Desks for kids are hot property right now. When schools closed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, many parents prepared for months of home learning by investing in new desks for their children.
While schools are due to reopen in September, a little uncertainty still remains, so setting up the perfect home study area for the new school year is still a priority; even just for homework tasks and creativity.
Whether you’re creating somewhere practical for home learning or a comfy corner for a pre-schooler to indulge in arts and crafts, the logistics of choosing a child’s desk are the same.
The first step is to measure the space you have available and shop around for something that will fit without overwhelming the space. This is especially important if the desk is going in a child’s bedroom – you don’t want a desk to dominate the room and detract from the relaxing atmosphere that’s important for a child’s bedroom.
Next, choose a desk that’s appropriately sized for your child’s age and stage of development, and make sure the desktop provides enough space. A GCSE art student, for example, will need considerably more space for supplies and materials than a younger child doing a small amount of homework.
It might be tempting to encourage the kids to study at the kitchen table where you can keep an eye on their progress, but it’s important for children to have a dedicated, quiet space in which to work.
It’s a good idea to go for a set up that’s not too dissimilar from your child’s usual classroom arrangement. For younger children, that means a smaller desk that suits their dimensions but perhaps which can be extended as they grow. For older children, something more like an office desk and chair is likely to suit their needs.
As with all items of furniture for children, choose robust materials that will withstand years of use. If choosing wood, look for sustainably sourced options to do your bit for the planet. Non-toxic paints and natural materials are a good idea for children’s rooms, as are desktops that are easy to wipe clean.
“When you are thinking about a chair and desk set up for a child, consider how long you want it to last, and what activity they are going to be doing on it,” says Jo Blood, managing director of independent ergonomic furniture consultancy Posture People. “If you want a desk to last through to their exams, you really want to look at a set up that mirrors something that you would find in an office.”
Don’t neglect your child’s desk chair, either – make sure it’s appropriately matched to the desk you choose. “A desk with enough room for a laptop and school work, and an adjustable chair,” adds Blood.
“A chair that can grow as your child grows is really important. Features like a seat slider (which makes the seat depth extend) would be really helpful, so the seat can start small and you can extend it as they grow.”
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Great Little Trading Company junior Whittington desk
There’s considerably more to this than the average desk so it’s ideal for creating a really inspiring child’s study space, and perfect for a bedroom. Our six-year-old tester really enjoyed setting this up “just so” with her favourite school accessories and trinkets in place. It has inbuilt storage selves and a cork board panel – perfect for pinning up a study timetable or keepsakes – and an opening for cables if using a laptop. The central storage drawer is so handy; we used to lose important bits of paper constantly but now they have an official place to belong. Our favourite feature is the set of spare legs that can be bought with this desk (£25) to extend its longevity. Designed for children aged three to eight years, it can then be made suitable for children aged five to 12 years – such a good idea that makes this brilliant value for money, too.
X-Rocker borealis official licensed PlayStation gaming desk
This officially licensed PlayStation gaming desk is quick and simple to assemble – our teenage testers did it themselves without adult supervision. We love the way this desk is designed to hide the tangle of cables that seem to go along with gaming, and the in-built blue LED lights add some serious atmosphere to any gaming den. Although they’re a bit fiddly to turn off at night. Adding this to our 13-year-old’s bedroom inspired him to declare his old desk the official homework space, prompting a healthier gaming / studying balance than before. Result.
Vox Tuli kids stackable desk in yellow and green
This stackable desk and stool is surprisingly sturdy and a brilliant space saver – ideal if you don’t have space for a desk as a permanent fixture. We popped this in the corner of the lounge, where it doubled as an unobtrusive coffee table, and we noticed that our six-year-old tester gravitated towards drawing much more than watching TV with this in place. As these can be stacked away, it would work well to have two of these in a shared bedroom.
We love the lower hidden shelf – handy for snacks or keeping art supplies and stationery tidy. If you want to continue the colour scheme in a bedroom, a selection of matching stools and a bookcase are available separately. The step-by-step instructions are foolproof, with all the parts in numbered packages – our four-year-old tester was able to help construct it.
