Tips for Planning a Child’s Workspace

By MARK DUTKA
Sunset Ideas for Great Home Offices ©1995 Sunset Publishing

Child’s Workspace

A comfortable, versatile computer workstation can boost your child’s productivity and well-being. Here are some tips for planning a space that will serve as an incentive for the development of good work, play, and study habits:

  • If you want a system that can “grow” as your child grows, consider using a worksurface that is height-adjustable. There are many currently available.
  • Ergonomics is as important for children as it is for adults. Poor posture can form early and lead to physical problems over time. When planning your child’s space, be sure to consider the following: The height and tilt of the computer keyboard. Wrists should rest comfortably in a straight line from forearm to fingers. Proper seating posture: a chair with a slight tilt forward is best, with arms positioned at a right angle (see diagram). To minimize neck and eye strain, position the computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at a slightly downward angle from your child’s eyes. If using an adult’s chair (there are few ergonomically-sensitive chairs for children), make sure the child’s feet rest flat on the floor. If they don’t, a good remedy is a footrest or stool.
  • Managing multiple wires can be a problem in a room already filled with furnishings. To ensure that wires stay out of sight and don’t pose safety hazards to younger children, pets and others, look for furnishings that have wire management systems built in, or purchase wire management channels or velcro fasteners that group the wires and attach to the underside of the work surface.
  • As your child may be doing more than working on a computer, make sure there is a task lamp on the desk to eliminate eye strain.
  • Children like cupboards and drawers for hiding things. Parents will appreciate how these features help to keep the work area free of clutter.
  • A plastic laminate such as Formica or Wilsonart is a smart option for the top of the worksurface as it wipes up easily, and withstands general abuse. Wood on the other hand, can scratch, chip and dent.
  • Aesthetically, you can make a child’s desk as “fun” as you want by choosing interesting colors and shapes for both the worksurface, and for hardware such as knobs. Laminates come in hundreds of colors, and worksurface shapes do not have to be rectilinear. Seating can be upholstered in any “fun” fabric to liven up, and personalize your child’s space.
  • Mobility is a nice option. Put your child’s desksystem on casters (wheels) so that it can be moved around to “redecorate” as your child grows. Make sure casters are “locking” so the system won’t roll around once in place. Freestanding drawers and cupboards can be treated in the same manner.
  • If your child’s workspace will be in his/her bedroom, one option is to begin with bunk-style beds, turning the lower portion into a desk unit while leaving the bed above for sleeping.