27 Aug 2018 Kids Space: A place to learn, build and create
by Donna Benton
When I think back about my own homework experiences (after the dizziness and heart palpations subside), I have recollections of spiral notebooks and No. 2 pencils spread across the dining table, Mom clanging some pots in the kitchen and Dad rushing in from work and chatting about how hot it was. My brothers were usually on the couch with the TV cranking.
I’m not sure why they never had homework. I might have been looking pretty studious there at the dining table, but I was probably just trying to look busy enough so I didn’t have to empty the dishwasher. I have fond memories of the family time, but undoubtedly, it was not the most productive environment for soaking up some science.
Our kids today are way smarter than we were. You know it’s true! Some may say that it is because of advancements in education. Others may give credit to the wealth of accessible information on the World Wide Web. Perhaps it has a little bit to do with the rise in popularity of the study space. You know, the “home office” for the kids. It’s a place where they can get away from all the distractions of the home and concentrate on the distractions of their smartphone, and perhaps, do a little studying. I have created these spaces for my own kids and helped a few clients with them, and here are a few tips that might give you some inspiration for a study space in your home.
First, choose a space that is out of the way, but not too far out of the way. It needs to be away from the household hubbub so the kids can immerse themselves in a project or their studies without interruption, but not so private that it would promote napping or delving deeply into the dark web.
Upstairs landings or other common areas make great spots for a study space. I have seen some great playroom conversions after the kiddos start to outgrow the Legos and dollhouses.
Next, collaborate with the kids on design and give them ownership of the area. They are likely to use the space much more if they feel that connection to it. And, that’s the goal here; to get them to use the space (a lot) for its intended purpose. Whether they are a budding ballerina or an aspiring pro squirrel hunter (or both), help them create a space that is an expression of themselves and it will become an after-school destination. The internet is full of great ideas to get you started. You will be amazed at what you will find if you google “ballerina squirrel hunter study space.”
Keep it neat and organized to cut down on the distractions. A great study space has well-planned storage, but only stow study gear and supplies that you need in the space. A comfortable chair is important for those marathon cram sessions. A nice desk chair is a good investment.
A great desk is good for crunching numbers, but don’t forget about a cozy place to curl up for a little reading. An oversized upholstered chair with an ottoman, a beanbag or a pile of giant pillows are top choices. I always seemed to be able to comprehend better with my feet propped up.
When summer finally comes around, it doesn’t mean that the study area should collect dust until fall. Pack up those notebooks, calculators and anything that even remotely brings back a memory of school and turn the kids’ study area into their very own makerspace. Whether their thing is writing, art, electronics or collecting bugs to baseball cards, give them a workspace where they can think, explore and create. Make sure they have a work surface and the tools and supplies they need to do what they love. Give them a dedicated place to spread out a multi-day project and leave it there.
For my boys, I always made sure their workspace had a fire extinguisher nearby. I’m not kidding! If you have a young artist, create a gallery using hanging clips, clipboards or frames where they can display their latest works and change them out whenever they want to. Whatever their passion, a study space/makerspace will nurture and inspire their creativity.
Donna Benton is a maker of custom home furnishings and specializes in classic painted finishes for antique and vintage furniture. You can see her work at WaterHouseMarket.com.