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Ordinary Shoes

Does 4th Grader Need Desk or Dedicated Space?

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We bought a child's desk last year for our DD. The idea was that she could use it for her homework. She never uses it for homework. It has become a dumping ground for all kinds of junk during the week. She does her homework sitting at the counter in the kitchen. The desk is in the dining room. 

We're pulling DD out of school and will be homeschooling her for the 4th grade. Even though we will be schooling at home, I don't see her habits changing and think that she will continue to do her written work at the kitchen counter. 

Do your older elementary schoolers have a desk or a dedicated place for them to do written work? I'm tempted to get rid of the desk because it would remove the temptation to set junk on it. 

 

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If it's not something she can use as a middle or high schooler (and you're willing to keep it around that long,) I'd get rid of it.

Mine does his work wherever I am for the most part. When we were homeschooling full time, having two desks next to each other was working well - I'd sit at one and do work/teach while he sat next to me at his and did his work.

When mine wants some quiet or time alone to work he tends to work at a coffee table in the living room or basement, or on a clipboard somewhere else in the house

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One of my kids has a desk, but never uses it. She studies at our dining room table. (No counter or table in my kitchen.) Ds uses a table in our family room. Both of them do some school on their beds, on the couch etc. 

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DS (9yo) has a 2 person table, but we don't use it for school work.  He uses it for all his independent projects.  Schoolwork tends to happen in the kitchen or at our small dining table.

Adding: I have considered getting him a desk, but I can't figure out how to make that work with our schooling.  DS is still at the age where he needs to bounce ideas, talk, and have direct instruction sometimes.  The smallest we can work with is a 2-person table, where it's more of a partnership. 

Edited by HomeAgain

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My 4th grader does the vast majority of her work at the kitchen table.  She does have a desk in her room as part of her bedroom set.  I occasionally tell her to do some independent work, like writing spelling words, in there if her brothers are being disruptive. She likes to draw so she sometimes uses it for that.

I did have school desks I purchased with a plan for a school room in our garage  but it was too cold and far away and I like being central near the kitchen.  I sold the desks on craigslist. 

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DS14 used an IKEA micke desk with hutch (https://m2.ikea.com/us/en/p/-s09903014/) for 2nd to 4th grade and ran out of space.

He used a 6ft foldable picnic table (https://www.walmart.com/ip/6ft-Center-Fold/13269097)  for 5th to 8th grade and that was a comfortable table size for him to have ample space to do work. It was also convenient for use as a science lab table. 

For 9th grade he use a laptop tray/desk (https://www.target.com/p/multi-purpose-folding-lap-activity-tray-black-cosco/-/A-53698963) as most of his work is online.

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We've never found child-sized or other small desks to be very functional - they always seem to end up covered in papers and books with no space left to work. Our (public schooled) oldest has a 4'x6' table in his room that he uses as a desk for homework, and we recently got a similar one for our homeschooled 5th grader. He still does most of his school work at the dining room table, but has started using his table for some longer writing assignments and for his hobbies. I suspect he'll do more school work there next year when his younger siblings are home full-time. 

In your position, I would probably switch out the desk for a small bookshelf to store school books. Doing school work at the kitchen counter is great, but having school books left there at the end of the day would drive me crazy. 

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My oldest has a desk. The only thing organized on it is her nail polish collection. Everything else is a cluttered mess. She does her school work on her bed (or on the computer).

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I've had 5 fourth graders (with the last one starting next year).  None of them have had a desk that they actually used for school work.  That didn't happen until they were older teens.  For the most part, any horizontal surface becomes a junk magnet in our house so I try to have as few as possible until they are old enough to actually keep it reasonable.  Unless the desk can be placed in her room to use as she desires I would get rid of it.

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We ended up getting rid of desks and putting a kitchen table in our school room. Our kids needed room to sprawl once they were past early elementary school aged.  Books, binder, laptop---it's hard to fit that all on a child's desk.

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My 7yo uses his desk in his room every single day. The only reason though is to keep the 1yo from climbing all over him or his books the instant he sits down in the living spaces. 

