Remote learning, while far-from-perfect, is still a necessary alternative to in-person classes for many while the pandemic rages on. For kids schooling from home, Julia Niego, a certified educational therapist and a consultant at Organizational Tutors, says one of the most important things parents and caretakers can do is to create a workspace that “works for the student and is responsive to their needs.” Fashioning a dedicated school space, she continues, will not only help a kid focus on schoolwork, but also help them “feel prepared for what’s coming down the pipeline” — like the possibility of lots more time spent learning remotely.
At the center of any workspace is of course a desk. Niego says that anyone looking to buy a desk for their child should start by considering “the age and development of the child, and the work they’re going to be doing in this space.” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and a member of the faculty at Columbia University’s Teachers College, agrees. “A younger student will likely be focused on places to store crayons, markers, and some toys,” she says, “while an older child will need a surface area for laptops, other electronics, and a place to plug in.” Size matters, too. “The desk that my 16-year-old likes to work at is a different size than what my 9-year-old is using,” says Andrea Thorpe, a 12-year homeschooler of three and the founder of website African-American Homeschool Moms. And don’t discount your child’s preferences. “They should have a say and perhaps even design or create the desk or work area,” says Laurie Block Spigel, a writing teacher and homeschooling parent who runs the website Homeschool NYC. “A personalized desk that has room for the things they need, and is also inspiring, is best.”
To help you find the best desk for your kid to use while schooling from home, we spoke to Niego, Thorpe, Hafeez, Spigel, and 12 other experts — including teachers, educators, and parents — about their favorite desks for kids. Read on for their picks, which we’ve organized by age group from preschoolers through high-schoolers.
Best desks for preschoolers and kindergartners
Even the youngest of learners need a place to do their work. Tze Chun, the mother of a 3-year-old and founder/CEO of online gallery Uprise Art, chose this bentwood table and chair set from ECR4Kids for her daughter. As it happens, Chun says she actually found it on the Strategist, where contributor Laura Perciasepe wrote about how it looks like a much more expensive piece from Herman Miller. “We were looking for a desk and chair set for our living room that could live alongside our other furniture without sticking out like a sore thumb,” says Chun. Because the middle of her living room was the best spot for her daughter’s workspace, Chun says the desk’s super-discrete look, coupled with the fact that it can transform into a coffee table and two ottomans (or small side tables) at night when her kid isn’t using it, made this a no-brainer. Importantly, she adds, it’s a more-than-serviceable substitute for her daughter’s at-school desk. “It’s a great height for her to put puzzles together, either sitting or standing, and the past six months she’s been using it as her ‘work station’ while her Montessori school has been closed.”
Rose Aka-James, a homeschooler and member of mater mea, an online community for Black moms, chose this set from Ikea for her 3-year-old son who loves to do arts and crafts and different types of hands-on activities. “I needed a desk that was durable, easy to set up, and, most importantly, easy to clean,” she told us, adding that the Lätt checks all her boxes. “I knew I’d be homeschooling and we would be spending a lot of time at this desk, and this is cost-effective and simple for our needs.”
For something similar (but without included chairs), Laura Fenton, a mom to a 5-year-old boy and the author of The Little Book of Living Small, suggests Ikea’s Flisat table. While she does not own it, Fenton says she’s been eyeing this for her son and likes how the top of the solid-pine desk is cleverly designed with two removable panels that you can place storage bins beneath, giving you places to store kids’ supplies right below their work surface. Simply slip two Trofast bins (sold separately) into the tabletop, and your child now has a place for the stuff they’ll need every school day.
For another super-simple option, Justo Garcia, a principal product designer at Vox Media, uses this inexpensive table that folds in half as a desk for both his 4-year-old and 6-year-old. It’s smaller than your standard folding table, which Garcia says makes it a great option for families in apartments. He also likes how its design makes it super portable. “The table doesn’t weigh much, which allows us to bring it everywhere or move it from place to place inside the house,” he says. While he promises it’s kid-proof, Garcia does think this would work best for younger students. “Our 4-year-old is only doing books, cards, and light reading and writing on it, so he does not require much space right now,” he says.