What is the Best Environment for Learning at Home?
Many parents feel that children receive more homework today than they did in previous generations. A recent study by the Brookings’ Brown Center on Education Policy reported that the after-school assignment load has not actually changed in the past thirty years. The study revealed that the average elementary student has about 30-45 minutes of homework every evening, while high school students enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) an average of one-hour per day. It may simply feel longer to parents, after a busy day.
Children and young adults through college need to have the right environment for studying at home, whether independently, with a group or with a tutor. We’ve gathered a number of tips to help you design the most effective work and study space to help your child focus and succeed.
1. Designate the Space
Where do your children do their homework? It might be on the couch in the living room, in their bedroom, or in the kitchen depending on the day. However, there is a tangible benefit for families to designate a specific space for study and learning, according to Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Certain areas of the home are filled with distractions. Even if the television is off, the association between the living room and recreation is strong enough, that it can make focus more difficult for children. Similarly, the privacy of the bedroom may also not be the best place for tutoring or homework, as it is full of things children would rather be doing than homework.
If possible, create a formal desk in a quiet area of the house and make it a quiet zone, where children can focus on completing homework without interruption.
2. Lock Down Personal Devices and Distractions
It is important to give children a break between school and homework, or scheduled tutoring. To help children make the most out of their after-school learning, parents may consider locking down personal devices like smartphones, tablets or laptops until homework is done.
After a day at school, children can experience “screen fatigue” if they are over-indulging in personal devices or gaming, and the exhaustion can not only impede their ability to study and complete work, but it can derail healthy sleep, and lead to chronic fatigue.
3. Learn in Natural Light and Take Breaks
Did you know that natural light enhances our ability to learn and retain information? Lighting in general has a profound impact on productivity and attentiveness (there is a reason everyone wants the window seat). Learn more about some of the health and learning benefits that are impacted by studying in naturally lit areas.
A five-minute break to move around, or have a healthy snack is appropriate every thirty-minutes, to keep your child engaged and alert. If tutoring or homework lasts longer than an hour, it is important to schedule the breaks, or use a timer to help children focus in smaller, more manageable bursts of learning.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is to teach them how to manage their time, and maintain a schedule and routine, when it comes to after-school classwork and tutoring. Take the time to create a space for success, and a habit for organized learning to help your child succeed.