I meet with a lot of parents who want to get their child’s room organized. While a lot of it has to do with toys, clutter control, self-sufficiency and the desire to help a child keep a clean room, parents are often prompted by the promise of academic focus via putting a desk in their child’s room.
Of course, their heart is in the right place. I mean, we LEARN by sitting at desks, right?
However, I’m here to tell you today that a desk in your child’s room may not be the best idea.
Oh, I know. I don’t want to crush your hopes and dreams. I don’t want to smash your idea of your child quietly working in their room on homework straight up until dinner.
However, I do want to work with you to create a different vision of learning–a vision that probably already matches what is going on in your home–so why mess with it?
Most kids learn by interaction.
Not EVERY child–but most kids. When your child is bugging the crap out of you, asking you for homework help while you’re trying to get things done? They’re learning. They’re processing their thoughts. They’re using thorough reasoning skills out loud to get to the right answer.
Putting the child away in their room with a desk can actually be counterintuitive. They aren’t able to utilize their learning style. They get distracted. They end up playing with something else. Parent enters, the room, gets frustrated that homework isn’t getting done. Everyone is mad.
Desks become clutter catchers.
I had some pretty cool desks growing up. One was a recycled school desk that we spray-painted blue (it looked amazing!) One was a vanity that my grandpa built from a kit and my Mom spent hours staining.
These desks had two things in common:
1) My parents, who love and care about me deeply, wanted to give me something that would make my space better.
2) 95% of the time, these desks were covered in CRAP–art supplies, doll stuff, old candy, candles…you get the point. The times when they were cleared off is when I was using them to play “teacher” or “school” with my friends.
I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate having these in my space–I did! Obviously I remember them fondly. However, you can see that I don’t remember them fondly as effective study spaces–they were surfaces for storage and ocassionally play.
Advice From the Organizer
1. Nuture your child’s learning style. If your child works well alone, by all means, give them a piece of furniture in their space that works for them–but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Some kids sit at desks all day at school anyway, so be creative on what will help them learn.
2. Have homework supplies available in different parts of the house. Sometimes a child might have a burst of energy and want to do homework in their bedroom or in the family room. Sometimes they’ll want to do it at the kitchen table. By having the right materials available, they’re able to go with the flow of their energy and get more done.
3. If you must put a desk in (or already have) be open to the possibilities. I learned so much from playing school with my friends at my desks over the years–don’t limit their desks to study spaces.
4. Provide structure. If you do find your child working at the kitchen table usually but it drives you crazy to have their stuff everywhere, give them a specific place to store their study supplies.
There are so many things that we think our kids NEED to succeed. The truth is that kids succeed most when they have positive attention from YOU, the parent. Wherever they work in whatever environment, you are the main factor in their success.
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