With the new school year right around the corner, parents and families are studying up on how to make their child's education as fruitful as possible. But there's more to helping your child succeed at school than getting expensive supplies or helping them with their homework. Building a colorful, welcoming learning space for your child can assist and enrich their education, both in and out of the classroom.
Here are helpful tips for building a learning space for your child:
1. Find an area in your home that has good lighting
Before you begin planning your workspace, make sure that you find an area in your home that has good natural lighting, like something near a window. "Bright natural light from a window is great, overhead or task lighting, like a desk lamp, work too," according to Learning Liftoff. The main thing is that your student doesn't have to strain to see their work.
2. Select a desk, table or other sturdy object to serve as your workspace
Some spare space on a table or an unused desk is a great place to start. The key thing is that the workspace is a place that the child can return to regularly with those items and their own computer, and be a cozy place for them to learn. "If you have the space, a large table to spread out and work on projects or with multiple students is nice to have," writes Learning Liftoff.
3. Have seating that has strong support and is at the correct height
Bean bag chairs or recliners need not apply. You'll want a sturdy chair to help keep your children focused, but also one that will feel comfortable. "Remember that good sitting posture is important, so try to provide a chair with good support, at the correct height for students to work comfortably," according to Learning Liftoff.
4. Make sure the workspace is free of noise and distractions
Any toys, games or other items that might distract your child from their studies should be removed from the workspace. This is a place where you'll want your child to focus on education, not goofing off. You'll also want to consider if the location of the workspace itself will be free of noise or distraction before setting it up. Is the kitchen going to be a good place to have your child's workspace, or is there going to be a lot of noise and people walking around? Is the spare desk in the living room a good place to study, or will your child be distracted by family members watching TV? Keep these questions in mind when choosing your ideal location.
"Even something as simple as a rubber band can be a useful item in doing a particular type of lesson ... on the other hand, it could be something really distracting," Patrick Keeney, director, college and career programs, MPS product management at k12.com, told ABC. Items like smartphones and tablets can be useful to a child's education, but can quickly become distractions if not used correctly.
5. Teach your child to keep the workspace organized
Knowing where to put certain items and always making sure that the workspace is clean and organized is important to keeping an effective workspace for your child. Keenly said that students can keep their area organized with "just a little bit of a habit, where after a student is finished with whatever they're doing at their workspace, then having that personal practice and discipline to spend a minute or two minutes and just take care of whatever's going on in that space."
6. Keep the workspace free of clutter
It's easy for a child's workspace to get messy. Show your child the importance of throwing away trash or loose, unnecessary items. "If there's a loose piece of paper, if it's not going to be useful anymore, toss it, throw it in the garbage," Keeney said. "If you are going to find it to be useful at some point or you think it might be useful at some point, then have a specific place for it."
7. Have items in your workspace that emphasize art, music and other cultures
It could be something like a keychain from a trip to a new city or country, or even a globe. Also having items that emphasize art, music and other cultures is important for your child as well, things like musical instruments, small paintings, or even a foreign alphabet list or book. "Something as simple as a globe or a world map can become an important tool, not just because it might be in a lesson, but because it reminds a student of 'here's where we are, here's where we live, this is really our home,'" Keeney said.
8. Keep the workspace fun with educational games or activities
Not every item in your workspace has to be solidly dedicated to completing school assignments. You can also have games that will enrich a child's education and curiosity for learning.The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center suggests playing "turn-taking" games to help support students' social skills and for toddlers, playing games with stuffed animals, dolls or action figures.
9. Help your child make the workspace their own based on their interests
If your child is a big fan of a professional sports team, let them decorate their workspace with items of that team. If they're into ballet or rocketry, let them decorate their workspace with dance or rocket figurines. "Items and topics that students find interesting are topics that students will learn more about and that they will find connections between," Keeney said. "Any time a student can connect one of their interests to something that they're learning in class ... that gives them the opportunity to make a stronger connection and retain that knowledge much longer."
10. Have something to keep your child hydrated
Having a cup, glass or some type of container for a student to regularly drink water or other hydrating liquids from is an important component to a child's workspace and their education at large. "As little as a 1-2 percent dehydration is enough to significantly impair a student's thinking and their mood," Keeney said. "I think one of the most underrated parts of a student experience and a student workspace is the availability of water for them to be able to access."
11. Don't feel the need to fill up all the space
It may be your first instinct to fill up every possible inch on your child's workspace with educational items and tools, but it's important to keep a certain area of the workspace free and flexible. Especially as your child grows, they'll want to add items to that workspace down the line, so there's no need to fill up that space now.
"There's a tendency when working with students to want to control their educational experience as much as possible, to try to get them from point A to point B, and in many ways that's the opposite of flexibility," Keeney said. "Flexibility has to be built into the workspace environment and that flexibility certainly is facilitated by having space."