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Do your older teens or young adults use a desk?


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My oldest is only 8yo but I get stressed thinking about how our house is too small for everyone to have their own room, especially when the kids get older. I'd like to be able to house our kids for their first few years of college, if they want. I've been trying to think of creative ways to squeeze another room into our house (and budget for it ahead of time which is why I think about this now) but I just don't think it's possible with our layout.

We currently have one room that's all office space. I'm just wondering...how much do older teens and young adults need a desk? I'm wondering if maybe they do just as well with lap desks on their bed at that age versus when their younger and benefit from dedicated study space, plus a college kid presumably would study on campus too. Then perhaps we wouldn't need an office space.

I have three kids so that only allows for one kid to have their own room if we go without a dedicated office so it would only be for while in college. So what's your experience with college kids at home? What's their lifestyle like? Any college kids share a room with siblings and how do you think that affects their choice to stay at home versus moving out?

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My teens never use a desk. One has a desk in his room, but he doesn't use it for anything other than dumping stuff on it. He's the only boy left at home, so he has his own room now. He is doing his college assignments at the dining room table right now (and we don't have an eat in kitchen, so it's also the table where we eat all of our meals). The other teen has a school type table in our small family room that we use as a homeschool space. My older boys shared a room and both had desks, but they never used the desks for school. They usually did their work sitting in their beds. I wouldn't spend the money to add a room, especially if you already have an office space, for a college student's study space.

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My oldest is 14, so I have no experience with college age. She has a desk, but hardly ever uses it.

when I was in college, I preferred working on my bed and rarely used a desk.

have you seen Murphy desks that fold down from the wall? That might be something to look at, or some other minimalist desk option.

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This could vary widely.

Our adult son did use a desk in his room.  It was under his loft bed, even when he got taller.  

Teen at home uses his desk for artwork only.  All studying and academic work is done on the couch or the kitchen table.  Or at the family computer in the living room.

DD prefers the dining room table.  Sometimes kitchen.  Sometimes couch.

I never used a desk in school.  Coffee shops or the couch for me.

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College girl is at college. I think she sometimes uses her desk, but sits in comfy chairs & on her bed a lot, too.

Dd#2 doesn't use a desk. The couch, her bed, the floor... all are utilized. 

My older teens are girls & each have their own room. Eldest left for college anyway. Second wants to stay in her room. Third is leaning toward leaving. So, it hasn't mattered either way, more about personality.

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No. Or rarely.

don’t stress

 

Consider folding individual work tops that can be used with a chair anyplace instead of dedicated desks and desk space.  Similar to lap desks, but have their own legs so height is adjustable for better use and posture. 

 

 

 

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Mine never used desks. 
We made kiddie desks available when they were little, a regular desk in their room when they were middles, and we have large desk space available today. They’ve all always preferred beds, couches, the floor and, just once in a while, the dining room table. 

For DE, in between classes, dd usually even preferred the cafeteria to the library, though sometimes she’d find an empty classroom. More for the solitude than the desks. 

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We got through all of our homeschool years and most of our high school years with no desks. Then last winter my high school junior was balancing a large atlas on a bookcase and the end of a bed to create a desk space. I felt a little guilty. We bought a cheap 4' desk from Home Depot and cheap chair from Amazon and made a little desk space where the bookcase was (moved that to another room). Then Covid hit--we were very glad she had that desk space and she uses it a lot. My college kid came home and I wish we had a better desk space for her. We set up a card table in dh's office and she uses that or her bed. It's nice to have both options available.

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I have one who is a writer and uses a desk extensively.  My other child doesn't as much.  I think a lot will depend upon personality and major.  How much one studies on campus will also depend upon how close the campus is, what the student's schedule is like, and what the environment on the campus is like.

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We have folding tables I got at Costco which have served as desks for years and years. They are perfect! Because they fold up, we can (theoretically) stow them. But in reality, we have four or five of them now because they serve multiple purposes so well, I bought more of them. 

I have also used them as buffet tables when we hosted parties, a table in the music area of the basement, where ds had a computer running some music program, a table out in front of my house for selling eggs to passers-by, and now I have one of them set up in my "gym" room, where I write down my exercises. 

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All of my kids have desks, but they are for their computers, not necessarily for schoolwork.  Most schoolwork, outside of a few things on the computer, are done on the couch, beds, or the dining room table.  Once DD started college she almost exclusively used her laptop, except for art class, and she did most of it at the dining room table or in her room.

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My kids are only in 9th grade, but I'll just chime in ... they don't use desks for school.  They each have a desk in their room.  One of them uses hers for make-up application.  The other uses hers as a junk collector.  They do their work on their beds usually.  My younger also built a small stand to hold her computer when she sits on the floor during video classes.

I liked having a desk when I was a student.  So I guess it is individual.

