Maximize Your Child’s Success with a Proper Workspace
Maximize your child’s success while attending school from home. Establish a dedicated workspace that is comfortable and fully equipped with school supplies to make learning efficient and fun.
Here are our top seven tips for creating the ideal student workspace at home:
Find an Ideal Location
Start by deciding which environment is most suitable for your child’s learning style. Students should have an assigned workspace, free from distractions and clutter.
Some children prefer to study in a quiet, private setting. In contrast, others prefer to be in a centrally located space like the dining room. If you have more than one child, using privacy screens can be a terrific way to have your kids together while maximizing their capacity to stay focused on their individual work.
Every child is different, so find the right area and tools that work for your child.
Build a Proper Foundation
Once you decide where you’re going to set up your child’s study space, start with a functional foundation. The workspace should include a suitable desk and chair with sufficient lighting.
Your child’s desk and chair should be the correct size and support their physical needs. Their feet should touch the floor when they’re seated. In addition, the desktop should be within a couple of inches of your child’s forearms when their elbows are bent to 90 degrees, so their arms can rest comfortably on the desk. Look for flexible options, like a standing desk or an adjustable chair to support proper ergonomics for your growing kids.
Good light is also critical. Position a desk lamp on the opposite side of the desk from your child’s writing hand. Doing so prevents the light from casting a shadow on their writing.
See our blog post, entitled Ergonomic Tips for Kids, for additional information.
Stock Your Child’s Workspace with School Supplies and More
Next, stock the study space with school supplies. Check out our top recommendations in our blog post, entitled Our Favorite School Supplies.
Engage your child in the process and let them help set up and decorate their space.
Make sure to categorize, containerize, and label their supplies, so they’re easy to identify and access.
Use Portable Storage
A dedicated space is terrific to help children separate work from play. However, spending an entire school day in the same spot can also be numbing. Instead, set up a portable storage case to enable your child to take their school essentials anywhere.
A wooden art supply box, shoebox, or even their backpack will do. Fill it with the following supplies: paper, pencils, pencil sharpener, pens, highlighters, markers, colored pencils, ruler, glue sticks, tape, scissors, stapler, paper clips, calculator, sticky notes, and any other supplies that your child uses frequently. Remember to keep a dictionary handy. Misunderstood words can be roadblocks to further learning.
Then, designate different workspaces for different classes. For example, math and science class occur at their desk, but art instruction takes place at the patio or kitchen table. With a portable office, all they need to do between classes is grab and go!
Minimize Distractions and Incorporate Sensory Strategies
Improve your child’s ability to stay focused by minimizing distractions and incorporating sensory strategies.
“Time robbers” sidetrack your child every time they are hungry, thirsty, or antsy. Reduce distractions by keeping some “time savers” handy. For example, if your child goes to the kitchen every 10 minutes, have them bring a water bottle or drink and snack to their workspace.
Children with low sitting tolerance may benefit from using active seating, such as ball chairs, inflatable wedges, or wobble discs. They can also use a foot fidget on the front two legs of their chair to help maintain focus or hand fidgets so long as they don’t become yet another distraction. Your child’s OT can help determine appropriate fidgets for use during the school day.
Incorporate Short “Brain Breaks”
Recognize your child’s need to move and allow breaks from sitting as needed. Short “brain breaks” can help students recharge and refocus on a task. A few options include doing ten jumping jacks or pushups or marching in place.
When it’s time for independent learning, incorporate movement using some of the following ideas:
- Have your child practice math facts while jumping on a trampoline.
- Have them recite the definition of each of their vocabulary words on a higher or lower step of the staircase.
- Create a treasure hunt with spelling words and have your child practice writing each word where they find it.
Make Time Visible in Your Child’s Workspace
Children, especially those with ADHD, often lack an internal sense of time and have short time horizons. They think in terms of either “now” or “not now” and “due” vs. “do.” As a result, these children tend to require numerous external cues to help them stay on task and be on time.
Place an analog clock at your child’s eye level in their workspace. Using analog clocks helps children understand the passage of time because they can see time moving, whereas digital clocks only show numbers changing.
Next, have your child estimate how long they think it will take to do various activities. They can shade the pie of time on a glass-faced clock with a dry erase marker. Or, they can place magnets or post-it flags on their start and estimated finish time. Again, this helps them see the sweep of time and works magic with increasing sustained attention, especially during schoolwork and homework!
Best wishes for a successful school year!
About Skills 4 Life:
Skills 4 Life offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to children from birth to high school. We help children master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success, & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding, & executive function coaching. We also work with children on the building blocks of writing, social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies, sensory integration, early intervention, & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to succeed in learning and life. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com. You also can contact our office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.