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School’s in for a lot of the country! Let’s all start classes off on the right foot with some organization!
One of the most important things for a student to have is their own devoted workspace; an environment where they can go and write or study without too many interruptions. This allows them to focus solely on their assigned tasks and not get distracted by the things around them. The study area should be different for each student according to their particular study habits (or lack of them) but here are a few points that are essential.
Everything at Their Fingertips
This could be the most important part of having a really effective and efficient desk. In order to be really effective, minimize the chances of having to get up every half hour to go looking for a ruler, pencil, or book. It helps maintain a train of thought, while at the same time reducing the “settling back in” period.
When I was studying or writing papers, I always found it helpful to have tools like a calculator, paper, or office supplies on the right-hand side of my desk, with books and reference materials lined up on the left. This helped keep me focused because I knew where everything was and could reach and locate the tools I needed without having to look away from what I was doing.
Your kids will benefit from that. Otherwise, they will use every excuse to get up and find other things to do as they look for what they need.
While post-it notes are great, they can be far too distracting if your monitor or desktop is covered with “to do” lists. It can just get overwhelming and lead to feeling like you may never get a handle on things. If you see a pile of work that needs to be done, the most typical reaction is to rush through everything. That’s typically a recipe for disaster.
Keep pending assignments and tasks out of view in a drawer or inbox. Pull each assignment out when it is time to work on it. As they’re completed, the sense of satisfaction when moving them into the “completed” pile helps motivate while keeping the feeling of having too much to do at a minimum.
Have a Beverage (and a Snack) Nearby
Keep a reusable water bottle– filled — nearby while your child is working at their desk. It eliminates one reason for unfinished work — the frequent request for something to drink. You can substitute something else but I always suggest water because my children don’t always drink enough. Also, have a snack nearby — and try to make it healthier or healthy as possible. A big sugar-laden treat — while delicious — is often not conducive to studying.
For people who drink coffee, it may be helpful to have coffee nearby. I — a non-coffee drinker — always found it helpful to have a bottle of water or cup of tea next to my desk. The two-cup coffee pots are ideal for a quick boost, and you don’t have to get away from your work to take a bit of a break when you’ve earned it. There are multiple single-serve coffee makers out there that have everything you need and can make single-serving coffee or cappuccino for a quick boost.
Either way, having your beverages/snacks nearby keeps your child (or you!) from getting sidetracked by something else in the kitchen when coming down for a drink or food.
Less Entertainment, More Working
In high school, college, and med school, there was no TV near my desk. No music or other media was on in the room so that I could concentrate. Having complete quiet was easier then!
For today’s kids, a lot of the studying involves a computer or tablet. This means that there are a variety of other distractions already in their hands! There are programs that can block access to different programs that you may not want your kids to visit while studying. If they aren’t using electronics, you can also limit internet access to that room. Many of the service providers offer the ability to turn off the internet in specific areas.
Generally, the child’s success will depend on trust, checking in on your child, and self-interest in getting the work done. Similar to how we have to get our work done these days in the age of infinite distractions.
Peace and Quiet Needed
Work with your child to make the study area calm and peaceful. No strobe lights or talking stuffed toys! You want to make the area be someplace that your child is willing to be without making too much fun! Comfy chairs, soft pillows, and soothing colors are a nice place to start.
It can be good to have a plant or fishbowl near the desk. Many professors and teachers have recommended having something that can encourage a more tranquil environment which aids in focusing on the subject at hand. Betta fish are always a popular choice, because of their slow tranquil movements. Similarly, a potted plant can help in much the same way. Something lush and green can have a very soothing effect on what can otherwise be a very stressful setting.
If you add a living thing to the study area, you might have to take ownership of keeping said creature or plant alive. Or you can use it as another teaching experience in caring for the fish or plants.
Good study and work habits are mostly based on creating a positive, focused environment with minimal distractions. The ability to focus on the task at hand, reducing excuses for leaving the area, and creating an organized method of handling the tasks that need to be accomplished are always sure-fire ways to make sure that you or your child use your time effectively and get stuff done. The ability to use time effectively can make or break a student’s academic career and sets the tone for future endeavors.
You notice that organizing your child’s study area has a lot of similarities to organizing your workspace. There are more posts about office organization in my blog which I will repost with additional info over the next few weeks.
Loving Life — The Reboot!