Making sure your student has a productive study area in the home is essential to helping them be able to do the best work possible. When they come home from school, they need a good area they can use to sit, do homework and study. A designated, familiar space is especially important for students with learning disabilities, since they can benefit the most from routine and structure.
With the school year upon us again, here are a few tips we think can help you set up a creative, dynamic work area for your student.
Designate an area for studying
It’s very tempting to simply let your student work in their bedroom. It’s simple, easy and it’s a familiar location.
Bedrooms, however, can be highly distracting, especially for a students with learning disabilities. TVs, radios, MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, computers, magazines and books can too easily become powerful visual or auditory distractions, tempting and distracting your child away from their studies.
If you have the space in your house, try and create a designated study area. It can be another room, a nook or even a quiet corner of your living room or den. The important thing is that the space is as distraction-free as possible, can be somewhat pleasant to be in for extended periods and that it has good lighting.
Remember: Location, Location, Location
Make sure the study area in a location where your student won’t easily become distracted, such as away from the television and/or telephone.
The area should have some space to let students pace or stretch their legs if they feel they need to get up and move.
Try not to set up the study area in a basement, garage or other really isolated, uncomfortable and/or unwelcoming location since it can cause negative feelings towards the study area and your student may rush their work simply to get out of there.
Find the right desk and chair
A good desk and chair can be very important to your student’s learning. After all, they’ll be spending a good amount of time there during the year!
The desk table should be smooth and flat to let students to spread out work materials. Particularly for students with difficulties in organization, it should also be large enough that their papers, when spread out, don’t get mixed up or fall off the desk and get lost.
When picking a chair, it’s important to pick one that is comfortable and protects their back. Look for a chair that has adjustable height (ideally 16-21 inches off the ground), that is wide enough to be comfortable (17-20 inches), has armrests and has an inward curve to provide lumbar support in order to prevent slouching and lower back strain.
Get some storage options
Cluttered areas are frustrating, distracting and can cause a student with learning disabilities to lose important papers.
Some basic, inexpensive shelving near your student’s desk can help them keep all their necessary study tools on hand. It will help your student keep their study notebooks, books and printouts in one area.
Accordion file folders are a good idea if your student gets a lot of handouts at school, since they’ll keep papers separated and take up very little storage space. They also come in multiple colors, so you can easily divide them by subject!
Get the (high speed) net
While it may sound like a distraction, the internet has become an invaluable tool for learning and your child’s study space should have internet access. With the net at their fingertips, students can access helpful videos, explanations, worksheets and get online tutoring if they need it.
Just make sure you check in every so often to make sure your student isn’t being distracted by it.
Lay down some ground rules
Mark the study area as a “cell phone free zone” to prevent distracting calls from their friends. This is especially important if your student has a lot of apps and games on their phone.
If the study area is going to be in an area that has a lot of foot traffic, make it a rule that other family members know to respect the area and not go near it when your student is trying to study. This will help prevent undue aggravation and distraction from family members and help keep the area a designated study space.
Every so often, try and check in with your child to make sure they’re not feeling overwhelmed or abandoned and that they’re not distracted from their work.