Spare the Decorations
Parents sometimes feel the need to set up a bright, cheery, and attractive space that will entice their kids. Actually, that’s not a great idea. A busy decor just creates distractions and makes it difficult for your child to concentrate, an important mental discipline but one that’s difficult to master these days. Opt for deep gray or silver, which are conducive to creativity. Save pictures, posters, mementos, and other memorabilia for another room, and above all, make sure there’s no television or gaming screen nearby to entice them.
Keep the Noise Down
Young people can easily be distracted by a noisy environment. If your kitchen tends to be a noisy room (it is for most people), setting a child up to study at the kitchen table will only create a challenge to concentration and leave your child wondering what’s for dinner or if it’s snack time yet. It’s hard to focus on learning if someone’s slamming cabinet doors, unloading the dishwasher, or getting ice out of the refrigerator dispenser, so steer clear of the kitchen. The game room or TV room aren’t good ideas either (though kids would probably disagree). Look for a quiet corner somewhere that’s separated from the busiest parts of the house, and if it’s still hard to find a calm and relaxing spot, consider investing in a set of noise-canceling headphones or a set that produces white noise to drown out all the racket.
Make It Study-Specific
Once you’ve found a spot that’s quiet enough, create a study-specific space that includes all the tools your child needs to make the most of his study time. The goal is to work and study efficiently, and that’s a lot easier to do if you have adequate lighting, a desk or table large enough for everything you need, plenty of supplies (pens, pencils, etc.). Ideally, your child should be able to plop right down and jump into it without having to forage for the items they need or ask you to make a supply run.
Phone- and Internet-Free Zone
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops can be terrible distractions for anyone who’s trying to focus their thoughts. This can be one of the hardest parts of maintaining a distraction-free space, but you must separate your kid from his electronic devices for as long as he’s in study time. It’s just too tempting not to periodically check whether a friend has texted or instant-messaged or to see what’s happening on Facebook. If a computer or tablet is necessary for study purposes, be sure to block any websites that could cause a problem.
Study and More
For many children, learning is about more than just studying textbooks and school notes. A study space should be conducive to extracurricular activities as well, including music, art, science or technological pursuits, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities. A budding musician may need a little extra space to practice their instrument, so include the necessary musical accessories, such as a music stand and metronome.
Think of creating a quiet, distraction-less space as an investment in your child’s future. These are the years when kids develop key skills that have a lot to do with their academic success and maturity. It’s well worth taking away screen time and sequestering your child from distractions for a little while each day.