It’s just another night at our house – racing from activity to activity, squeezing in dinner – and oh yeah Homework. We are fortunate that the twins don’t get homework in kindergarten but my older son has about 20-30 minutes of work to do each evening after school. Even that small amount seems like a huge burden to him so he has to roll around on the couch for about 20 minutes complaining about his homework before he can get started.
I was a big nerd when I was a kid (probably still am), but I enjoyed the idea of homework – organized by subject, neat color coded notes, creating flash cards etc. And don’t get me started on the school supplies – I still love the smell of crayons and am a sucker for fancy pens, newly sharpened pencils and notebooks with dividers. But, as much as I enjoyed the idea of homework, I would get so frustrated doing my homework. My mom insisted that I sit at the kitchen table so she could help me. I had to endure three younger siblings running around like crazy and the messy hecticness of the kitchen. All I wanted was a quiet place all my own to do my homework and hoard fancy erasers.
When my son entered first grade and we knew homework was coming I wanted to create a space for him where he could have privacy, but yet be near the rest of the family. Sending a 6 year old boy to a room filled with LEGO’s and Pokemon cards was not going to be productive. I wanted him to have a calm space dedicated just to work, where he could easily find everything he needed to complete his homework.
Our home has a very open layout so there aren’t a lot of quiet spaces – away from younger siblings and the tv. So, I decided that I would donate a corner of my office for his workspace. The room is now referred to as OUR office. Good thing this is temporary. Because this is a short term solution we did not want to invest much money in furniture so we took a trip to IKEA. We settled on a very simple desk with a single drawer – the MICKE – it was about $60 and has held up well over the past year. I bought a simple chair – he picked yellow just to clash with the light pink and aqua of my office!
On the rare occasion that he has large projects we work at the kitchen table – but that is normally a group effort anyway. So, all of the craftier supplies remain in the craft closet for now. But, he needs more than a number 2 pencil in his desk drawer. I was in my glory collecting school supplies and organizing the desk drawer. Here is what I stocked his drawers with:
Fine tip markers
We organized everything neatly in the drawers. He has easy access to everything he needs when he sits down to do his homework. I was searching for a small bin to hold his erasers when I saw the pink organizer at the back of the closet. It’s actually a container that his sisters Melissa and Doug Dress Up dolls came in (You know – those cute boxes the toys come in that are completely useless because they have no lid! – I always save them – we repurpose them for so many different things) I discovered the cute crayon box at target for less than a dollar – it holds up so much better than the original cardboard box. I love how we were able to fit everything neatly in the drawer using the divider. And he is the kind of kid who will keep everything in the right spot!
Because the desk is small it was important to me that the surface of the desk remain empty. He did build a really awesome dragon pencil holder out of legos – which now proudly lives on my shelf, holding extra crayons!
He loves that he has a work space that is all his own – and I think that it is a bit extra special because we share OUR office. On days when I know he is struggling I may stop what I’m doing in the kitchen and “work” in the office. He can easily find me for questions or stay motivated to complete his work because I’m kind of watching over his shoulder.
There is no way I can share my office with three kids so I have a much bigger idea for next year. My goal is to convert our playroom into a kids office with space for all three of them to do their homework. I figure by then all the toys they still play with can move to the basement. I have been dreaming about this space for a long time and I know what I want – I just have to figure out exactly how to make it happen.
Let me share my vision with you. I want to place three desks in the room, large enough for computers – we already have the outlets and network jacks in the room. I was serious when I said I’ve been planning this for a long time.! Each kid will have their own workspace with storage for their personal items. But, I also want large cabinets and shelves to store all the craft supplies, paper and non-fiction books. Hopefully there will also be space for a table for all the big projects. I guess it will come down to how much storage I put in the room versus work space. I can’t wait to start seriously designing this space but for now we are happy with our short term compromise.