Creativity + organization = learning.
By Susan Peck | Photography by Beth Singer
Kids just want to have fun — and an adventure. Incorporate a sense of escapade with some creativity, and you can transform their study space into something magical, a place that combines fun and learning, what experts say is the key to scholastic success.
First, start with an imaginative theme and with their input build a world that invites your child to explore, invent and create, all in the name of fun. And the learning will come naturally.
CREATE A COZY HOMEWORK STATION
Every parent wants to engage their children in a stress-free study environment whether it’s a designated room or a portion of a bedroom or office. Here are some expert (and sometimes surprising!) tips to help create an afterschool work space that’s a comfy oasis for children of any age.
“While you want a study area that’s an extension or complement to school, you want to make sure you keep it much more relaxed and designed outside of the box,” says Barbara Zyren, reading specialist in the Troy school system for more than 30 years. “Kids have to conform and sit in
rigid chairs and desks all day at school so when they come home, I like to see study spaces made up of laid-back things like oversized cushions, a comfy rug to lie down on while reading, even a daybed or couch to stretch out on and use a laptop.
“It’s all about positive reinforcement for kids,” she adds. “They need to be able to move and unwind, and I even encourage having your snack while studying. Let them eat something healthy like popcorn or cheese and crackers with a special drink while doing their homework and it becomes an enjoyable time they look forward to instead of dreading.”
Kids also adore a cozy space just their size. Nooks, crannies and lofts become a favorite hideout for privacy and the quiet needed for serious concentration.
David Biauce, general manager of House of Bedrooms Kids in Bloomfield Hills, says they take that into consideration for clients looking for creative spaces to convert to study areas.
“One idea for a space-saving study area is to remove doors from a closet and turn it into a study nook — complete with desk and all,” Biauce says. “The smaller technology used today works well within smaller spaces like this so it’s perfect.”
His colleague Andron Fox, visual director at House of Bedrooms Kids, says, “Another favorite of kids is creating a loft system that incorporates a bed and desk all-in-one that gives kids a place of their own to study and relax. This works great for both younger kids as well as teenagers, and it’s space-saving for any sized bedroom.”
When it comes to repurposing space, Fox says one of his most creative designs was to use the area under the staircase for a study nook. “It’s just big enough to place a small desk and chair and a few well-appointed accessories, and the kids just love going to study there.”
ORGANIZING FOR SUCCESS
Did you know you can boost your child’s confidence and learning potential just by helping him find some order?
There are bigger benefits to getting organized than a clean room. It’s essential for learning, says Tovah Klein, Ph.D., author of How Toddlers Thrive.
“Organization encourages responsibility. When kids are organized, they are more calm,” she says. “If they know what they need and where to find it, they can accomplish more things on their own, which builds confidence.”
Award-winning designer Amy Miller Weinstein of AMW Design Studio in Birmingham suggests one of the best ways to keep the family orderly is to create an uber-organized mudroom or entryway.
“Think about it. The mudroom is the first point of entry for your kids when they come in with backpacks, books, musical instruments and sports gear. If the mudroom has the right hooks, baskets or shelves, it gives everything a place and gives your kids the structure they need to stay organized. Then they can easily find the items when they need them later on instead of having them scattered all through the house,” Miller-Weinstein says. “I strategically try to design the mudroom so it’s down the hall connected to the study area, to make things flow as seamlessly as possible for both parents and kids.
“Other cool tools for a homework station include putting up a message board or magnetic wallpaper so you can organize the week’s events or projects due,” she adds.
An erasable calendar version is great because it makes changing your board a cinch. You can draw icons like a school bus or a soccer ball for little ones who don’t read to help keep them in the know. And never underestimate the power of the two-pocket folder. Label one side “To Do” and the other “Ready to Turn In.” No more misplaced assignments.
SPLASH OF COLOR
Current color trends for kids’ study areas and game rooms go from very vibrant to neutral.
“I have been using what I call stormy colors like blues, grays, purples and inky lavenders,” Miller-Weinstein says. “Warm colors like oranges and reds are more stimulating, and cool colors like blues and greens are more zen and calming. Remember to choose family-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood and maintenance-free fabrics that will all take the wear and tear in these much-used spaces.”
Lastly, for visual inspiration think of covering the walls of the study station with classic art or your child’s own artwork by making a mini art gallery. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire a mini-Picasso in the making.
Or, hang a world map or a display of clocks in different time zones — perfect for telling stories and to point out different exotic geographic locations or places that are special to your family.
The ideas are limitless as long as you keep the learning exciting and entertaining. NS
FOR MORE INFO
House of Bedrooms Kids
1716 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills
(248) 745-0012, houseofbedroomskids.com
AMW Design Studio
1234 Pierce St., Birmingham
(248) 321-0931; amwdesignstudio.com
Bob Shaerer Architextural Interiors
1668 Telegraph Road, Suite 110, Bloomfield Hills
(248) 874-0605, www.schaererarchinteriors.com
Jones-Keena & Co.
2292 Cole St., Birmingham
(248) 644-7515, www.jones-keena.com
Moceri Custom Homes
3005 University Drive, Auburn Hills
(248) 373-6200, mocerihomes.com
Cottage Company of Harbor Springs
131 E. Bay St., Harbor Springs
(231) 526-2537, www.cottage-company.com