Working from home takes on entirely new meaning when it doesn’t apply to you. If your kids are attending school virtually, you don’t need to think about buying back-to-school shirts as much as you do creating a dedicated space to do their homework. It’s incredibly important to commit to this task. Why? Simple: Kids need focus and motivation. It’s hard to prioritize either of those when there’s a TV blaring in the background, a tablet threatening to steal their attention, or a smartphone loaded with games sitting nearby. It’s all just too much.
The key is to create a zone that makes it easy for them to sit down and get to work — without all of those external distractions threatening to pull them away from it. Clearing some room on the kitchen table is a good start, provided no one’s cooking or making noise that might disturb your little one. Otherwise, get creative and start brainstorming! Here are a few ideas for developing a space that your kids will look forward to using for their work.
First things first: A clean space is conducive to greater productivity. It applies to children just as much as it does to adults. Maintaining a clean bedroom not only helps them focus better, but also instills great habits in them. If they sit at a clean desk but look to the left and right and find nothing but piles of toys and mounds of clothes everywhere, they’re likely to become distracted fairly easily.
Fortunately, it’s easy to resolve this. Hang up the clothes and place the toys in a kids’ storage container. Remind your kids that when they want to play with something later, they should put it back in the container when they’re done. Use this entire process as a learning experience so you can help them create better habits as they go along. It’s a winning situation for everyone involved — including parents who’ll have to clean up less as a result!
Now it’s time for your child to channel his or her inner artist and have some fun. If you get them involved in the process of creating a home workspace, they are far more likely to feel motivated enough to actually sit there and do their work. They’ll take pride in their accomplishments, and you can feel good knowing that they had a hand in the process. To begin, gather all the essentials: a large display board, markers, paint, embellishments, string lights, and anything else your child can dream up. The goal is to create something playful and expressive — a miniature office, of sorts, that belongs solely to them.
Decorate the display board’s trim with colorful accents and lighting, if your child wants. Encourage them to decorate the board however they wish; just make sure that if they’re painting, they wear a smock to protect those kids’ T-shirts and jeans! Then glue essentials to it, like a peg where they can hang a ruler, a small caddy to hold pencils, pens, crayons, and scissors, a small erasable whiteboard for daily notes, a calendar, and a map. Place the board on their desk, or a quiet space with a table where no one will disturb them. Make sure to leave enough room in the front to keep books, a laptop, and headphones handy.
Even if there’s no room to create something artsy, you can carefully carve out a comfortable space for your child to study. The key is to focus on the right elements. Among the most important factors is the lighting situation. Bright light is best. If there’s a window in the room, you can push back the curtains or pull up the blinds, but make sure it doesn’t produce a glare on their computer screen. Prepare for that possibility by adding enough lighting to the room — ambient light to brighten the entire space and task light to illuminate the direct area where they work.
If they’re working somewhere else in the house, like a corner of the family room or your home office, take a good look around. Could it use a little sprucing up? This is a good excuse to toss items that don’t have a good home into canvas storage bins and to clear away some unnecessary clutter.
The last thing you want is for your little one to develop aches and pains because they’ve been seated at their desk throughout the day. Adults know all too well the discomfort of back pain and neck pain associated with poor posture while tapping away at the computer, but you can help your child get started on the right foot — and help them develop improved working habits at the same time.
First, make sure their seat is comfortable. If it’s adjustable, that’s great — they can easily find a sweet spot that’s just right for their needs. Otherwise, add something under their feet, like a footrest, if they don’t quite touch the ground just yet. Need more height? Try placing a pillow on the chair instead. A throw pillow nestled behind them can also provide some essential support for their back as the day progresses. Don’t forget to prioritize regular breaks, too; the physical activity will do them good.
With a little creativity, a little time, and a little focus, you and your child can create an effective workspace together. Odds are they’ll look forward to making good use of their new work zone — and you can feel great about your child’s ingenuity and motivations, too.