I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
– Desiree Panlilio
Creating a 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. Have your teen tell you what they want in a study space, and it does not include “doing homework on my bed” or “I can watchDisney+ at the same time”. It is having 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 gives them a sense of independence and accountability in creating the space they will work in. A few talking points about creating that study space.
First, where is your teen going to study? The study space needs to be a designated space. Not the dining room table. That is not going to work. A shared space creates distraction. The dining table where you eat creates a time constraint that involves setting up and taking down the space for meals. A desk placed somewhere that everyone can agree upon is the best choice. Your teen’s 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 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.
“What about background sounds and noise”, 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.
Noise canceling earbuds of some sort make it easy for your teen to listen to music and not distract others around them
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. Make sure there are extra chargers with a power source. This way your teen does not have to go in search of their chargers, the one used for studying is always at the ready. If possible, have a wall calendar or desk calendar to track assignments, athletics, and social engagements. This 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 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 and to do something “fun” together. Building the study space together is a chance to build the relationship.
Another valuable tool is the perfect planner, and the one designed by Encouraging Teens is the perfect planner. It allows to create schedules, manage time, write and evaluate SMART goals and ongoing reminders to celebrate accomplishments and learn from hurdles. Pick one up for your teen.