Recently, a client asked me how to set up her children’s homework space. Each learner is different, so there are some definite things to consider in order to maximize learning for school agers and teens. Here’s what comes to mind when the seemingly simple homework space question comes up:
Does your child learn best when you are there to help, or does he prefer his own space?
If you end up helping your child for the majority of his homework time, the good old kitchen table isn’t a bad place to set up! Keep a basket full of necessary supplies (paper, notebooks, tape, stapler, pens, pencils, etc.) in the corner of the kitchen and take it out at homework time for a great way to keep the clutter at bay. As an added bonus when using the table, you can cook dinner in between long division problems!
For kids who learn better with no interactions, a space in their room and/or an upstairs office is perfect! Having more than one space from which to choose, depending on their mood, can be a great help if you have the room. And again, a supply basket can come in handy when moving space-to-space.
Have lots of space? Having many stations for homework is great! Kids like choices, so giving them the power to choose their workspace can help them get more done.
Ever heard of a “wiggle seat?” I discovered these when volunteering in a kindergarten classroom a few years ago! Some kids need to move when they’re working, so a special, air-filled rubber cushion or yoga ball can be perfect spot on which to sit when they are getting things done.
But sometimes a wiggle seat just isn’t enough. A friend’s child told me that he jogs with his mom while they go over spelling words. The same family has treadmills available in their family room, and the kids use them! Movement stimulates the brain at all ages, so don’t rule out active learning.
Make sure to get a reading list from your child’s teacher early on so that you can order or reserve audio books. These are great for moving around, for while a child sits drawing in her room, and even while she rests on her bed. Even if it’s not the primary way of “reading” a book, listening to an audio book can be a great way to review before a test. Make CD players and tape players available with and without headphones.
You know the old sitcom schtick–two students studying, one rocks out to music, the other needs silence, and they drive each other crazy? Well…it’s completely valid. Again, people learn in different ways! Your child may need an external stimulus such as the radio to focus better. Give it a try.
Give your child’s teacher a call and ask what the student’s strengths are. Is he great at math? Does he excel at chalkboard work? Or is he better with pop quizzes, using a pencil and paper? Is he great during silent reading but can’t stop chatting with friends during group story time? Take the input and use it in your home. A variety of learning approaches can really help kids find their niche.