A top-notch education starts at home, and creating a dedicated homework area could help your kids complete their assignments efficiently and successfully-with the least amount of kicking and screaming. Whatever your space or budget limitations may be, any devoted space for study is better than sprawling out on the floor in front of the television. Not convinced? Build it-whether it's a nook in the kitchen or a room all its own-and the good grades will come. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you get started, PLUS inspirational homework stations (like the one shown above), and 15 things you forgot to pick up while back-to-school shopping. By Tabitha Sukhai for thisoldhouse.com
Now, during end-of-summer back-to-school sales, is the best time to stock up on supplies for the entire school year. Check your school district's website for required supply lists and grade curriculums, then start shopping. You don't want to buy things your kid doesn't need, after all. But having a robust inventory means you'll be ready for the occasional last-minute project or forgotten book report. You can get multiple discounts by shopping on state-tax holidays, during which some states lift taxes on select school-related items. Check the Federation of Tax Administrators' website for details.
MORE: Make Like a Scout and Be Prepared for Projects, Reports, and Dioramas
Computers are a tremendous part of the educational process and many schools provide access to technology. But for homework, the Internet is a valuable research tool; giving your child access to a home machine will allow them to hone their typing and information retrieval skills. No matter what kind of computer you have in your home, make sure that the monitor is level with your child's head and that it sits 18 to 30 inches away from his or her face. Consider use of an antiglare screen film to prevent eyestrain, especially for older students who may need to work on longer assignments. Don't forget to provide a way for your child to back up his or her work, like a Web-based service (Google Docs) or a portable USB data-storage device.
MORE: Check Out This Top-Rated Portable Hard Drive and 14 Other Things You Forgot to Pick Up While School Shopping
A small filing system for school memos and graded papers, which should be kept until the end of the year, is something that many families overlook until there's a stack of papers overtaking the kitchen table. Decide whether a hanging file holder or an accordion file would help your youngster keep his or her work organized. Here's our favorite file holder.
There are lots of new problem-solvers you can pick up to keep our little learners organized and comfortable as they tackle their studies this September. Here are a few you may have forgotten to add to your list:
1. Adjustable Power Surge Protector
Kids these days are so plugged in. As a parent, make sure you keep an eye on just how plugged in they are and encourage activities that pull them away from the computer for a while. Still, it cannot be denied, kids have to charge cell phones, handheld gaming devices, laptops, and more. Make room for all the plugs with this innovative design by Quirky, available at Bed Bath & Beyond. Six adjustable outlets sit on a flexible power strip so that you can move bulky plugs out of the way as needed to power up every device. Pricing and how to buy
2. Cable Management & Control
Chargers, cables, and cords-oh my! Keep wires from becoming a jumbled mess with this little organizer. The weighted, flexible rubber holders provide four slots to keep cords from falling to the ground. Consider labeling the wires near each end to prevent unplugging the wrong thing, too. Pricing and how to buy
3. Cork Tiles for Custom Bulletin Boards
Get this look, one of 27 inspirational homework areas, with OfficeMax's affordable cork tiles. Aside from making a bold (and functional!) design statement, mimicking this fun school feature will help kids to get into study mode at home. It'll also give them a place to post birthday cards from Nana and those A+ exams. Pricing and how to buy
4. Underbed Storage for Extra Supplies
Stash all those extra supplies you scored at back-to-school sales under the bed. DIYers can create a similar system with planks and dowels. Just pick up a few covered, lipped containers and make sure they fit comfortably under the bed. Then, you can build a handy pull-out rack around them, using this item as a model. Want to just buy this one? Pricing and how to buy
5. Folding Laptop Cart With Storage for a Small-Space Homework Station
No space for a study room? Create an on-demand homework station with this rolling cart. Adjustable height makes it perfect for growing kids. Pricing and how to buy.
More from thisoldhouse.com:
How to Make a Desk With a Storage Hutch
Make Sure Your Home Office is Eco-Friendly
Multi-Tasking Kitchen Offices