I set up this homework area about half way through last year for the kids. It has been a great success, helping to:

  • keep all the required items in one place
  • giving the kids somewhere to keep projects they are working on
  • provide a central place for the kids to work

Each child has a draw to put their things in and then we have shared items like pencils, scissors, glue, dictionaries etc. The “homework corner” is on a book shelf in our dining room. The 7 and 9 year old happily worked at the dining table, I think they liked being close to me and still part of what was going on. As I noted in my earlier post on homework – “Homework tips for parents” I liked the kids to have a designated area for homework.

The concept of a designated area for homework didn’t sit well with my eldest son. He would happily do his homework anywhere, at the dining table, in the study, in his room on the desk or the floor when his desk got to messy (see here for photographic evidence!) I would talk to him about keeping organised and working in one place, but he found my advice frustrating. It was a continuing discussion between us.

Then in September I came across this an article in the New York Times that changed my approach with him completely. Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits looks at the science behind studying habits and amongst other things found:

For instance, many study skills courses insist that students find a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library, to take their work. The research finds just the opposite. In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.

The whole article is worth a read if you have kids who are at the homework stage. (For the record, I am not pro homework in primary school, but it is part of the curriculum at my kids school from grade 3.) So since reading this I have stopped asking my son to work in the same place. I do however ask him to return his things to the homework corner so that they don’t get lost, trodden on or ripped up by the toddler. He was happy to do this last year, but starting secondary school this year, I imagine we will modify this approach again.

My second son however likes the stability of having “his spot” to do his homework, so from our family’s experience I think personality plays a large part in developing an effective homework routine. Allowing them to work in a way that they feel comfortable has given the best results.

Do you have set homework areas for your kids?

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12 comments...read them below or add one

  • Maxabella January 21, 2011 at 8:07 am

    We’re not quite there yet. As a working mum who often gets home around bedtime, I dread the homework! It’s the thing I worry the most about, to be honest. Giving my child the time to help them get the most out of it. And knowing that the precious hour I have with them of an evening is going to be spent doing their homework, not having a bit of free time together.

    Let’s face it, home work sux. Surely it’s not necessary in primary school anyway? I don’t understand why we take time out of our children’s childhood for this.

    Sigh.

    x

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2011 at 8:24 am

      The push to have homework earlier and earlier seems quite insane to me.

  • Rae January 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Eldest was in Year 9 last year and moving to Year 10 this year. With three much younger siblings (the next in age heading into Grade prep this year) and a not great attention span, I would always send her to her room, to her desk, to do her homework. I’ve often come home from work to find her at the dining table working away. I think she likes the people surrounding her, as your 7 & 9yos do. But that attention span makes me send her to her room so she can concentrate and actually finish faster than if she were at the table.

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

      You certainly have to tailor it for each child don’t you!

  • Christie January 22, 2011 at 12:40 am

    When I was teaching junior primary (grades 1-3), some of my colleagues found it strange that I would sometimes let certain students lie on their stomachs on the floor to complete tasks. These children were those who expelled so much energy trying to balance upright in a rigid chair at a rigid desk that their work suffered. Their ideas flowed much more freely when the were working on the floor. Unrelated maybe but your post reminded me of those children, especially as you wrote of your oldest son.

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

      I think kids need to be able to do things like lie on their stomach if it works for them. My eldest does lots of his homework like this!

  • shafeena January 23, 2011 at 9:11 am

    oh my gosh .. this is so true… i remember my sister used to like her spot, and i would finish my reading in the bathroom .. :D

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2011 at 8:27 am

      At least you did your reading!

  • Katie January 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    As a primary teacher, I would love to not give homework. It’s more work for me, creating and correcting it, then last year, only about 1/3 of my kids did it in any given week, with only a handful doing it regularly. I tried making them stay in to do it. I tried making them pick up rubbish if they didn’t hand it in. I tried giving housepoints to kids who did it. I just could not change those numbers.
    Admittedly, the bulk of the homework was not stuff that could be handed in (read, practice spelling/maths facts, do exercise, help with chores) but without the submitted tasks, I had no reason to believe that those were being done either.

    • PlanningQueen January 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for giving a teacher’s perspective. At our school they did a survey a couple of years ago on whether or not there should be homework. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it seemed like most parents were in favour of it :\ . I often think it must make so much unnecessary work for teachers.

      Nic

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