Edited by SKL
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My ds is 17. He has a desk in his room and has his gaming things set up on the desk.  He does most of his school work at the dining table, but does homework occasionally at his desk.  He's our last kid at home and is our only kid who has regularly used a desk.  (He hasn't homeschooled since mid elementary, but is doing remote school for his senior year)

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My 17yo dd only uses her desk for occasion Zoom calls.  She does her schoolwork and zoom chats with long distance friends from her bed.

My 13yo ds works some on his bed and some at his desk, mainly because it’s easier for some of the computer based curriculum.

They also have desk space in what is technically the formal dining room, but with a 4yo in the house, it’s not quiet enough.

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First, your oldest is 8, and things do have a way of working themselves out, so try not to stress too much about this.

Second, I have a 23 yo, 18, yo, 15 yo and 12 yo.

23 yo had a desk but never used it. She  worked on the couch most of the time.

18 yo always has used a desk for school. She does online school and finds it hard to take notes and such on the couch. She will move her laptop into the kitchen for math because she struggles and often needs help with math.

15 yo uses a desk in the bonus room. Hers is online school. She also has a desk in her room that she uses for writing stories, crafting, and when she uses my laptop, school. 

I feel confident, though, that you will find a solution for these problems when the time comes. You may buy lofted beds with study spaces underneath. I've seen cool fold away type desks that are wall mounted. Or it may never be an issue because your kids may prefer the kitchen table with headphones, the couch or the bed. Really, it will be okay.  My family has shuffled the various bedrooms and spaces in our house multiple times through the years depending on our needs. You can do the same.

Also, my oldest college age student shared a bedroom with a sibling until she moved out at age 22. It was the best we could do and she was fine with it. (Not that she didn't gripe, but she seldom used the bedroom for anything other than sleeping. Even with a desk set up in the bedroom, she never used it for studying. She always wanted to be out of the room and among the people.) I had 4 kids and 2 kid bedrooms (2 per room) until she was 21. When oldest was 21, we closed in our garage but the new room went to another sister, because oldest was so close to moving out and never spent any time in the bedroom anyway. 

 

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6 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

First, your oldest is 8, and things do have a way of working themselves out, so try not to stress too much about this.

Second, I have a 23 yo, 18, yo, 15 yo and 12 yo.

23 yo had a desk but never used it. She  worked on the couch most of the time.

18 yo always has used a desk for school. She does online school and finds it hard to take notes and such on the couch. She will move her laptop into the kitchen for math because she struggles and often needs help with math.

15 yo uses a desk in the bonus room. Hers is online school. She also has a desk in her room that she uses for writing stories, crafting, and when she uses my laptop, school. 

I feel confident, though, that you will find a solution for these problems when the time comes. You may buy lofted beds with study spaces underneath. I've seen cool fold away type desks that are wall mounted. Or it may never be an issue because your kids may prefer the kitchen table with headphones, the couch or the bed. Really, it will be okay.  My family has shuffled the various bedrooms and spaces in our house multiple times through the years depending on our needs. You can do the same.

Also, my oldest college age student shared a bedroom with a sibling until she moved out at age 22. It was the best we could do and she was fine with it. (Not that she didn't gripe, but she seldom used the bedroom for anything other than sleeping. Even with a desk set up in the bedroom, she never used it for studying. She always wanted to be out of the room and among the people.) I had 4 kids and 2 kid bedrooms (2 per room) until she was 21. When oldest was 21, we closed in our garage but the new room went to another sister, because oldest was so close to moving out and never spent any time in the bedroom anyway. 

 

BTW, oldest moved out not because she didn't want to share with siblings. It was mostly because she didn't like rules. When your kids get older, presumably they will be able to weigh the different factors. Freedom from siblings vs. paying rent. Don't feel bad if you can't house them in the way that they'd prefer for their college years. It's entirely their decision and you will be doing the best that you can.

They may be fine with sharing with siblings. Both my brother in laws lived at home, sharing rooms till they were like 20 ish. My dh moved out to go to college and work. You can't know that when the kids are 8. 

 

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2/3 of mine use a desk, and it's the more-industrious better-attentive 2/3.  The one who does everything in bed is also, go figure, the most distractible and most likely to doze off mid-ZOOM (le sigh).

Desks don't have to be big or fancy. But I do think there's something to the psychology of having separate spaces, even if the spaces are only separated by a few feet, for different activities. Also to the professionalism of ZOOM visibility when you're leaning back onto pillows.

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I agree you can't really  know what teens will be like when they're older.  I think as time goes on you get to know their personalities and preferences.  Sometimes they'll clamor to leave the nest.  My college student would be happy to live at home but loves the academic peer group and faculty access he has on his campus 4  hours from home.  

I will say both my teens (newly 16, 19) regularly use desk space when using their laptops in particular.  

