Instead of Burning Questions this month, we're tackling a big back-to-school issue that can be a bit of a challenge in homes around the world… homework time! Before your child puts pencil to paper, make sure they have the right surroundings to work and study in to create positive study habits at home. One of the best ways to encourage your child to complete their assignments is to create a homework space that's all their own.
We're breaking down the ABCs of creating a comfortable space that will have your child on their way to an A+!
A. The Set Up
First, consider your child's study style. If they are easily distracted, a secluded, quiet spot is best, but if they're more comfortable working with other people around, choose a corner of the living room or kitchen. Make sure the area is free of clutter and that other family members respect "homework time." TVs should be turned off, as should any loud computer or video game sound effects and loud music. Make sure the space has bright lighting and close-at-hand supplies, to cut down on interruptions and stopping and starting.
Two other essentials are a reasonably large work surface and comfortable seating. The table should be about waist-level when the child sits down. It's also important that their feet touch the floor and don't dangle, as we know from experience, this could create an added distraction (and sound effects). If you can afford to buy an adjustable chair, that's great, but you can also adjust your existing furniture by stacking pillows or even telephone books on the seat. If your child's feet don't rest on the floor, use a footrest, boxes, or more stacked telephone books.
Finally, let your child take part in creating his study space so he'll feel more comfortable and be less likely to think of homework as a chore. Younger children especially work best when they are allowed to incorporate play and fantasy into their routine. Your child might feel less intimidated if he has a favorite stuffed animal sitting beside him to "help" study spelling words, or if she has a "magic thinking hat" to wear when stumped by a math problem.
B. Computer Smarts
A few additional ergonomic guidelines should be followed when your child works at a computer. The monitor should be level with his head, and it should be directly in front of him, about 18 to 30 inches away. Make sure there's no glare falling on the screen or use an anti-glare screen, as glare causes eyestrain. If your child is very young, consider getting a kid-sized keyboard and mouse or switching to a trackball, as little hands often have trouble using these adult-sized components.
C. Necessary Stuff
Once you've got the space and furniture covered, stock up on basic supplies. For younger children, also include arts and crafts materials. For older children, include a dictionary, thesaurus, and an atlas. Use colorful jars to hold supplies, or for a portable option, use plastic stackable cubes or even a sturdy shoebox. Get your child involved in choosing boxes or decorating jars and picking out supplies. And, for kids working at a common area such as the kitchen table, bringing out the "homework supplies" is also a great way to indicate that study time has begun.
The other essential item for all ages is a wall calendar where your child can record assignment due dates and other important information. It's also a good idea to have the class list or numbers of a few peers in each class handy and readily available on the fridge or bulletin board, in case your child is stuck, has missed an assignment, or was out sick.