How many times have you found your child laying in their bed covered by blankets with their books and laptop buried underneath? This may feel comfortable for them, but unfortunately it is not a productive way to get their work done. Contrary to what they may think, it will actually take them much longer to get anything accomplished with less effort being shown in their work. Having a designated physical work space is important for your child to effectively maximize their productivity and achieve academic success. It will help them feel more in control, focused, and motivated. And, with students facing some unique environmental learning challenges this fall through in-person, remote, and hybrid models, creating an effective workspace has never been so important.
While a conducive work environment for students is a good idea at any point in the school year, setting it up at the onset will save a lot of time (and maybe some tears) as the year unfolds. Here are some tips to get started.
- Choose the ideal location: This area should be a place with lots of surface space so there is room for the student to spread out their books, computer, and other supplies. It should, if possible, be dedicated to school and homework (unlike the kitchen table, which will likely need to be cleared off each evening). It should also be an area with limited distractions. For younger students, pick an area that is ideally more centrally located so help is easily accessible. Don’t forget the little things like an outlet for the computer, a garbage can, and decent lighting for those late nights!
- Have supplies at hand: Keep pencils, pens, printer ink, paper, index cards, notebooks, calculator, and whatever else they may need in drawers or bins nearby. When it is all right there, it saves time and reduces frustration. (Who hasn’t spent 20 minutes walking around the house looking for a calculator and getting the whole family involved in the search party?) If there is not room for it all, create a caddy that has everyday supplies and can easily be transported.
- Get organized: Whether you use a wall calendar, desk calendar, or planner, write down important dates and deadlines. Put up a magnetic board to hang up papers or visual reminders your child may need. Coloring coding each subject on calendars and folders can create helpful visual prompts. Create an “inbox” and an “outbox” so homework, permission slips, and notes are not lost.
- Have “go-to” spots: If certain areas are dedicated for specific items, they will never be lost or misplaced. For example, the laptop or tablet should get charged in the same place every night so in the morning it is accessible and fully ready to go. Backpacks get placed in their designated spot with the necessary books and binders already packed up. Files, folders, and other work that stays at home has a place for it so your child is not searching the house or leaving it elsewhere. Once these spots are set up, it is easy to reinforce them as they become part of their daily routine creating healthy habits.
- Create environmental supports: As you set up your child’s workspace, think about unconventional items that will help them stay on track. Put a clock or timer nearby so that they can stick to their time management plan. Make a list of teacher contact information so they can easily reach out with questions. Avoid forgetting important items by hanging a list of supplies they should pack right by their work space.
- Encourage personalization: Help your child make their workspace truly theirs and a place where they look forward to spending time. Let them have fun with it: decorate it with inspirational quotes, their own artwork or awards, or a cool poster that gives them a positive mindset to get working!
Spending a little extra time in the beginning of the school year to create a space that is individualized for your child will greatly increase their success, motivation, and confidence all year long. For more help with organizing a physical work space, contact an executive functioning coach at Private Prep.