Back to school means back to homework for most kids. For many parents it also means asking, pleading, nagging and demanding that their kids get to it. But getting your kids to hit the books when they get home could be as easy as reorganizing their study space, or providing a special spot for studying in the first place.
Does your child have a comfortable place to study? Some kids prefer a traditional desk, while others may be more comfortable working in a lounge chair or even propped up against pillows on their bed with a laptop. The key is giving them a choice, says Jackie Barry, Interior Design program coordinator at The Art Institute of Houston-North, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston. “Talk to your children about how they like to study and what motivates them,” she says, adding that when the kids are comfortable, they’ll be more productive.
If your child prefers a traditional study space, but your budget is tight, a new desk does not have to break your piggy bank. “You can create a desk with two construction horses and a board,” says Seyavash Zohoori, academic director for Interior Design at The Art Institute of Salt Lake City. The best part is that this desk is mobile, so if your child wants a change of scenery, moving the study space is a snap. But do invest in a chair with good lumbar support.
Once you settle on a comfortable spot, remove the distractions, like the TV. Also, get rid of one of the biggest distractions of all – clutter. A messy room can be unsettling and leave kids unproductive, advises Jeannette Dubyak, professor of Education Leadership at Argosy University in Atlanta. But there are plenty of organizational and storage options, says Catherine Azcarate, Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of Colorado. “There are so many storage solutions out there – use them. You can find an organizer for just about any item you have in your study space,” she says. “The more organized the space, the more you want to be in it.”
Know what to keep and what to throw out, adds Barry. If you bring something new into the study space, perhaps it’s time to get rid of something old. Barry also suggests keeping a clock and a calendar in the room to reinforce organization and time management. “Make sure it’s an analog clock,” adds Dubyak. That way your kids can start to gauge how time passes and really see what 15 minutes or an hour means.
And make sure you have enough and the right kind of light to get work done. If your kids study when they get home from school in the afternoon, natural light may be best, says Zohoori. What if the kids study when the sun goes down? “Invest in an LED or even OLED light,” he suggests. “They are eco-friendly and can significantly cut down on the eye strain you’ll get with fluorescents.”