BY COURTNEY GAULT, FOUNDER OF GREENWICH PLAY
When families come to us, they are usually looking for guidance on creating purposeful playrooms at home. But lately, we have been receiving more requests for purposeful workspaces, too. At some point over the last two years, I would bet many of you reading this spent some amount of time rearranging your own personal home office areas in order to reach an optimum level of performance. You may have even gone ahead and tackled your kitchen and pantry with the intent to make more meals. Our environment directly impacts our performance. It can have an effect on our behavior, our level of focus, even our anxiety.
With children once again learning at home, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the topic of at-home workspaces for children. What should you really focus on in order to achieve a properly conceptualized space for learning (and maybe even a little fun)?
Start by asking yourself a few basic questions:
- Does their space engage them in a way that supports their development?
- Are there any obvious distractions?
- Is the chair they’re sitting on the right size?
- Is there good lighting (natural light is even better)?
- Are there items around them that inspire and bring joy?
You can indirectly improve your child’s performance by simply giving them a purposeful space to succeed. Here are three easy tips to move you closer to a space where your child can reach an optimal level of performance (in a healthy way).
Choose a space that not only works for your child, but everyone else that will be home. That space can be at the dining room table, or in their bedroom, as long as they can be productive (and so can you!).
Some families need to be flexible with their workspace in order to accommodate other people in the house. One way to achieve this is to use a rolling cart with drawers to keep your child’s work and materials organized, but also mobile.
If your children share a workspace and have a hard time focusing on work and not play when together, positioning them so they can’t make eye contact is key. Additionally, sleep experts recommend keeping rest and work as far apart as possible, so ideally your child would not be able to physically see their bed from where they are working.
This is not a space for your child’s nail polish collection, or every piece of pottery they ever created. So what should your child have on hand? Whatever they are working on at the time, and the materials and tools needed to complete the task. Any unrelated materials need to be put back before beginning so they don’t become distractions later on. When it comes to things they absolutely do need, like writing utensils, keep the options minimal. There is no need for fifteen different pencil choices.
Anything that doesn’t serve a purpose is ultimately a distraction.
3. Pops of Play
Your child is not wired to sit for extended periods of time and focus on one thing after another. Classrooms are designed so that children have to get up and move around. Do the same at home by encouraging your child to take a break. Display items that make them pause, breathe, or step away from what they’re doing for a moment, it helps foster perspective. For example, a little basketball hoop, a fidget toy, a picture of friends, brainteasers, a family photo, a stress ball, a coloring book – having one or two of these items available to your child during their work periods can improve focus and overall performance.
When organizing a space for their students, a teacher’s primary goals are:
- Reduce unwanted and disruptive behaviors
- Improve learning outcomes,
- Promote on-task engagement
This can also be achieved at home. Whether your child is in kindergarten or fifth grade, creating a purposeful learning environment at home can be the difference between a miserable day, and a sort of ok one (heck, maybe even a good one). For everyone!
greenwich play – founded by early-childhood educator and interior designer Courtney Gault – provides early-childhood focused interior design services to parents looking to incorporate style, function and fun into family friendly homes. Through local and remote services, greenwich play conceptualizes playrooms that promote imagination, independence, and confidence in children, while incorporating clients’ unique styles and vision into the overall design. Courtney has a dual master’s of science in early childhood general and special education, as well as a master’s of art. When she’s not helping other families, you can find her around Greenwich with her two little boys and two crazy dogs.