Right now, so many parents are trying to figure out how to set up a study space at home for the kids because hey! 2020!
Whether your kids are going to be doing distance learning with their school, or homeschooling — maybe for the first time — I can only assure you, this does not have to be yet another item on our ever-growing mental list of Parenting Stresses We Do Not Want To Be Dealing With Right Now Nosiree Bob.
A dedicated study space has real benefits
But it is good to recognize that creating a dedicated study space at home for your kids has a ton of benefits. In fact, I already did a ton of research about it last year (data nerd that I am) when I finally ditched our own kitchen table textbook-takeover and got my two daughters some teen-appropriate desks in their small shared room.
Giving kids their own study space helps kids actually focus better, keeps them organized (one less stress for us!), encourages independence, and even staves off arguments about space. Ask me how I know.
I’ve even read that it helps kids stay put longer, and with schoolwork on the line, clearly that’s a huge benefit.
Redecorating (just a little) gives kids something fun to look forward to
Letting kids set up a new study space might also be a welcome, exciting change during a time we’re all looking for those little wins for our kids. It gives them a chance to express their own style, and show off who they are, or how they changed and grew over the summer. And that’s not a small thing for kids.How cute is this yellow schoolbus desk I found!
That’s a statement, not a question because I know it’s cute.
If setting up a study space at home is on your to-do list, I’m really happy to share my favorite tips and expert advice, on behalf of our sponsor, Overstock. Yes, that Overstock!
Hey, why not save money while you’re shopping?
You may think of it as a place for decor or hugely discounted shoes (yay shoes!), but it’s actually an incredible shopping destination for all kinds of back-to-school needs. Especially these days, when I feel far more comfortable shopping for furniture or decor online whenever possible.
And uh, the whole “up to 70% off” thing is verrrry appealing right now.
I’m going to include a few favorite items for kids’ study spaces I found while browsing Overstock myself, just to make things a little easier for you. But be sure to poke around the site though; if some of my recos aren’t available there’s always something new popping up there.
With that, here are my top tips.
Be sure to shop Overstock now, during their Overstock End of Summer Super Sale through 8/24. You’ll get free shipping on everything, even furniture, and up to 70% off thousands of items.
Setting up a study space at home for your kids:
How to make it one your kids will love to use
1. Before you buy anything, list out your child’s academic needs
First of all, you want to make a list of what your kids really need in a study space, based on their grade level, their curriculum, and their school activities and expectations. If they’ll be doing distance learning or an at-home / in-school hybrid like millions of kids, check your school’s curriculum so you can get a sense of their academic load. (Homeschoolers, you’re in control here.)
This will help you figure out what kind of desk, chair, storage, and other accessories you need. And so much of it depends on their age.For younger students, a classic kids play table might be a smart, affordable solution and I love the quality of everything from KidKraft.
For kids with more intensive online needs, a solid computer desk (there are lots to choose from) that accounts for keyboards, wires, and other gadgets is a big help. But uh, they probably won’t want the vase of orchids on theirs.
Will your child be coding, designing, or editing so that a larger monitor is preferable to a laptop? Is a printer something they use? Will they be practicing handwriting on actual paper? Printing out worksheets? Getting creative with construction paper and craft supplies? Sitting back and listening to story time? Using scientific calculators, compasses, and other devices for advanced learning? Reading a ton of actual books — or using e-readers?
And how about all those classroom or extra-curricular Zoom calls that require a little privacy?
(Hey, you may not want to hear them either, parents!)
If you first establish what kids need their at-home study space for, it helps you narrow down your choices and makes the entire searching process so much easier.
(It also ensures that they’ll have what they need so they’re not all up in your space, borrowing your stuff…or back at the kitchen table.)
2. Think of small spaces as a chance to get creative.
I love this fold-up, wall-mounted laptop desk at Overstock for small spaces! Perfect for a laptop a few supplies, and knick-hacks. And if you have teens, a big iced coffee cup ha.
Consider an adjustable roll-away laptop stand, eliminating the need for a larger desk. Smart solution for smaller spaces! It may also give kids the flexibility to move rooms if they need.
Living in an urban apartment, we don’t have a spare room or basement we can convert into a child’s work area. If you do, more power to you! So many terrific options are open to you.
But if you have limited space — like really limited space — you’d be amazed with all the creative ways to help create functional work spaces in a smaller home. And keep in mind, kids really don’t need massive spaces to get work done. In fact, a smaller space may help them wrangle the clutter better to stay organized. And hey, they still have the kitchen table for art projects or science experiments. It’s not like they’re limited to their desks all day long.
A few items to look into when limited space is a consideration:
– wall-mounted desks or floating desks that don’t take up floor space. Some even fold up at the end of the day
– a small corner desk like this on that can make use of an unused corner of a room
– a separate rolling laptop stand to make more room on a smaller desk.