Do you think she may use the desk as an art or science station? It's not necessary but it's convenient to have a space with all the supplies in easy reach. My 7yo is into science so his desk (and adjoining bookcase) is stocked with measuring tools, circuitry gear, and building toys. When MDS is older I expect his space will be stocked with art supplies.

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We have had several arrangements through the years. DS currently does his homework either at a small table under the stairs, on a coffee tray on the couch, or at the desk in his room, which is a clutter-fest of legos, science kits, books, and so forth, out of which he carves a big enough spot to work when he wants to. DD usually works in her room, either on a lap desk in her bed/on her love seat, at a TV tray in the living room, or sometimes at the large desk in our library/craft room/server room. It was the same when she was homeschooling as now when she has homework. 

If your DD prefers working at the kitchen counter, you might be better off either using the desk for a computer (if she has one), and/or using it or replacing it with a bookshelf or cubby as an organizing point for her homeschooling materials and supplies. So, she doesn't necessarily have to work there, but it would be a spot for all her work to live. You'll want to come up with a strategy for keeping it from becoming a "hotspot" for clutter, of course.

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Both my guys have desks. They use the kitchen table for school. But the desks? Those are their own creative spaces. They clutter them, yes, but they also read there, write their stories there, draw there. So for us, the desks are needed, but not for school. Both boys are fifteen.

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On 4/13/2019 at 4:06 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

We bought a child's desk last year for our DD. The idea was that she could use it for her homework. She never uses it for homework. It has become a dumping ground for all kinds of junk during the week. She does her homework sitting at the counter in the kitchen. The desk is in the dining room. 

We're pulling DD out of school and will be homeschooling her for the 4th grade. Even though we will be schooling at home, I don't see her habits changing and think that she will continue to do her written work at the kitchen counter. 

Do your older elementary schoolers have a desk or a dedicated place for them to do written work? I'm tempted to get rid of the desk because it would remove the temptation to set junk on it. 

 

My little 9yo children didn't need desks, because they didn't go to their rooms and do school. We spent time together at the kitchen table.

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My kids are 13 and 11, and just this year have started to use the desk in DH's office if he's not there and they need a quiet place to work.  I'm gradually increasing their independent work now so I can see the possibility of needing to give them a desk in their rooms.  This is mainly to escape the noise or annoying habits of their sibling, though.  

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Through 8th grade, they needed a space to sit and write or draw or whatever.  Sometimes we sat side-by-side to read and sometimes I’d read lessons to them while they colored, etc.  We happened to have a cluster of three desks in the playroom and we’d each sit at one of those together when it was time to write or draw.  They were small desks and it worked well, because they only needed a piece of paper and a pencil.  

When the oldest hit high school, though, his books got big and he needed to spread them on his desk to use them.  He had a big honkin’ biology book and a big honkin’ algebra book.  And he needed a larger surface so he could open those big books and also have room for his paper so he could work on sums or take notes on paper.  Our kitchen is tiny and only has a tiny table that barely seats two.  Our dining room is either too hot or too cold and the dining room table is ever so slightly too high to write at comfortably.  So, for my oldest, he ended up in the playroom with a desk with a lot of drawers.  He stuffs things in those drawers and they become a mess, but he needs a nice flat space to spread out those books.  And now that he’s taking online classes he needs space for a computer monitor and/or laptop as well.  So, a traditional desk with drawers works well for him.  

My youngest is still in 8th grade and doesn’t have the honkin’ big books yet, so he tends to sit alone at the tiny kitchen table to do his independent work (the math or grammar workbook), or he sits at my laptop to compose, and we sit on the couch side-by-side for the math or grammar lessons and for history and civics and bible readings.  He reads his literature books in his bedroom or in my bedroom. He’s all over the house for school and the little desk we had when he was younger has been put into the basement because once we stopped schooling with the oldest son, he just didn’t use it.

I expect that next year when he’s in 9th grade, my youngest will take over an old computer desk we still have stashed away in a corner.  Right now, it’s got a bunch of junky computer stuff on it that my dh will clear out so that my youngest can spread a bunch of books on it.

Edited by Garga

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Desks tend to be too small to be really useful, especially when there is a nice long counter or a comfy couch readily available. I'd tell her she could have it for her room if she wants (for her own purposes, not schoolwork). 

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