Creating a space for children to focus on academic work is good for students in public and private schools, as well as for children who are homeschooled. A dedicated space to work in helps children focus on their schoolwork and have a more productive study session.
Creating a homework centre can be as simple or complex as you and your child like. For any centre, it is important to remove items that might be a distraction before adding items for the child to use. Remove items that may divert the child’s attention from his or her homework such as a phone, television, radio, stereo, game console(s), and MP3 player. If a computer is present in the homework centre make sure parental supervision will be available, or parental controls enabled, in order to limit instant messaging, games, social media interaction, and other online distractions. Ideally, none of these distractions should be near the homework centre, so their use by other members of the family would not become disruptive.
Once the distractions have been removed it is time to begin adding items to help the child complete homework assignments and special projects.
Homework Center Staples
There are several items you will need to stock in your homework centre. These include blank paper, coloured pencils, construction paper, dictionary, folders, highlighters, level-appropriate calculator, math instruments, notebook paper, paperclips, pencils, pens, ruler, scissors, stapler with staples, tape, and thesaurus. If your child is studying a foreign language you should also include a dictionary in that language.
Sometimes class projects will require extra items. Stocking these in the homework centre can prevent parents from having to make last minute runs to the store. Items to include for projects include craft items such as feathers, buttons, beads, glitter, glue, magazines to use in collages, and poster board. Other items that may be useful include reference books such as an encyclopedia.
After all of the distractions have been removed and supplies have been gathered it is time to implement study time in the homework centre. As a teacher I often had parents come to me confused because their child insisted that he or she never had homework and yet the child’s grades were not satisfactory. A homework centre can help children create a routine that allows for consistent study time. Most nights a child should be doing some form of school work. If there is a specific place and, even better, a minimum of time that must be spent in that place the child will be more inclined to complete assignments.
For those nights when the child claims to have no homework have him or her to spend time reading and preparing for a book report or summarizing the chapter or topic being studied in school.
A quiet and dedicated study space allows students to focus on their work in an environment free from distraction. Having all, or at least most, of the tools your child will need to complete homework assignments reduces the time and frustration of having to find individual items. Finally, creating a routine that encourages study will reinforce in the child the importance of learning and give him or her a time each day to focus on intellectual growth.