– a dual desk that seats two kids (lots of kids share tables or desks in classroom settings)
– a desk with built-in storage like file cases or drawers
– trade in your child’s bed for a loft bed with desk underneath
– an ergonomic laptop stand to raise the laptop off a desk, plus a Bluetooth keyboard instead of a larger laptop or computer
– shelving that makes full use of the height of your walls, like a stack of mounted wall shelves instead of a bookshelf on the floor.
– mounted cubbies instead of shelves, to give kids even more room for books and device storage without taking up valuable floor space.
– a sliding curtain or folding screen to create the illusion of a separate room when one isn’t available.
3. Think comfort when it comes to desk chairs — physically and mentally
Comfort is no small consideration when it comes to kids and their study spaces, especially if they’re expected to sit at their desk for longer hours than they had previously when they might have just been doing some homework there each night for a few hours.
The good thing is, you have so many options that are probably even more comfortable and ergonomic than whatever they’re using in a classroom.
First, be sure to consider the relationship of the desk to the chair. Apartment Therapy has a helpful article about finding the ideal height of a chair for the desk you have. When seated, their knees should be at a 90-degree angle to the ground but still fit under the desktop comfortably.
Then, consider what your child actually wants.
This ergonomic desk chair isn’t too big for older kids, and the price is terrific
My oldest daughter made a really big deal about wanting “a spinny chair” for some reason, and it’s something that makes her feel more comfortable. For a teen like her, you can invest in a higher end ergonomic desk chair — this one from Overstock is a huge bargain! And it just looks so grownup.
However if you have a child who’s prone to fidgeting, you’ll probably be better off with a chair planted firmly on the ground will help them focus — and also be good if they’ve got a screen full of classmates watching them.
This student desk chair on wheels comes in three fun, bright colors kids will love — and it’s adjustable so it grows with them.
But remember, comfort isn’t just about ergonomics and proper posture. It’s also about what makes a child feel comfortable mentally. So you want to be sure they have the kind of chair that they’re excited to sit in every day, whether it’s in their favorite color, upholstered in a fun fabric, or they get to cover it with stickers (I know, deep breaths).
4. Don’t make good lighting an afterthought!
We know that kids shouldn’t be reading in dim light. But there’s more to a desk lamp than that. If your child doesn’t have a ton of natural light in their desk area — or mayyyy be studying after daylight hours — you’ll definitely need a decent light, to keep kids’ eyes from getting tired.
Think about the shape of light that the lamp emits; a long, horizontal LED light will cast light across a larger space than a classic desk lamp with a standard bulb that emits more of a “spotlight” on a single area. Also, LED bulbs last longer and save energy.
You also want to think about how much desk space you’re taking up — in smaller spaces, consider a clip-on lamp, a wall mounted lamp, or hang a pendant lamp overhead from the ceiling.
And then there’s the light itself. One study indicates that cool light is more conducive to studying than warmer light. Who knew! With that in mind, one lamp at Overstock in particular caught my eye: A multi-setting USB-powered LED desk lamp designed to reduce eye strain and glare!
Pro parenting tip: Since kids participating in distance learning may be Zooming all day, maybe get your older kiddo a flattering ring light in addition to a good study lamp. They’ll appreciate it for sure.
5. Style is everything when you’re a kid. Shop accordingly.
Overstock has a huge collection of wall art (news to me!) from inspirational quotes to minimalist TV and movie artwork like this one featuring the Stranger Things cast.
A display of personal style in a study space is easily the most important factor of all — at least to your kids. So let them decorate their space with Funko POP! figures, posters, twinkle lights, a bulletin board covered with photos of friends, a Stephen Universe poster, sports awards, Playbills, inspirational quotes, movie artwork, a giant map of the world…whatever makes them happy.
Really! Try to say yes here more than you say no. A cool pencil holder? Yes! A funky braided USB cable? Great!
More than a desk, more than a chair, decor and individual style is what helps kids feel like a space is “their own” — especially if they don’t have a new locker to decorate this year (sniff) — and can keep them happier, longer, and more inclined to spend time in their study space.
Also remember, there’s a social-emotional aspect to a kid’s decor as well. It says something about them. The space behind them will be visible in every Zoom call or video interaction, to every teacher, every kid in a distance-learning class, and kids are hyper-aware of this, just the same as we are.
Not that there’s yet a Room Rater twitter account for kids’ rooms. Yet.
Don’t miss the Overstock End of Summer Super Sale, now through August 24th, with free shipping on everything, and up to 70% off thousands of items, no coupons needed.
Thanks so much to our sponsor for making it easier and more affordable for parents to get back-to-school ready this year, whatever that looks like for you!
Top photo Patricia Prudente on Unsplash