How to Create the Perfect Kids Homework Station

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The perfect grade for any home office? F. Think form and function – and family friendliness to boot. As families grow, however, you’ll find that home office takes on new meaning. It’s no longer just one place for adults to tackle budgeting or take-home work. More likely than not, you’ll be adding mini workspaces throughout your home, not unlike satellite offices blooming after a robust young business’s first IPO!

Kids’ study areas can be set up anywhere in the house, depending on your space and lifestyle needs. Here’s how to create a highly functional study area for your busy young student – without breaking the bank or cramping your style.

Step 1: Location, Location, Location

The first place you may think to set up you child’s study area may be in his or her bedroom. However, keep in mind that kids benefit from your availability to offer help with homework (not direction, you helicopter parents out there!)

Also, they may prefer to work with family nearby, not cloistered in their bedroom. So, for that reason, placing the study area in a space closer to where all the action is may be preferable, such as the family room, shared playroom, an existing home office, or even the kitchen or dining room.

It’s a matter of what works best for your family, though – and where you’ve got extra room.

Step 2: Create the Study Space

For grade school kids, sitting upright and having a stable writing surface will produce better homework results. In other words: think desk or table, plus chair. (Teens are notorious for their armchair or in-bed study habits, but it’s not suited for younger learners.)

You can create a typical study desk arrangement, or you can simply “timeshare” workspace from your existing kitchen or dining table, for a floating workspace that can be set up when the table’s not in use.

The latter requires stocking an “office in a bin”: basically storage and supplies that your child totes to the common area and packs up after use. Stash the office-in-a-bin in a cupboard or closet when not in use.

If choosing a desk and chair combo, consider:

Utility: built-in desk drawers provide seamless storage and give a desk a more traditional aesthetic. But a contemporary-style desk without built-in storage can easily be shared between two people: just set chairs on either side, facing one another.

Chairs can be “ergonomic” or not, but the key is comfort. Your child should be comfortable sitting on it. The most comfortable “desk” chair I’ve ever had in my life is my current one, actually a midcentury-modern dining room chair (my daughter loves it too!)

Versatility: Table-style desks on legs can often be height-adjusted. Height-adjustable desks and chairs are nice (though not essential) for growing kids.

Budget: Who doesn’t want to save these days? IKEA is the go-to place for low-cost, contemporary-styled furniture, and their always-fun showrooms are the perfect place to let your kids try out various desk-and-chair combos. They also give you the opportunity to see which models have withstood wear and tear well…and which haven’t!

Other affordable ways to get a great look for less include: flea markets (for country-chic or cottage-chic painted desks and chairs, often in smaller sizes – or even an old schoolhouse-style combination desk-and-seat), or try Craigslist or Kijiji for used goods others have outgrown. Scout yard sales during warmer weather months.

Pottery Barn Kids is pricier, but their well-crafted wooden furniture lends itself very well for use in common areas like family rooms.

Step 3: Lighting

Add a desk light to the study area. This additional task lighting is easier on the eyes than ambient overhead lighting alone.

But if you’re using the floating, office-in-a-bin concept and your child will be working on the kitchen or dining room table, customize illumination levels by installing a dimmer switch to the main fixture, and then putting in the maximum wattage bulbs it can take (this will be labeled on the fixture itself, or on the packaging it came in, you can also check your light model online). That way, you can crank it up for study time, then dim it to mood-appropriate levels for mealtime.

Step 4: Storage

Where possible, closed storage (hidden behind doors and drawers) is the way to go for a clutter-less appearance. Books are best on open storage so they are front of mind.

Add storage to the study area in the form of: a filing cabinet, armoire, pop-top ottoman, built-in wall unit, or even baskets that can go on existing open shelving.

Stylish desk accessories make it fun to stay organized. Let your kids choose their own.

For a floating work station, you just need a sturdy bin to move supplies to and fro in, such as a heavy-duty laundry basket, wheeled plastic bin, and so on. Writing and art supplies can be kept in pencil cases.

Step 5: Aesthetic Considerations

Colour can affect mood, so choose wisely if you’re painting the study area. Get some input from your kids, since a colour they intensely dislike may make them feel less-than-stoked about studying. Steer them to colour choices you prefer, and then let them help make the final choice.

Neutrals like white and taupes have a generally calming effect. White makes a room seem more expansive, while taupe will make it seem cozier.

Warm hues like red, orange and yellow are energetic and stimulating.

Cool hues like green, blue, grey and violet feel more soothing and peaceful.

Colour can also be worked into the room through flooring, soft furnishings, window treatments and accessories.

Finally, monitor air quality. If the air feels damp, put a dehumidifier in place. Maintain a comfortable temperature, and ensure there’s good ventilation so cooking smells or other distracting aromas don’t linger. Consider using an aromatherapy dispenser to disperse pleasant essential oil blends around the room.

3 Study-Area Safety Tips

• Keep computers in common areas, not in kids’ rooms.
• Bolt cabinets and tall storage units to the wall.
• Avoid obstructing traffic paths when arranging desks in a common space.

Source: By YUKI HAYASHI


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