Homework Area

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?