Turn your home into the ideal study zone

April 19, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Students study all over the place — on the couch, in their beds, at the kitchen table or even at their desks.

Creating an environment for your children to learn at home can be as easy as A-B-C. Contributed

The optimal study zone will have everything a student needs to work, and it won’t have distractions, such as a TV or a soft pillow inviting the student to take a nap. Parents and students can learn a few tips when organizing a study area that fits the needs of the busy academic.

Lemon smells nice; trash doesn’t

A recent study of 5,000 students showed that students in better smelling homes earned better grades. The study, conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsh and the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, found that top performing students — those with grade averages of A or B — used words like lemony, minty or clean to describe the smell of their childhood homes. Students with grades of C or below tended to associate negative smells, such as urine, fecal matter or mold, with their homes.

While the smell likely isn’t the root cause of academic success, Hirsh said there is probably a positive connection between a tidy home and the type of stable family environment that promotes academic success.

Study near a window

In 1978, researchers designed two types of study zones — one messy and windowless and the other modern with a window overlooking a courtyard — and tested two groups of students with a list of 40 vocabulary words.

The students in the modern room outperformed their peers in the messy room. Since then, other studies have confirmed that studying near a window helps students. In 2008, the University of Washington found that students studying next to a window view of Drumheller Fountain showed fewer signs of stress than students in a windowless room, or in a room with a plasma screen showing nature photographs.

Silence is golden

Once a student has a clean desk — optimally near a window or a soothing location — students should resist the urge to listen to music.

“IPods, music in the background, even classical music — which some parents think is a good idea — can be a distraction,” Brian Riddick, owner of Issaquah’s Huntington Learning Center, said. “What I found when I went to college is I couldn’t study at a place with U2 in the background because I would start drumming away.”

If students feel they can concentrate through the music, by all means, let them, he said. But sometimes “they put in something that they like, and it tends to be more of a participation thing than a background noise thing,” he warned.

Other tips

Many students need access to the Internet for homework assignments. While online resources are a haven for research, certain websites, such as Facebook and YouTube, are a constant distraction.

The best way to handle tempting time wasters is to simply ask students to limit their time on social or entertainment sources. If not, “Pretty soon, you’re hearing noises from a computer game or you get a Facebook update on your phone from your son upstairs,” Riddick said.

Sumitha Reddy, center director at the Issaquah Mathnasium, advised students to put all of their supplies at their study table. That way, students don’t have to constantly run errands around the house, potentially getting distracted along the way when looking for a notebook or an eraser.

“You can have small cups to put everything in,” like pencils, she said. “Cleanness is next to godliness. If you look at the way she is organized, you can tell how good of a student she is.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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