Active boys can have a hard time settling down to book work after a day at school and with extra-curricular activities. Providing them with a desk of their own, where they can work comfortably, may ease the difficulty of preparing for homework and study. All children need sturdy furniture, but boys sometimes can put extra stress on desks and other possessions.
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Children's desks should follow the same ergonomics as for adults. Chairs should allow the user to sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor. The seat depth should be sufficient to allow the user to sit all the way back in the chair without irritating the backs of knees, and it also should support the full length of the thigh and allow the back to rest comfortably without slouching or straining to remain upright. It should be lightly padded for comfort. The chair height should match the desk height in that the user can sit comfortably upright, with forearms level with or slightly below the elbow. This is a good position for writing, typing or even drawing. If a computer is to be used, the screen should be positioned at, or slightly below, eye level to avoid straining the back of the neck. If the student is going to draw or paint, ideally a removable tabletop easel should be provided. This allows for more accurate placement of lines and colour. The problem is that a desk that fits a child perfectly one week may be too small within a month. The ideal furniture for a child should grow as he grows.
Quick and Easy Desk Solutions
For very young children, the easy solution may be to to purchase an inexpensive plastic table and chair set. Homework is usually light for younger children, and since the investment is minimal, outgrowing the set is not such a major issue. For students who are a little older, use two two-drawer filing cabinets, a sheet of three-quarters-inch plywood, a 1-by-6-inch board and a remnant of vinyl flooring that has no texture in its surface. Place the two filing cabinets about 2 feet apart and cut the 1-by-6-inch board into two lengths that will reach from the outer edge of the filing cabinets across the space between them. Cut a rectangle of plywood into dimensions that will exactly cover the surface of the boards and the filing cabinets. To create a smooth writing surface, top this arrangement with a piece of vinyl flooring, cut to size. A standard desk chair can provide adjustable seating; and as the child grows, short lengths of board can be added under the original 2-by-6 planks to raise the desk height. A moderately skilled home carpenter may be able to structure a slightly more elaborate desk by creating a framework of 2-by-4 stock. If this approach is taken, do not take the supporting 2-by-4 across the front where the knee space will be; instead, use a flat piece of 1-inch board in that position, or use lumber of sufficient strength that a support will not be needed at the front of the desk. Premade kitchen or bathroom counters can make good desk material. Be sure to brace the legs well, especially if electronics will be sitting on its surface. Bricks or blocks of wood can be inserted under the legs as the child grows. If the family home does not have sufficient space for a full desk, a milk carton or wooden cube can be used for storing books, papers and other items needed for school. A piece of masonite cut into 12-by-18-inch dimensions can be used as a lap desk. If the boy is a fan of a particular cartoon character or television series, visit your local library for books on creating furniture for children. Many have plans, lists of needed tools and materials, and a rating of a project's difficulty.
Buying a desk
Yard sales or second-hand furniture stores may be good options for purchasing a desk. Check prospective purchases for loose parts and hardware that may protrude with sharp edges. Make sure drawers work smoothly and that there is room for all planned activities. Schools that are changing their overall appearance sometimes will sell older desks. School-supply houses sell a variety of student desks, ranging from sturdy, colourful offerings for the preschool crowd to sleek, sophisticated study centres for high school and college students. Some models even include clever lifts and adjustments to allow desks to grow with the user. Parents who are shopping for study furniture should look for rounded corners, correct ergonomics, storage and durability. For older boys, be sure to include the student in choosing the desk.
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