by Sam Radbil, Sr. Communications Manager, ABODO:
It seems like, every year, educators and parents revive the longstanding debate about homework in America’s classrooms. Is it necessary? Is it beneficial? How much is too much?
Whether you support the “10-minute rule” -- that’s 10 minutes of homework for every grade level -- or you're against it, your child probably has at least some homework each night. However, faced with distractions, both digital (phone, tablet, computer, or television) and analog (the siren call of the backyard), today’s kids might have a hard time concentrating.
There are many ways to deal with this, but one of the most effective is to give your child a dedicated space in which to do homework. An environment free from distraction and designed with a student in mind can have marked results on student performance. Here are four tips from the apartment experts at ABODO for creating a stress-free homework zone.
1. Separate, Don’t Isolate
What usually happens when you leave your kids alone in their room with instructions to clean it? That’s what we thought -- it rarely gets done. Still, forcing your kids to sit at the kitchen table so you can watch them doesn’t solve the problem of distraction either. Better, then, to embrace something between total isolation and total supervision: a study area that is near to a center of family life, but also slightly removed (and not in your child’s bedroom). Your children should be close enough to feel supervised, but not so close that they can feel your breath on the back of their necks. Proximity to family life is reassuring and a spur to finishing work.
So, carve out a corner of the formal dining room if your family doesn’t normally eat meals there. Do you have a guest room? A home office? Give your child a corner of it, and keep the door cracked, not closed. You want your child to feel ownership over the space, but not to feel completely separated from the rest of the house (and family).
2. Let Your Child Play Decorator
You won’t be doing the homework, will you? So, don’t pick out the mug where your young scholar will keep the pencils. Allowing your children to make some decorative decisions will make them feel ownership of the space. So, even if you hate that poster of LeBron James that your child wants to hang over the desk, hold your tongue. Encourage kids to make their space their own: Studies have shown that adult workers who personalize their space are more productive, more motivated, and more able to concentrate on tasks. Your children may not be earning, but they sure are working. So, let them have some say about how the way their workspace looks.
3. Bright Colors and Lots of Light
Let your kid pick out the desk and some decorations, but make sure there is a lamp. Also, if possible, situate his workspace in a place that gets plenty of natural light. A 2014 study at Northwestern showed a strong correlation between exposure to light and productivity, sleep habits, and quality of life. Your little scholar will need light -- and plenty of it -- to adequately focus on schoolwork.
4. Stock the Space with Small Comforts (But Not Too Many)
Maybe your budding biochemist likes Teddy Grahams. Maybe your child's tastes run to Swedish Fish and LaCroix. Whatever the (reasonable) pleasure, stocking a workspace with a few treats can ease the transition from play to work and may keep your child at the desk longer. The treats don’t even have to be food: An array of small notebooks, a collection of quirky pens, or a paperweight in the shape of a favorite organic compound will all say to your child that homework doesn’t have to be a punishment.
Of course, following these tips won’t ensure a future Nobel Prize…or even a 5 on the Advanced Placement test. But no matter what your family dynamic or home's architecture is, establishing a dedicated workspace for your child validates their work, sending the message that intellectual effort and self-discipline is worthwhile and important. That’s a lesson that will persist long after they've mastered the multiplication table.
Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.