Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Homework Helper: Creating a Productive Space

Should my child do homework seated at a desk or table? This is a question many parents ask. My siblings and I all gathered around our big rectangular dining room table to do our homework. Throughout the week, the dining room table stayed cluttered with our scattered papers, books, and writing utensils. Our house looked "lived in" as my mother used to say. And we were not allowed to do our homework while watching television. In fact, we had to complete our homework before we watched television or played outside 

When my children were old enough to go to school, I bought them desks for their bedrooms. I wanted
to make sure they had a "proper" homework space without distractions--something I had desired as a child. They began their homework seated at their desks. But eventually, one would end up doing his homework stretched across his bed while the other would end up doing her homework stretched out on the floor of her bedroom. When I peeked into their rooms, I would tell them to sit at their desks. (After all, that’s what their desks were for. Right?) They would groan and comply--for a few minutes. Then they would drift back to their comfortable and productive homework spaces. I finally realized that doing homework in a space other than seated at a desk is alright. They always earned high grades, so I let them be. I learned to accept that their desks would be part of the d├ęcor in their bedrooms, not a functional piece of furniture. They were productive, and that’s what mattered.

By the way, did you know some people concentrate better when they have background noise? Is that your child? If so, classical music or white noise (available on CDs and phone apps) might help your child’s productivity. I work better when I’m enveloped in silence. Even when I grade papers, I must not have distractions, not even soft music. But that's me. It's beneficial for you to learn what your child needs to be productive.

I kept my parents’ rule of no television while reading, writing, and studying. However, when my children had to do creative projects, I allowed them to sprawl out in front of the television after they had completed the planning and organization stages of their projects.

Here are some tips for making your child's homework space productive:
  • strong lighting
  • an easily accessible supply box filled with items they may need:
    • paper, lined and unlined
    • folders
    • clip board
    • pencils (regular and colored)
    • markers
    • pencil sharpener (or lead for mechanical pencils)
    • pens
    • erasers and white out
    • paper clips and stapler
    • book marks
  • an easily accessible craft box filled with items they may need for creative projects:
    • construction paper
    • poster boards
    • fabric, yarn, and string
    • tape
    • glue
    • glitter
    • beads
    • scrapbook paper and embellishments
    • picturesque magazines such as National Geographic
    • old newspapers (for paper mache projects)
    • washable paints

Don't forget to have on hand extra quantities of the items on your child’s school supply list. When I used to be a substitute teacher, I saw many students writing with pencils so tiny they could hardly manage. It was downright awkward for them. Your child may forget to tell you when their supplies run out in school. Ask them periodically if they need more supplies.

Peek in on your child from time-to-time. Encourage him or her to take frequent breaks. Did you know that sitting too long can be deadly? 

                          Ted-Ed, March 5, 2015

What homework memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.

The Memory Keepers' Daughter,


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