Back to School: Setting up and Organizing a Study Space

Setting up and organizing a study space


Back-to-school success depends on a great home study space for your kiddos. With the best intention, families add a desk to their kids’ bedrooms for studying and homework. Adding a desk to their rooms might be the answer to students’ productivity, however, there are other options for families to consider. Here are some setups and strategies for back-to-school homework study spaces.

Prime real estate for studying

Decide on what space works best for you and your student. When we were in college, almost never did we get work done in our dorm room. We went to the library for quiet and desk space. Choose a location where your student can avoid distractions. Many students do best in the dining room. It is an uncluttered space with a big table. You can view how homework is progressing and also step in if help is needed.

Add interest by creating multiple locations for study. Your student could work in the family room, outside under a tree, or at the coffee shop nearby.  Each location gives your student the opportunity for tweaking what works best given the seating, internet access, and focus.


Dig in on details of ergonomics and lighting

Keep in mind that a good environment extends beyond location. A desk or table conveys that work is being done and keeps your student at work. Your student might like a standing desk or rolling table top. A chair that supports your student’s posture and good lighting are important parts of your study space. Some students prefer “spinning” chairs or yoga balls that help keep their interest while studying. Portable, battery-operated lamps can be added to any space to add light. Sit with your student as they begin their homework to experience the environment.


Consolidate resources and supplies

There’s stock and back stock. Elementary school and middle school students need supplies to complete their assignments. Take stock of what you have for school supplies and create a caddy or cart that can travel with them to that study space. They will likely need a supply of writing utensils, paper, scissors, and a stapler. You can organize this in plastic boxes and a plastic caddy. Stock your student’s backpack with a zipper case with what is needed at school.

Keep restocking supplies in your home office in well-labeled containers. Categorize the items by a group so you know what you have and where you are storing it.


What else might be helpful?

  • Cute counts! Add some splash to this spot with fun wall art. An inviting workspace adds fun to after-school assignments.
  • A dry-erase board in the study area helps as a visual reminder of due dates. It can also be used for processing and breaking projects into manageable pieces.
  • Remember to add storage for completed projects and papers. A display spot for art or a shelf for projects celebrates the success of a project in the short term. Create an archive spot for these with a file box for that year. Many families photograph the artwork and create digital photo albums each year.
  • There is always trash with your students whether it is empty drink bottles or crumpled papers. Consider adding a trash can to the area that is big enough for a week’s worth of trash.


Engage your student in the process of designing study spaces. This means that they have buy-in and will love the finished space.

6 replies
  1. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    Having a workspace the kiddos can focus in is essential. I love how you suggested various alternatives to the typical desk in the bedroom setup. Not all kids want to sit at a desk or be in their bedroom. As you pointed out, some students prefer to be in open spaces at large work surfaces like a dining room or kitchen table.

    Being able to have ‘movable’ school supplies is also essential. The caddy or cart suggestions are great!

  2. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    The kitchen was a popular study space when the children were little, and they migrated to quieter spaces as they got older.

    I love the idea of having multiple spaces, especially for different types of tasks. Moving around feels good, and your mind sort of gets ready for a particular type of focus when in that spot.

    Ergonomics do matter. I have a desk in my kitchen, but when I sit there, it is too low for comfortable working on my computer. I prefer to do computer work at a desk in my living room. There is no center drawer, so that work surface can be lower.

  3. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    You thought of everything, Ellen! I especially like the alternative ideas, like using a yoga ball for a desk chair or a standing desk instead of something fixed. Good lighting is also so important, which you suggested too.

    Such a timely post as kids are either heading or already have gone back to school. I can’t believe how fast the summer went.

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