I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
– Thomas Jefferson
Creating a specific space for studying and doing homework is a critical process in combining comfort, productivity, and compromise. Yes compromise, it is a conversation for parents and teens to have. For your teen to tell you what they want in a study space and then to have a conversation about what is realistic and how to make the study space an environment that your teen can be productive in and you as the parent can support. Involving teens in the creation of their own study space is one way to give them a sense of independence. Let’s think of a few talking points about creating that study space.
First, where is it going to be? The study space needs to be designated space, not the dining room table or the pool table, that really is not going to work. It is a desk placed somewhere that everyone can agree upon. Your teens bedroom is probably the most logical place. A desk that is designated for homework is essential. It is not where laundry or anything else is piled on. Afterall, none of us would have our work space crowded with laundry, jewelry and the mail.
Next, think about lighting. A study space that is not lit properly may make your teen feel sleepy and put strain on their eyes. Make sure their screen contrast is comfortable to look at, use a small desk lamp to light your immediate study area, and a larger lamp or overhead light to light the rest of the room. Natural light is fine, but make sure the temptation to look out of the window doesn’t distract your teen from their studies.
Sound, what you may ask? Your teen may be the kind of person who enjoys a little background noise when studying. However, the most important thing to do is make sure the noise is their noise i.e. music that your teen has decided on. Your teen can create study music playlists for variable lengths of time. The question of whether or not listening to music while studying can boost your performance remains hotly debated. I feel that this is a preference that parents and teens can decide on. What you don’t want is noise from your neighbor, traffic outside or television. Those can be distractions, so try to minimize this as much as you can.
Put the phone and distractions away. I often have teens make their laptop their work computer, no social media apps including Netflix and YouTube. Your teen then has no distractions keeping them from studying. Make sure that with the phone and distractions gone that all the other supplies your teen will need are in their study space. Keep traditional school supplies (pens, paper, books) in a designated area on the desk or in a desk drawer. Also, make sure your laptop or tablet charger is nearby. If possible, have a wall calendar or desk calendar to track assignments, athletics and social engagements. It allows your teen to see what is coming up and to create motivation to get the work done.
These are just a few thoughts on creating that specific study area. The idea of a study space allows your teen to get into the mindset, “that is where I study, I focus and I work toward the academic goals I have written for the semester or quarter.” Creating the study space with your teen is an opportunity to talk about the environment they want to create but it is also showing that you want to be part of and want to help them to create the success that they want to see in their lives.