Succeeding in school is good for kids – it builds competence and confidence and provides a foundation of skills, patient information and attitudes that can have lifelong positive impact. Although there are many factors that determine just how academically successful a child will be, parental support will never go to waste. Parents can encourage responsibility, good study habits and other skills and attitudes conducive to achievement. They can also provide the necessary emotional and physical space in which their child can apply him or herself to his or her studies. In other words, they can provide a quiet, undisturbed and pleasant study environment. What the child does with it, is beyond the parent’s control. But having provided the learning opportunity, they have certainly done their part to help their child succeed.
Below are the basic components of a study space conducive for learning:
1. Desk and Chair
A lot of school kids end up studying on the bed, sofa, floor, dining table and so on – places that may not be conducive at all for studying. When possible, it is preferable to provide a desk for the purpose of study and homework. The desk should be wide enough to fit three books all opened at the same time. This area would allow a child to cross check information from two sources while jotting down notes.
Of course, it will also be necessary to provide a chair for the desk. A library chair is a perfect example of a chair that is conducive for studying. No arm rests. No casters. No wheels. A cushion may be good to ease discomfort of sitting for long hours, but it should be firm rather than soft and fluffy – study time is not nap time!
2. Physical Conditions: Adequate Lighting and Sound
Adequate lighting is important as too much or too little can provoke headaches and eye strain. In addition to the bedroom light, an adjustable desk lamp so be provided so that the angle of the light can be changed as needed.
In terms of sound, it is a myth that kids study well when there is absolute silence. While it is true that disturbance from other people including television noise can make distractions, some kids need noise to study. Give your child his own music player so he/she can decide what sounds go with the studying.
3. Personal Touch
Finding a perfect place to study is a matter of personal taste. While most people think that to get the most concentration, the study environment should be space, new research suggests that individual preferences must be taken into consideration. While actual disturbance should always be absent, comfort items can sometimes help some people focus. For instance, some kids find concentration is facilitated by having a fishbowl near them. Some are relaxed by the presence of favorite photos, stuffed animals or other nicknacks.
4. Storage Area and Display Shelves
Storage shelves, drawers or cupboards near the desk help keep papers organized and functional. Items that are crucial for homework and study (i.e. textbooks, notebooks, paper, pens, staplers, paper clips, highlighters, yellow sticky pads, rulers, calculators and other supplies) should ideally be at arms reach. A cork-board, whiteboard or other bulletin board can also be useful for keeping track of to-do’s, calendars, appointments and deadlines. A separate space might be provided for displaying evidence of academic accomplishment and success – a place to pin marked papers, report cards, completed projects and certificates of accomplishment. Feedback can make continued success easier and easier.