If I had my way, I would drastically reduce or even ban homework! Radical I know, but seeing as how Hummingbird Learning world domination is a while off (yet), homework is something that everyone with school going children has to cope with.
Creating a dedicated spot in your home for them to complete their work can help improve focus and develop proper study habits. A really good place to go for inspiration is the Ikea or Argos catalogue. A study nook doesn’t have to a staid, serious place. In fact a fun, quirky desk can make studying a far more pleasurable event, simply because it becomes a place you like and want to be.
To achieve this, here are some tips to create that Dr Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) Spot:
- Lighting: Good light is essential. A good desk lamp coupled with softer overhead lighting works really well.
- Heat: The study nook needs to be warm but take care not to overheat the room as this can make the student drowsy
- Ventilation: Fresh air is really important. If possible, open the windows for a while when the kids are at school. A good supply of oxygen will help the brain remain focused for longer.
- Quiet: While our brain becomes really good at blocking out continuous background sounds over time, it is important to create a calm, quiet study area
- Sockets: When deciding on a great location be sure to consider where the plug points are. You are going to need lots!
#2 Fixtures & Fittings
- Plants: Plants lift the sterile look of a desk, brings actual life to the table and if you use a plant such as a Peace Lily or Spider plant, even increases the oxygen levels in the room, making plants an aid to studying.
- Desk: It is really important to get a desk that suits the child. It doesn’t have to be an office type desk. Have a look in Ikea & Argos for ideas.
- Good Chair: This is vital. Your child is going to be sitting for a long time & needs to have good posture to prevent back problems in the future and also to maximise oxygen intake. If they are young, put a step under the desk for them to rest their feet on. It also help them be more grounded.
- Notice Boards: These are great for keeping reminders, notes & personal items close at hand.
- Storage boxes: Keep everything tidy in cool storage boxes or tins. Catalogues are full of ideas. Convert old boxes or tins you have already into something bespoke to reflect your child’s personality.
- Clock: A silent one – no ticking but an alarm can be handy ! It will help to train your child to work within time segments – vital when doing exams.
- Book shelves: Great for keeping a desk tidy & having reference books & stationery to hand
- Computer: There is no way of getting around this one – computers have become part & parcel of student life. I recommend using a laptop though, that way it can be taken away to stop it becoming a distraction. There are loads of applications, such as Net Nanny, available to block or limit access to websites.
- Printer: Set up the printer at the homework station for ease of access
- WiFi: Be sure to have good internet access at the homework station. If the signal is poor invest in a booster. It will repay itself over and over in hours saved from listening to moaning about bad wifi!
#4 Stationery supplies
- Dictionaries: We may be in the digital age, but I still think old school is best when it comes to dictionaries. Make sure to have ones for foreign language classes and invest in a really good thesaurus dictionary. Nothing beats a thesaurus for vocabulary expansion.
- Timetable: This is where the cork board comes in handy. Have the cork board on the wall in front of the desk and pin the timetable to it. No excuses for not knowing what classes you have tomorrow.
- Calendar: Use a type of calendar that has space for writing and fill in the school events, holidays, exam weeks etc. This forward planning means that you are organised for the year ahead
- Store Supplies: Be prepared! Avoid late night panics when supplies run out and have all of the following in a storage box; tape, staples, paperclips, pencils, biros, paper punch, poly pockets, spare folders/files, printer paper, spare copy books, writing pads & notebooks, Art supplies – glue, glitter, felt-tip pens.
- Desk Supplies: Calculator, maths set, stapler, paperclips, pens, ruler, correction ink. Folder to keep completed work / ongoing projects
Having a defined space to study creates a pattern in your brain. Just as picking up your car keys brings you into a type of automation for driving (for example, without thinking, you automatically go to the driver’s side), sitting at your homework spot immediately tells your brain I’m going studying and I need to focus.
Right now, before the kids go back to school, is the perfect time to create that perfect spot.