Setting up a Homework Area

No Matter How Much Space You Have

Boy doing his homework at a desk in his room
Elisabeth Schmitt / Getty Images

If you have a lot of space in your home, you can be very flexible in how you set up a homework area. A separate room has its benefits for organization and study.

An Entire Room

Designate a room or a large section of a room for your children’s homework. Furnish the room with tables and chairs or appropriately sized desks. Include organized bookshelves with encyclopedias, dictionaries, a thesaurus, or other appropriate books. Include storage containers with school supplies stored in them for projects, etc.

Items to Consider Adding

  • A desk or table and chairs
  • A computer
  • Reference books
  • A comfortable place for reading
  • A large calendar to write assignment dates, tests, etc.
  • Bookshelves
  • Glue
  • Scissors safety or sharp
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Pens and pencils
  • Graphing paper, construction paper, ruled paper, handwriting tablets
  • A filing cabinet for student papers, tests, etc.

Benefits of a Separate Room

Having a separate room allows you the ability to have great storage for school supplies, books, projects and all other school-related items. You will be able to set up the room to remove distractions that might hinder studying and homework time. Having a room devoted to schoolwork also allows you virtually limitless options on things you can include.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Sometimes more space seems like a big advantage, but it does have its drawbacks. Children will still need supervision while studying and completing homework assignments. If you have a separate room devoted to studying, you might schedule an activity for yourself that can be done during this time. Balancing checkbooks, updating calendars, planning meals, reading, etc. can all be done in this same room while leaving you available to supervise, answer questions, and make sure your students stay on track.


If you choose to have a computer in a separate room that is accessible by your children there are some warnings to consider if you choose to have internet access available to them. With all of the dangers of what and who your child can come into contact with on the internet many parents are becoming increasingly cautious about filters, blockers, time limits, and other parental controls. One way to help avoid these problems is to have computers with internet connections in central locations in your home, and not tucked away behind doors.

If You Have a Little Space

A little space can go a long way. You may not be able to dedicate an entire room, or even most of a room to a study area for your children. You can, however, add a few features to an existing room, making it a great place to study and do homework. One of the best places to set up a homework area is in a dining room or eating nook. Children are able to work on homework in an inviting area without needing additional tables or chairs added to the home. Young elementary age children may need to use a booster to be at the proper height for writing. A small organized bookshelf can be added to the eating area to hold books and school supplies. Or existing cabinetry can store these same items. This same concept can be used in other rooms of the home. By adding just a few elements you can convert a section of the room into a study area for your family.

Items to Consider Adding

  • A Bookshelf
  • A portable file unit or accordion file
  • Books
  • Schools supplies in plastic buckets with lids
  • A small day planner or calendar or a binder calendar system

Benefits of Some Space
Having just enough space means that you’ll be able to have the things your child needs to study, without having an excess of items that really aren’t needed. If your Homework area is in family common areas, you will probably be able to give the necessary supervision while still performing other duties in the home. With good organization, even a small amount of space can serve a family well.

Pitfalls to Avoid
Depending on where you have set up your study area, you may still have to address some of the concerns of people who have a lot of space, or no space. Make sure that if you are setting up an area in a place in your home that is secluded, i.e. A bedroom, separate office, etc. that you realize that students will still need supervision. If you decide to include a computer connected to the internet in a separate part of your home, be aware of the need for internet safety and education for your children. If instead, your section for studying is going to be in common areas of your home, it will be necessary to limit distractions during homework and study time. Make your home a T.V. and stereo free zone during homework time.

People with No Space

Okay, setting up a study area is great, but you barely have room to sleep, eat, and relax. If you’ve already gotten everything possible out of your home and it is still crammed full, it's time to think about a portable study area. Consider using a wheeled housekeeping cart that can hold and sort supplies, and even books. Lap desks can be stored also, but keep in mind that elementary children are still developing writing skills and lap desks may not be conducive to proper techniques for small children.

Items to include

  • A Portable Cart or section of a bookshelf
  • Lapdesks
  • A few necessary reference books
  • School supplies
  • A portable file cabinet or accordion file

Benefits of No Space

There probably won’t be many problems with keeping an eye on students completing homework. While you may feel cramped in a small space, it also creates comfort for students who may need assistance. Organization becomes a necessity when space is at a premium. Teaching your children to keep items well organized not only maximizes their present space but gives them valuable lessons that will aid them in life. Portability can quickly transform any space into a great study area.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Be careful to avoid uncomfortable reading and writing surfaces. Even if space is very hard to come by, children need a place where they can comfortably complete assignments. Without a lot of space, disorganization can become a problem quickly. Make sure you find proper storage and teach your kids how to use it. Be sure to avoid distractions from television, radio, conversation, etc. Homework time needs to be an important time where the entire family is supportive about accomplishing assignments.

Utilizing whatever resources your family has, you can add a few items to your home, reorganize them, and create a great space for your children to learn and succeed.