Last November, we bought new dining room chairs and unintentionally ordered two desks for the boys. Since we never confirmed the order, the House of Values has graciously been storing them until we are ready for desks. Our boys share a bedroom and desks require that we re-bunk their beds. For a host of reasons (accidents, night terrors, laziness), we hadn't rebunked.
They're both going to have homework this year. It's not clear that either of them have the discipline yet to sit at their own desk and focus on their homework without parental/au pair supervision. After polling teachers, psychologists and other parents, we concluded that there is no right answer on where to do homework for elementary age kids. It seems that the logical answer is to have lots of options. A desk...the kitchen table...the coffee table...the floor...before jujitsu...after soccer - who knows. I'm pretty sure that all reading in my boys reconfigured room will be on the floor.
The beds are bunked now and the room is suddenly spacious. My eldest directed the movement of furniture by visually sizing the dresser and toy chest, determining that the best position for the desks was back to back so that they don't distract each other and finding the placement for the red and blue desks that arrive next Saturday. Not only did he feel control over his space (and his parents), but he was precisely correct about how to make the most of the space in his shared room.
Homework starts in earnest this week. Our school, Wornick Jewish Day School, is very balanced about it - there's always reading and then a mix of math, Hebrew, science and writing - but they aim for no more than 30-45 minutes a night. And homework is for parents to supervise, not participate - the goal is to practice what they do in school. It's frustrating when they stall and struggle, but it's no help to our kids if we do their work for them. I'd rather they fail trying to do homework and let the teacher know that they don't quite understand a concept then ensure perfect homework, but no real learning.
We don't have the desk as an option this week...but somehow I think we'll be alright for a week. And next week, they can experiment will all sorts of quiet(ish) locations for homework. I found this video from a teacher on YouTube talking about the purpose of homework and his recommendations for getting kids to do it. Short and entertaining...even though he says "ditch the desk".