In case you haven’t noticed all the sales and picked-over school supply sections in your local stores, it’s back to school time! And you know what that means – lots of complaints from your kids, forgotten permission slips, trips to school to deliver lunches, and fights over homework.
Good news: it doesn’t have to be that way – at least not the fighting over homework part. (For tips on corralling those permission slips and lunches, check out this post on whole-home back to school organizing.) Whether you have a dedicated homework room (check these out for inspiration) or not, we’re here to help you get your kids’ homework down to a science. It all starts with a great homework station.
A homework station is crucial to effective homework management. It doesn’t have to be a separate room – a designated area works fine, and even a mobile station works if you’re short on space:
Click the image for a tutorial. Ingenious for those who can’t spare any room for a homework space!
You may also consider a flip-down wall-mounted homework desk like this one:
Again, click any image for more information. This one works best for young children, but it can be adapted to meet your needs.
Every good homework station should include these five elements for maximum homework time and minimal distractions:
- All necessary materials on hand. If you sit down to do homework and then have to hunt for a pencil, eraser, calculator, or stapler, the potential for distraction is much greater as you waste time. Be sure to keep the homework station well stocked with everything your kids need for homework, depending on their ages and stages. Essentials include:
- Writing instruments (for young children, include markers and crayons)
- Paper (lined and/or printer, depending on your level of techiness)
Consider a wall calendar and/or marker board to help keep track of assignments, tests, and events. Be sure to keep supplies organized and accessible and to refill when they run low.
- Create a distraction-free zone. This one is the most important. Yes, kids like to be in the center of the action, but working at the kitchen table while surrounded by noise, action, and the lure of the nearby TV is a recipe for disaster. Tuck the homework station into a quiet corner for maximum productivity.
- … but keep it accessible. Situate the homework spot somewhere that you can supervise easily (say, at the end of the kitchen or near your own workstation so that you can keep an eye on kids while you make dinner or finish paying the bills or send emails) and where your kid has access to you (or the phone) for when the homework gets tricky. Ideally, homework-doing kids should be in earshot and your line of vision.
- Comfortable seating. After spending the day crammed into a tight, hard desk at school. your kid will balk at the idea of doing homework in an uncomfortable position. But you can’t stand the sight of your teen doing homework while slouched into a beanbag chair. Find comfy but ergonomically correct chairs for homework to increase concentration.
- Good lighting. (AKA “Stop squinting or you’ll ruin your eyes!”) You may have fabulous overhead lighting, but task lighting, like a desk lamp, is essential to put the spotlight – literally – on the homework.
Now that you’ve got that under control… ready for back to school? Good luck, and share your organizing tips with us in the comments!