School is in session and that means homework assignments will be assigned soon. Your child will be more productive and motivated if they have a dedicated space – a homework station – where they can complete their work. The important part of a homework station isn’t where it is located or how fancy it looks, just that your children get in the habit of studying at the same time and in the same place. This habit creates a great foundation for productivity in years to come.
In early elementary school children may need supervision while doing homework. Their homework station should be where you can watch from afar and provide assistance as needed. The kitchen table or counter can work very well. Try to keep distractions to a minimum while your child is working. While we can’t control how loud younger siblings can be, the TV should be off and phone alerts set to silent.
It’s helpful to have basic school supplies on hand when doing homework. Unclutter a drawer or space in a cupboard to store these supplies. A small plastic bin or basket with some paper, pencils, crayons, coloring pencils, glue-sticks, scissors and an eraser should be all you need. Keep the table and kitchen counter clear of toys and other items so that your child can have ample space to do their work. For timed reading assignments or to help with focus, provide a visual analog Time Timer.
Middle and High School
As your kids reach middle school, they will be more independent and may want to do homework in their bedrooms. If this is the case, before school gets into full swing, take some time with your child to make space. Discard, donate and put away clothes, toys and old papers. If your teen is resistant to working with you, we would be happy to help them organize their bedrooms.
A homework station should be a calm space – away from distractions. Take electronics out of the bedroom if need be. Alternately, use a parental control monitoring software such as Qustodio to turn off electronics during homework time.
A homework desk should have good light and a comfy chair. It should be clutter free with basic homework supplies on hand. Use a wall calendar or white board to write down due dates of projects, to-do lists, and reminders. Install an analog clock near the homework space to keep your child productive.
The beginning of the school year is a good time to hold an informal family meeting and reiterate some of the school time rules regarding homework, curfew, screen time and any other topics important to your family. In our family, we don’t allow electronics until after homework is completed. Other families don’t allow electronics during the week at all. If your child has homework over the weekend, clarify existing family commitments during the weekend and plan for when homework will be done.
No matter where your children study, check in with them and ask questions. If you notice that your child seems to be struggling to focus, suggest a change in location. Ask your child what they are working on and what projects are coming up. Help them develop strategies to remember their tasks. Ask the question, “how are you going to remember to remember that?” Help make visual aids such as checklists to help your child develop independence around their homework routine. With all these tools in place, your child is bound to thrive!