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My daughter never used a desk till this semester - she is doing college from home and classes are on zoom. So she asked for and we got her an inexpensive desk - actually a dressing table - from IKEA; a folding table like Quill described would also have worked if we hadn't found something she liked. Aesthetics are important to her so we were OK with doing more than a cheap folding table. If my son's college kicks the kids home before the semester ends, he will get a folding table but he won't mind it. 

In general I discourage studying in bed as I do believe it can interfere with nighttime sleep and is also not a good way to read to learn.  But when I used to study in bed I always dozed off, so that's a personal bias. 

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My 16 yo uses a desk. The desk is in their bedroom, and has a desktop computer, which is connected to a printer and a large drawing tablet. Due to a medical condition, we recently rearranged the room so the desk is right next to the bed, allowing some working from the bed as needed. We purchased a very comfortable cushioned desk chair this summer, since this semester they are doing full-time online dual enrollment. 

We do not have a table anywhere else in the apartment suitable for school work. No kitchen table, no dining table., no office.  

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I have 2 teens and both have a desk in their bedrooms and use them everyday.   My younger kids just sit at the table.   Its not just about the desk,  though.  The older ones often shut their doors for extra noise filtration- our big family can be really loud!  They tend to type papers while sitting at the desk, but if watching a video they sit on the bed.  As for textbook reading- I see them do both.  Note-taking is often better at the desk.  Math is at the desk.   As your kids grow and your family changes, you will find ways to work out whatever issues come up.   If I have another kid who needs quiet space, they can go outside on the back porch or in my bedroom with the door shut.  No desk, but I can set up a table!  Depending on where you live,  older kids can study at the library, a Cafe, etc.  

I would not worry right now about hogh school, there will be a solution when the time comes!

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Before COVID, my teens could use the desks at the library or community college. Since late March, schools and community colleges went virtual so they have to use their desk which is a shared dining table. 

I have no desk space so I am currently using my upright piano as a desk. I have a laptop, textbook, printed assignment on a clipboard on my piano.

I have shared a bedroom with my younger brother from when he was born. I moved out in college even though the commute was tolerable. How much a desk is needed depends on individual. I was in engineering school and since it wasn’t too safe to stay past midnight on campus to use the computer rooms, I had a windows laptop, a Macintosh, a laser printer on my L shaped dorm table. I had engineering textbooks on the built in dorm shelves. 

As for space, we end up using the living room as the study area and the dining room as storage space. We are at 865sqft (including patio) for two adults, two teens. My husband use the bedroom for working from home since he has conference calls all day and sometimes weekends too. His employer expect having to work from home to last till at least June. 

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No.  I put desks in kids’ rooms and they just got junked up.  So I got rid of them.  My kids, now teens, prefer to work at a table or a counter- kitchen, dining room, patio, garage...

It also made it easier when they got issued iPads for school- since they had never used desks in their room, it was so easy to have the rule ‘no iPads in bedrooms’.  It was an unexpected benefit imo.

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I never worked at a desk. I loved working on the floor.  It drove my dh crazy, and so we got a big "island"--like a modern fainting couch--where I could sit like I was on the floor with papers spread out all around me, and then we were both happy.  

When I was a homeschooler, there was a speaker who talked about letting people find their own way on this.  I wish I could remember her name.  Her POV helped me a lot.

When I was a kid, I slept only every other night.  My mom had a rule that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I stayed in bed and had no electronics.  I wrote and read and drew and so on.  To this day, I can't write with shoes on.  Even in high school, if I had to write in class, I'd take off my shoes.  Isn't that weird?

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Yes

ds 26 has made a desk from 2 filing cabinets and a house door. He uses his desk every single day. Especially now as he is in Melbourne with a hard lockdown and is working form his home

dd20 uses her desk for the majority of the day. She is abck at home at the moment as Uni is all online

Ds16 has a massive desk in his room. He has his desktop on it

he uses it every single day

my twins 9  use a desk for schoolwork

 

 

 

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One of mine lay in bed to write, surrounded by books.  The other used a desk.  That position in bed is very hard on the back, but sitting at a dining room table with a decent chair is a perfectly decent option.

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First, breathe deeply. It’s good you want to plan, but things will work out.  I have 6 kids. The kids sleep in two bedrooms — boys in a room, girls in a room. Eldest is at university but will be home before Thanksgiving to finish out his fall semester. Starting when he was in 8th or 9th grade, he preferred to work lounging on his bed with his books, etc scattered higgledy-piggledy. Drove me batty but seemed to work for him. He did have a desk in the boys’ room for math, attending online classes, or a change of pace.

Eldest two girls have desks in the girls’ room. They seem to switch between their desks and their beds depending on the subject, time of day, and, I don’t know, whether Mars is in retrograde or something. Again, it seems to work for them.

Younger three use desks set up in the “schoolroom”, aka den.

There are myriad ways to handle space issues including going to the library (assuming yours is open), park, etc. Don’t borrow trouble that might not ever show up. 

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