It’s a new school year – which makes it the perfect time to set up an organised and inspiring space for the kids to do their homework…

Arranging the basics – First up, you need to find a functional desk. Look for one that has built-in storage for stationery and other essentials. A desk with a few drawers is ideal. As for the chair, look for one that will encourage a healthy posture and help your child work comfortably. It needs to be height-adjustable too, so it can ‘grow’ with your child. Task lighting is important to help avoid eye strain. Opt for an adjustable light (either wall-mounted or freestanding) that can be aimed directly onto work. A clock or quirky timer will also help your child to manage his or her tasks better.

So many homework stations face a wall or get tucked into an uninspiring corner. Yes, place them in a quiet spot away from the TV and other distractions, but consider setting up near a window. The natural light that floods in will illuminate your child’s work and make doing homework a bit more enjoyable. As for the colour scheme, stick to a simple one (too much colour can be distracting and affect concentration). You can always add pops of colour with stationery, wall displays, desk lamps and such.

Storage solutions – ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ is what you’re aiming for here. Scale storage to the size of the desk and pare down essentials to what you really need. Use kitchen cutlery trays in drawers to sort pens, pencils, scissors, staplers and the like, and let open shelving house textbooks, files, folders and binders.

If you don’t have enough drawer space, think clever containers (glass jars, tins, boxes, baskets with chalkboard tags etc.)

A lazy Susan with a few pencil- and crayon-filled glass jars on top can become the perfect desktop ‘supply turntable’ with everything within arm’s reach. Have an ‘inbox’ tray for unfinished and pending work, as well as an ‘outbox’ for completed work, permission slips and other correspondence that needs to be checked and signed by you.

Empty cereal boxes can be turned into handy holders for desks. The larger ones are ideal for workbooks while the smaller ones are great for stationery. Cut the boxes with a craft knife to the desired angle and height, and then wrap them with colourful paper using double-sided tape. You don’t have to break the bank here – the cost of schooling nowadays is enough as it is!

On the wall – The wall space above your child’s desk is where you can really get organised. From framed corkboards and chalkboards, to fabric-covered noticeboards and a row of colourful clipboards, there are a multitude of things you can hang to hold assignments, activity reminders, to-do lists and exam timetables. Also think industrial-type adjustable shelving or a painted pegboard with hooks for things like headphones. You can even hang a towel rail above the desk and slide on a few small plastic or tin buckets to hold stationery. While you need some kind of calendar and schedule, don’t forget to also set aside room to display some of your child’s artwork, awards and a motivational quote or two, so this space isn’t all about deadlines but also goals and achievements.

For homework on the move – If you don’t have a designated homework desk and the kitchen counter, dining-room table or patio table all take turns respectively, try converting an old or unused butchers block or drinks trolley into a homework station, complete with baskets and bins for stationery and books. Simply roll it to wherever it’s needed and slot it back into a cupboard or under a counter when you’re not using it.

Doubling up – Where bedroom space is limited, consider creating a ‘shared’ homework area for two or more kids in a living room or family room. Give each child their own storage area and allocate enough desk space so they can work side by side without bumping elbows. Encourage the kids to personalise their spaces by hanging artwork or using colourful lettering to spell out their names.

Got a great homework area you’d like to share with us? We’d love to see it…

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