(Editor’s note: Today’s guest post is courtesy of Lloyd Burrell, who has suggestions for office space for children. Thanks, Lloyd!)
In essence a home school office is a well-designed, but simple, workspace for the kids. This area can be small or large, but it has to be functional. That means even if its a room which puts the kids center stage it should at least be big enough for the parent and student to fit comfortably. It helps if its a little inspirational.
Children and adults work better if any space they are in is inviting and visually pleasing. Creative work can be done under the most sparse or even dingy conditions because the human spirit always shines through, but the more attractive the space is, the easier it is to work within it.
1. Form A Comfortable Space
A working space has to surround a child and be a great area to open up a mind and invite production, whether it’s simple study or projects. Temperature is key and that should suit an individual. Some people, no matter what their age, get cold easily, and conversely, hot very quickly. Windows should have shades or curtains in case the sun is beating in. The home school area should be quiet and free from cross traffic. A separate room is ideal. Don’t go to an extreme or your student will find themselves so relaxed that you’ll find them nodding off while studying!
2. Think Ergonomically
Any study area needs some sort of desk. Essentially the homeschooling desk needs to fit the child (in theory they are the ones spending most of the time sat at the desk) by meeting them at the waist. That way elbows can be rested on it and books studied or a computer used, at a good angle. Feet may rest flat on the floor for optimum comfort. Dangling feet means pins and needles after a while. A cushion can be used if a chair isn’t adjustable. Ideally there will be enough room at this desk to sit parent and child side by side; this will facilitate explanations. A computer’s monitor should be between 18″ and 30″ away from your child’s eyes and it should be even with their line of sight. An antiglare screen helps cut down on bothersome light from the monitor.
3. Light Your Space Well
Squinting promotes tiredness and a child with tired eyes will want to quit studying sooner rather than later. Low lighting means more distraction so make sure the area is covered by enough light, which can be adjusted to take in existing daylight. A desk lamp adds extra lighting where needed, or use adjustable overhead track lighting.
4. Give Them Room to Spread Out
There needs to be enough space to spread out and organize work. Computers should be movable so hard copies of information can be organized and thought about and read. Pen and paper and other manual, rather than electronic tools, should be used alongside of computers and other electronic devices. These use different areas of the brain and the brain needs to be exercised regularly.
5. Keep the Area Well Stocked with Supplies
Keep supplies handy and spares abundant. Running out of something in the middle of a study period or project, causes distractions and the child may not finish the study period. You should have several pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, and a calculator, ruler, compass and markers handy. Older students need a planner, calendar, and a to do list handy. All three of the latter can be on the computer in a program such as Outlook, or Calendar if you have a Mac.
6. Organize the Space
Use bright holders or themed ones (Disney if the child is into that, or dinosaurs or such) for supplies, like shelving, boxes, and then label them and use file folders for misc. paperwork. A cool organizer helps keep things handy on the desktop. Your child could personalize this with stickers and shapes.
7. Decorate the Space
Personal things and favorites help make a space personal, whether it’s for a child or an adult. Photos of pets and the family can be placed on the desk or wall, but don’t make the area jam packed with items or it will become distracting. Motivating items can be nearby — such as a sports trophy or birthday card or such. A small bulletin board on the wall over their desk works great as a tidy place for special items. A few cork floor tiles work wonders and can be removed easily if you use those removable attachment products.
8. Deleting Distractions During Study Periods
Make sure that your child, while studying, doesn’t have access to MP3 players, websites that aren’t within the realm of the subject being studied, TVs, radios and cell phones. Your child can wear headphones to block out external noise if he or she gets distracted easily.
A calming and creative homeschooling space needn’t be hard to make up. It can be inexpensive and bright. Let the kids help make their own space so they get a sense of “ownership”. The study space is best used if it’s kept for studying. At the weekend, it can be transformed into another area, but when Monday rolls around, to the “transformer” thing and change it back! Don’t forget short rest and food periods for your child during the day. They need fuel to recharge their thought processes.
This article was written by Lloyd Burrell. A home school office desk is one of the many types of desks that Lloyd enjoys writing detailed reviews on at his website OfficeDeskReviews.com.
Earnest Parenting: tips for parents who want to make great home study spaces.