As parents, we can be forgiven for being just a little anxious about whether the time our children are spending on home study is actually productive. Are they really in the best environment to achieve their study goals? This is especially relevant with the increasing use of PC based learning from an early age (and the impact that can have on your posture/health). Here are our top tips on how to create a productive home study place for your child:
Seating and desktop position – There are a few must haves: an ability to rest your elbows on the table and do all the tasks whilst keeping a good posture.
Clear Space – The desk and surrounding area should be a clutter free zone. Remove the distractions, such as that interesting stack of magazines. Consider buying a small self-assembly storage unit or book shelf to achieve this.
Lighting – It’s more about creating a consistent shadow-less zone than an actual lighting level. Daylight is OK so long as strong sunlight can be defused by a blind. Choose a desk light that your child can easily move the actual light source, such as an anglepoise type design.
Environment – If the room is too warm, attention can wander. But be wary of creating drafts due to sitting in the direct path of an air con unit.
Noise – It’s all about unwanted distractions! You may have to create a ‘noise free’ period each day, when homework gets done (especially if you have children of different age groups). If your child has to wear headphones to deal with the noise, something’s wrong.
Filing systems – Consider a small filing system to help your child become organized and more systematic in their work routines. Start them young. They’ll thank you later.
Timers – Many students (particularly teens) work well by setting allocated times to do set pieces of work. Having a dedicated alarm-clock for study supports this. However, this is not their Smart phone (see below).
Drinks and snacks – Always have a water bottle on standby. Optional are a local supply of nuts, fruit, protein bars for when concentration wanes. It’s more about time of day and their specific eating needs.
‘My productive place is’ … not always the bedroom desk. It may be a dining or kitchen table. Find out why your child prefers a particular location. This will teach you a lot about the points above. Work with them on this list.
‘A tidy desk is a tidy mind’ … but maybe sometimes this is not the case. Be sensitive to the fact that your child is learning for themselves how best to create their special working place. It can take time and experimentation.
The desks of others … Children gain a lot from watching other kids work productively. Do they have a friend with a particularly good home working set up? What’s it like? Your child’s peer group is possibly more influential than you (or this list). Lots of research has proved this to be the case.
Smart phones - These just don’t mix with concentrated study (but you know that!) Leave them in the hall, switched off. Good luck!