A homework station is a specific area in the home designated for kids to work on their homework. This space should be low on distractions and be provided with all the supplies they need to get their work done. The idea is that they’ll be able to concentrate better, and that will enable them to work better. It also teaches them to work without adults standing over their shoulder.
The big trick with this approach is: if they’re somewhat isolated, they’ll be tempted to claim they’ve finished their assignments when they really haven’t, so you’ll let them go play or watch TV or whatever. But they have to learn self-discipline at some point, so this is a good opportunity. You can inspect their homework every day for completeness if you’re really concerned, or you could do a surprise inspection every few days so they never know when it’s coming. Or if they’re doing well in school, you could just trust them and check up on them by asking what they’re learning in school these days every now and then. It’s not easy to fake an answer to that question on the fly if you’re really not paying attention to your schoolwork.
Homework station requirements
There are a few things your homework station will need:
- Make sure this station isn’t in an area where they can be distracted by the TV or by siblings playing, so they can stay focused.
- You may want to set up a dry erase board where your kids log in their homework every day and check off what they’ve gotten done. This teaches them the power of setting down tasks and completing them, and it lets you track their progress (don’t forget to make sure they’ve actually done the work before checking off tasks as “done”, if you’re tracking it.)
- Make sure the station is set up to encourage good posture. Whether you buy them a desk or give them a stool at the breakfast bar, don’t set them up to do their homework hunched over on the bed or on their stomachs on the floor.
That’s easy if you’ve got a big house with lots of unused space and all the money you need to buy a desk and chair or whatever. But what if, like many people, you have a small home and nowhere obvious to set up a homework station?
- Dining areas. You could set up a breakfast nook or dining area so that it’s a homework station at some times and an eating area at others. The homework supplies could all go in a box, for example, that gets put away at the end of homework time so people can use the table for other things the rest of the time.
- Compact desks. Tower desks can take up just a small corner in a child’s bedroom. There are a number of really affordable compact desk options available that will provide all the room your kid needs for his homework.
- Compromises. If your home is too small for the kids to work on homework without overhearing the TV or other siblings playing, for example, the rest of the family might have to compromise: listen to the TV more quietly, play more quietly, etc.
You may not be able to create the perfect homework environment, but that’s okay. Classrooms are full of distractions, too. Minimize them as best you can and that should be enough.