1. Find a quiet place. Some children learn best in almost total silence; others prefer ambient music or sounds drifting in from an open window as they work. However, no one can concentrate in a noisy, chaotic environment. A bedroom is often a good place for a study area. Some kids find it difficult to focus in a room they associate with sleep, though, so consider setting aside part of your living room or even the play room as a study area.
2. Work with your child’s preferences. While a standard desk and chair can work, some children learn best when they get comfortable with their books. A day bed and a laptop might work better for your child than the conventional desk, and that’s fine. If reading while lounging encourages a child to devour assigned chapters, then be flexible about the study space and outfit it with cozy furniture. To make a less traditional study area still feel distinct from the rest of the room, use decor to mark it as its own space. A wall calendar, bookshelves, and space for a laptop or tablet computer help create the feeling that this is a space for work, not play.
3. Keep it organized. You know how difficult it is to focus when you’re surrounded by clutter, and your child probably feels the same way. A neat study space is free of distractions that could otherwise derail a study session. For children who are easily sidetracked, an organized study area is a must. Older kids can keep their own desks neat, but help younger kids by giving them organizers that remind them where items are kept. Color-coded stickers on shelves or labels on drawers let kids remember at a glance where paper and pencils go. This rolling cart has translucent storage bins that allow kids to see the contents and choose where items belong.
4. Be careful about digital distractions. Computers are incredibly valuable tools for students, but they’re also an open window to a million distractions from homework. Parental lockout features can help kids stay on track and off their Facebook pages when it’s time to do homework. Another solution: Give kids a timer and allow them a few minutes of play for achieving their study goals. When kids know they can check their email or chat with friends in half an hour, it becomes less tempting to become distracted now.
5. Provide ample lighting. Task lighting helps avoid eye-strain and allows studying children to stay focused longer. Ideally, natural light keeps the work area bright. Indirect sunlight works best to avoid glare; if necessary, use curtains to filter light that is too bright. If natural lighting isn’t available, a desk lamp should be slightly lower than eye level and cast a spotlight directly on the page or keyboard.
Give your child’s study habits room to grow with a designated study space and watch the positive effect it can have on grades.