Guest post by Susan Good
The kitchen table might seem like the best spot for your child to do homework, but the truth is, it’s far from an ideal space for learning. Sure, it lets you keep an eye on your little one, but it’s also an area rife with distraction. Not to mention, using a multi-purpose space for homework means paper, pencils, and other supplies have to be brought in and cleaned up every day, and that takes time. Instead of sitting your kids down in the busiest spot in the house, create a distraction-free learning corner where they can get lost in their studies.
A learning corner doesn’t need to be a dedicated room, but it should be a quiet area without much traffic. A corner of your own home office, a guest bedroom, or a formal dining room are all good candidates. Make sure no one else will be using the space to watch TV or do anything else that will pull your child’s attention away from learning.
Outfit your child’s learning corner with a desk or table stocked with all the supplies he needs. When homework supplies are where your child needs them, there’s no getting up every five minutes to grab something.
Don’t eschew technology in the learning corner; computers and tablets can be great educational tools. If your child is prone to online distraction, use parental controls to block specific sites during homework time. While there are a number of ways to apply parental controls, browser extensions are the easiest. Read TechNorms’ guide to learn how to use them.
Don’t let the learning corner turn into an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. Check in regularly to see if your child needs help and keep him on track so homework doesn’t drag on forever.
Finally, remember that homework isn’t the only form that learning takes. Create a space that invites all sorts of learning, not just studying at a desk. Do this by incorporating fun elements that make children want to spend time in their learning corner.
Here are some ideas that kids are sure to love:
- Art supplies: Art isn’t just fun for kids, it also plays an important role in their development. According to PBS, making art strengthens motor skills, language development, visual learning, decision making, and more. When art supplies are kept in your child’s learning corner, it’s easier to keep messes contained.
- Educational magazines: If you have a reluctant reader, stock your learning corner with educational magazines. Magazines are less intimidating than books and they’re full of images to keep kids engaged. Even for avid readers, magazines are a great way to mix up your child’s reading material. For great educational magazines to stock in your home, check out these suggestions from We are Teachers.
- A bean bag chair: It’s the little things that make life fun, like sitting in a bean bag chair while getting lost in a story. Plus, bean bag chairs come in a variety of sizes, which makes them easy to fit into a variety of spaces and to stow away in a closet if need be. You can find a ton of great options online — involve your child in the choice to make her feel more included in the set up.
- A colorful rug: You don’t have to redecorate the entire room to make the learning corner kid-friendly. With a colorful patterned rug, you can turn any old corner into a space your kid thinks is cool. Other ideas for decorating the learning corner include educational posters and maps, floating bookshelves, and a fabric bulletin board.
If you had to sit at the kitchen table to do all your work, you probably wouldn’t be thrilled about it either. By creating a learning corner in your home, you cut out distractions and reinforce routines so your child can become immersed in the learning experience. Another benefit? You finally get your kitchen table back, so there’s no more fighting for space when dinner time rolls around.