What is the best place to do homework for an elementary school student?

A desk in a bedroom?  The kitchen table?  The public library?  Is there a best place for little kids to do homework?

boy reading

A child’s bedroom offers privacy away from house noise. On the bed, on the floor, at a desk—the child has options for posture.  For a self-sufficient and focused child, a bedroom can be great.  But for a daydreamer or a procrastinator, a bedroom can be disastrous.  Also, bedrooms are usually upstairs or down the hall from the refrigerator.  And Mom or Dad are in another part of the house, making it difficult to consult with them.  Kids like to hang around the family in the evening.

The kitchen table or counter offers little privacy and is busy—the dishwasher chugging, someone cooking, and the family crisscrossing the room.  For a child sensitive to noise, the kitchen table is not ideal.   But for a child who needs someone prodding him to continue his work, it can be ideal if noise and distractions are limited.

The family room couch and coffee table can be great.  They offer a comfy seat and various postures.  They  are near the kitchen.  But what if Dad wants to watch the TV news at 6:30?  Or the baby or dog is crawling around?  The rest of the family has to respect the student’s need for quiet.

Girl reading Junie B. Jones.

The floor can be a great homework area, especially if the child has a mat designated for homework.  Roll it out in any part of the house, and the child can sprawl and relax her body.  But again, the rest of the family needs to respect the student’s need to focus without noise.

Public libraries are generally not good for young children unless they need to work on a group project.  Then some libraries have private conference rooms where children can talk, exchange ideas and work together, providing an adult reserves and is responsible for the room.  Transportation can be a problem for some students.  If a student does not own a computer, and if he needs to do internet research, a library can be a great place to work.  Reference materials abound.  But usually an adult needs to reserve a computer, and transportation can be an issue.  Some libraries are not open evenings.

The best place to do homework depends on a number of factors—the student’s personality and study skills, noise levels, hunger, interruptions, time of day, transportation—so there is no perfect spot.

I did homework at the dining room table surrounded by my brothers and sisters while another one practiced the piano in the next room.  The older children acted as experts to the younger children, and our mother looked over our shoulders frequently.  Ideal?  Maybe not, but it worked.

Let your child try many different places.  After each one, ask him to consider why it worked or not.  The more the child knows about his learning style, the more he can determine what kind of environment works best for doing homework.

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