a special wedge shape cushion that encourages correct posture helping the proprioceptive sense (which has receptors in the skin, muscles, joints & ligaments).
The proprioceptive sense is our sense of body awareness and is key to sensory processing. By improving posture and encouraging “active” sitting with a wedge cushion, children can sit and stay focused for longer as body awareness is improved, the need to fidget is reduced. Below, left to right: chair by Hazelwood Home, Lina Chair by Roba and children's by Slide Art, all via Wayfair.
Remind them to keep a tidy desk
Judging from my own experience, to kickstart any project I need my home office to be very clean and tidy. A messy room does not inspire anything other than messy thoughts. For a clutter free room, make sure you have adequate storage. Use desk drawers, an under-desk chest of drawers, floating shelves and storage boxes.
These wall display shelves (below right) already look great but you can customise them by dressing the inside with leftover wallpaper.
Storage boxes should be used with caution. They too can invite mess. Especially when one crucial thing they need is * magically * stuffed in the bottom.
Always clean up at the end
I keep all of desk area clean and pack everything away at the end of the day. That way I always find a clean office the next morning. Desks with drawers are great for kids, especially as you have all the colourful pencils that can - once scattered around - make the work space unsightly. Teach kids early on to clean up after they made a mess. Believe me, it will come handy once they start going to school. And if they don't, make them lose time off play time.
If your room is lacking colour, you can always add some with decorative boxes. If they are small, they can hide away pencils, crayons and the like. If they are big, you can even use them to hide away toys for an even cleaner looking room. A good alternative is a free standing desk-bookcase combo.
Keep track of time
As kids get older, they get more homework and with exams they need to learn to finish assignments on time. Did you know that some younger kids may have difficulty 'visualising' how much time they have available when you say "do this page of maths in 5 minutes"?
Even digital timers will not work in such cases. A simple - again - solution, is old fashioned sand timers (Hourglass) where you can "visualise" time. This one from House Doctor will work, but you might prefer something that tracks 10, 20 or 30 minutes top.
Any kid (ahem, even older kids, myself included!) will love a good gadget on their desk. This sharpener desk tidy will seem magical. If you are running out of space on the desk you can also use a clip-on desk light like this one in green. For smaller spaces, use optical illusions for extra space like with a ghost chair. This rounded pegboard comes in many different colours to match your room decor.
Kids room desk space inspiration
Design: Maria - Yoana Popova
Design: Basma Mashaly
Design: Clean Design Partners
Design: Sims Hilditch
Design: Chango & Co
Design: Amber Interiors
Design: Alice Lane