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Back to school: How to create a homework nook


Pay attention to child’s personality, temperament

By Linda White

If the thought of another school year makes you cringe with memories of nagging your kids to complete their homework at the kitchen island as you struggle to prepare dinner, you might want to create a dedicated study space or homework nook.

“Especially for younger ages, a homework station is a good idea because there are expectations that this is where they do their homework,” says Ron Felson, a centrally assigned principal with the Toronto District School Board.

He recommends a study space that’s in the open but where your kids won’t be distracted by things like the TV. “More and more kids are on computers when they’re doing their homework and there’s the concern they’re distracted by social media and alerts that pop up. Being in an open space also allows parents or guardians to engage in the homework process and opens the door to communicating with your son or daughter about what they’re working on.”

Kids may appreciate a quieter place as they get older but Felson suggests they still do their homework in a relatively open space — much like the workplace, where a growing number of businesses have embraced hotelling, the method of reserving office space instead of assigning employees a regular workspace. “It’s important for teenagers to start learning those skills. Many are already taking their laptop to a library or working at a friend’s house or a coffee shop,” says Felson.

While many parents appreciate having a dedicated study space in a common area like a kitchen, it’s important to pay attention to the personality and temperament of each child who will be using the space, notes productivity expert Clare Kumar of Toronto.

About 15 to 20 per cent of people are highly sensitive, which means they have a particularly high measure of sensory processing sensitivity. “If you stick somebody who is very sensitive to noise, light and visual stimulation in the middle of the kitchen with lots going on, or in an open-concept office, they’re going to be exhausted just trying to think straight,” she says. “If you put someone who has very high filters and is very social in a basement study, they could feel confined.”

With that in mind, make the space you choose effective for studying. In an open space, for instance, have dedicated storage so everything your child needs to complete their homework and study is easily accessible and can be easily tucked away. That could be rolling caddy that goes into a closet or vertical magazine holders to store paper.

Your home may feel like it’s bursting at the seams but a study space doesn’t need to be large, reminds Linda Mazur, principal of Linda Mazur Design Group in Toronto. There may be numerous spaces you might overlook that could serve as a study space or homework nook. Mazur’s team has placed a desk on a large staircase landing and has also opened the space under a staircase to create a study area.

“When you live in a smaller footprint and space is at a premium you need to get creative,” Mazur says. “Depending on your needs, a desk space can be created in any small nook or as part of a bookcase/shelf unit. An unused closet space is great to create a desk and some shelving above. Furniture has also come a long way for smaller spaces. Coffee tables that fold up into a worktable and narrow desks that serve double duty as a console/sofa table or hall table are just a couple of ideas.”

PLAN for success

Productivity expert Clare Kumar shares two organizational models that can help you create the perfect homework nook for your kids. The first is PLAN:

P rioritize: Decide what you’re going to do in the space, what you need to make that happen and how you want the space to feel.

L iberate: Let go of the things that don’t serve those priorities.

A rrange: Physically place things so you expend the appropriate amount of energy retrieving them.

N urture: Nurture your environment and create habits needed to restore order to the space.

Kumar’s second model – VAMP – offers principles needed to successfully arrange your space:

V isual: Ensure your kids can easily see the things needed to complete their homework.

A ccessible: Make sure your child can reach the things they need.

M anageable: Invest in items your child can interact with easily. For example, don’t buy a three-inch binder because it’s cheaper than three one-inch binders if your child can’t hold it properly.

P leasing to interact with and protect what you need to store. Focus on whatever will help your child interact with the space, such as texture, colour and scent.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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