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Is a desk in the bedroom a passe idea?

  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

    This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah. Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

    This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah. Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

    This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah. Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)
  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)
  • This June 2014 photo courtesy of Michael & Melissa Kaufman shows the cluttered desk belonging to their ninth-grade daughter, Rebekah.  Although the Kaufmans bought Rebekah the desk so she would have a place to study, she instead uses it as “a repository for the four outfits she tried on earlier that day and rejected,” Melissa says. Rebekah prefers doing homework on her bed. (AP Photo/Michael Kaufman)

Alyssa Kimble, a soon-to-be sixth-grader in White Plains, N.Y., says she uses the desk in her bedroom for “everything” – creating lesson plans for her make-believe school, writing stories and storing stuff.

Everything, that is, except homework.

“Usually, my desk is covered with things, a computer isn’t nearby and my mom isn’t there to help me,” Alyssa says.

So she prefers doing homework at the kitchen table.

Although bedroom desks remain common, many kids don’t use them for their intended purpose.

Thanks to laptop computers and more casual living spaces, they often opt to do homework in kitchens and family rooms, on couches or on beds, turning their desks into depositories for books, toys and crafts.

What that means for study habits depends on who’s doing the work, educators and parents say.

“I could always get my homework done wherever I was. But some kids, especially if they have ADHD or another disability, can benefit from doing homework at a specified location like a desk because it tells them, ‘This is the spot where I focus,’ ” says Ellen Pape, a La Grange, Ill., school reading specialist.

“Separating it from other locations gives kids more of a straightforward definition of expectations,” she says.

Melissa Kaufman of Santa Clara, Calif., says that where her daughters – Rebekah, 14, and Sarah, 11 – do their homework reflects their different needs and study habits.

Kaufman bought Rebekah a desk several years ago because letting her work at the kitchen table in their small house became too hard on the rest of the family.

“It meant nobody could do anything in the kitchen or living room until homework was done because it would be distracting,” she says.

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