Friska Stockholm-micro sit stand desk
This standing desk has literally changed our lives. Yes, it’s expensive, but if your budget can stretch to this, you won’t regret it. Made in Sweden, it’s a micro version of the company’s all time bestselling standing desk with a smaller top that's ideal for kids, and a small footprint, making it more practical if space is limited.
The best part is the electrical height adjustment feature – at the touch of a button, it quietly and smoothly adjusts to your exact height preference, so the user can move effortlessly between sitting and standing. It’s brilliant for a shared workspace at home, as everyone in the household can easily adjust the height to suit their individual preferences, and you can even programme it to remember four different height settings.
This was our first foray into the world of standing desks and the whole family are converted. Our teenage testers tackled homeschooling with more energy when standing, and our overworked homeschool supervisor found her productivity improved drastically when she spent evenings catching up on work at this desk. The desk frame is finished in tough scratch resistant coating and you can choose from 11 different worktop colours and finishes.
Vtech touch and learn activity desk
This is more of an activity toy than a desk but if you’re looking for a first desk to get a pre-schooler used to the idea of sitting somewhere specific to learn and draw, this brightly coloured desk with LED display is ideal, and lots of fun. It features a writing pad, interactive desktop with double sided touch pages, a blackboard and an art station. Our four-year-old tester spent a few hours pressing buttons and exploring the features before she settled on a few favourite activities. The activity cards are brilliant – we like that there’s the option to purchase an expansion pack. The phone function is good for learning numbers and the chalk board allows for some freestyle creativity. There’s also a musical feature, which plays 20 songs, and plenty of storage for art supplies.
Pallite junior pop-up desk
This is ingenious. Made from 100 per cent recyclable cardboard, it’s a pop up desk that takes literally seconds to build and can be packed away under the bed or behind the sofa when it’s not in use – perfect if you’re very short on space or don’t want a desk in the bedroom as a permanent fixture. It’s incredibly sturdy with pre-cut holes for power leads. We love that in comes in various versions, including a standing desk. It’s also the ultimate craft project – our six-year-old tester enjoyed decorating hers with paints and stickers. Best of all, you can recycle this desk when you no longer need it, so it won’t end up in landfill. Brilliant.
Scandiborn sebra oakee table
We loved this lightweight, stylish table from Danish brand Sebra. It’s made from sustainably sourced beech wood with oak veneer and powder coated metal legs. Our testers found it easy to assemble and particularly liked the child friendly smooth, rounded edges.
Although there are no shelves or drawers, it’s perfect for little creatives who like to work with a lot of unobstructed space. The simple design means it looks good in any room, and it can quickly double as a coffee table or child’s dinner table when you’ve got guests round. Scandiborn also stock a coordinating Oakee chair and bench to complete the look.
Shields 63.5cm w writing desk
Ideal for a small space, this is a stylish and sturdy modern twist on the old-fashioned schoolroom desk design. We like that it’s small and compact but has plenty of desktop space for an exercise book or worksheet and pencil case. There’s a safety catch on the lid to prevent little fingers from getting hurt and lots of room beneath the desktop – really handy for tidying away school supplies at the end of the day.
Zurleys boys and girls matching desk and stool
There’s a touch of retro style to this matching school style desk and stool. Assembly was a little frustrating, even for our DIY enthusiast, and the materials aren’t the most robust but that does mean, on the upside, that both desk and stool are easy for little ones to move around the room. The surface space on the desk is a decent size and overall, it’s the perfect height, but working on the sloping desk top takes some getting used to – our four-year-old tester likened it to trying to colour in on a slide! However, she really liked the large storage space beneath the desktop lid and had lots of fun hiding stuff and lifting out what she needed.
The verdict: Kids' desks
The Great Little Trading Company’s junior Whittington desk really impressed us. It’s stylish but practical with plenty of storage, and we love that the spare legs extend its life and add value. The X-Rocker borealis official licensed PlayStation gaming desk is an excellent choice for a gaming enthusiast, and the Friska Stockholm-micro sit stand desk deserves a special mention because it’s impressively versatile and the ideal desk for the family to share.
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