Guest post by Susan Good from Retired Educator
Kids today have more to fascinate and entertain them than ever before. Gaming and virtual reality technologies provide youngsters (and adults) with endless hours of entertainment and indulgences in fantasy. Television has evolved into a device for streaming an endless array of channels and providing access to media in previously unimaginable ways. Kids communicate in real time through smartphones that are seldom far from their reach. But media in all its forms represent a tremendous distraction from the acquisition of mental disciplines that are central to a child’s education and overall development.
Parents are, to say the least, challenged to keep these distractions at bay when it comes to establishing good study habits. Discipline is important, but not as heavily in the traditional sense of compliance or punishment as might have been the case once upon a time. Today, kids need to be engaged and taught to understand that school and personal habits that will help them excel academically are resoundingly in their long-term interest. Consistency, comfort, and cooperation are the keys.
Turning the World Off
Creating a distraction-free learning space is about more than making sure children are concentrating on studying for tomorrow’s math test or working on next week’s science project. It’s part of an investment in their future. Getting good grades, getting into a good college, and performing well from year to year are a function of focused and disciplined study. You can’t impart these values if your kids are doing schoolwork while watching SpongeBob Squarepants or instant messaging with friends about the events of the school day and what they plan to wear to school tomorrow.
Establish set hours for homework and study every night. During that time, all handheld devices, gaming consoles, and television remotes should be turned off and put away until all work has been done. If internet access is necessary for homework, make sure instant messaging is turned off on the computer and that other distracting sites are inaccessible. Make it clear that if all work is completed and done thoroughly, they may have access to media until bedtime.
Set Up A Quiet Place for Study
A productive studying and reading area should have ample space for all books, pencils, pens, calculators and other academic tools that may be necessary. It should also face away from distractions like televisions and doorways so that comings and goings to, from and within the home don’t disrupt concentration. If possible, each child should have their own individual space that is set up to help them maximize the time. Try to avoid wasting time looking for study aids and tools that should be kept within easy reach at all times. Part of developing good study habits is learning to make the most of each study session.
Positioned for Success
Ergonomic experts will tell you that where and in what position one studies has a lot to do with how much information is retained and how successful the outcome will be. Kids have a tendency to become bored after a while and switch to different locations and positions. For instance, a half hour sitting upright at a desk can quickly turn into an hour lying on the couch or sitting cross-legged on the floor, both of which are not optimal study positions. The natural tendency when lying down is to relax and get sleepy rather than actively cover material and take notes, which are essential study habits. Bean bag chairs are a great option because kids think they’re fun, and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes that make them easy to work into a variety of spaces.
Establishing a comfortable, efficient, and productive learning space is key to your child’s academic performance. It’s also essential for teaching study habits that will remain with them for life. Collaborate with your child on finding a spot that’s free of distractions and comfortable for them.