A guest post by Paige A. Mitchell
Designing a space at home for concentration can be beneficial to everyone, whether you’re a parent who’s trying to create an A+ learning environment for your child or if you, yourself, could use a quiet home office. Here are four clever ways to improve your at-home learning zone by minimizing distractions (and no, the answer is not a fidget spinner).
Ditch the devices
In our digital age, we all have the tendency to turn to our technology after a hard day’s work. Kids rush to the TV straight after school while adults scroll through social media as soon as they get a chance to sit down. This 20-minute break quickly snowballs into an hour-long break and soon you’re rushing to get dinner on the table and kids in the bath and no one gets as much sleep as they should.
Instead of taking a break as soon as they get home, many children will find it easier to stay in a studious mindset by getting started on homework before they’re allowed TV or tablet time.
Making this shift won’t be easy, but parents can make it a little more bearable by arranging a vibrant but nutritious after-school snack, like ants on a log. Introducing a star chart from which they’ll reap rewards after five consecutive days of homework completion is also an ace of an idea. This digital detox may be easier if the whole family gets on board. Use a multi-device charging station to dock all devices in one central place during study hour.
Organize your workspace
Eighty-four percent of survey-takers reported feeling stressed at home due to disorganization. Clutter causes a slew of health issues from increased anxiety to unhealthy eating habits. The New Year is always a popular time to declutter, but it should remain an important part of your routine throughout the year.
You can start small by keeping your workspace clear at all times—whether that’s the kitchen table or an office desk. Toss junk mail, keep food and grocery lists off the countertop, and invest in a basket for corralling toys.
Address annoying sounds
Perhaps the most torturous thing a parent could do to a child who does not want to come inside, sit still, and do homework is forcing your child to listen to other kids playing. First, position work surfaces (be it a desk, countertop, or kitchen table) out of sight from the playground or backyard. Then, shut windows if neighbors are playing outside and enforce quiet time if you have other children who do not have to endure homework.
For parents or hypersensitive children, listening to a dishwasher continuously clank or your old washing machine rumble through its spin cycle can get under anyone’s skin, let alone someone who can’t concentrate in noisy environments. Nip these noises in the bud by making it your personal project to see to it that broken appliances get fixed this weekend.
On the other hand, silence may be too stark for someone to produce high-quality work. White noise or music on low volume may actually stimulate a learner’s mind. Classical music, especially, has been used as a productivity tool inside and outside of the classroom.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Some distractions also lie within. Snack cravings, hyperactivity, and sleep deprivation can be just as distracting as the noises, clutter, and devices around us. Preparing healthy, after-school snacks will hush growling tummies until dinnertime.
Encouraging kids to play outside after homework is done is also a way for them to finally release the energy that’s been building since recess. Playing fetch with the dog or going on a walk with the family is not only good exercise, but you’ll all get a healthy dose of fresh air and Vitamin D from sunlight.
After fueling up with fruits and veggies and blowing off some steam, the last ingredient to a healthy lifestyle is a good night’s sleep. Seventy-five percent of high school students alone get less than eight hours of sleep at night, according to the American Academy of Sleep. Inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on a developing body and cause memory issues, a lack of attention, and mood swings. The National Sleep Foundation reports students ages five to 10 should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night.
Photo from Unsplash
I am, once again, partnering with Angela Watson to help promote her 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club. It’s an online professional development program that has already helped more than 32,000 teachers take control of their time and stay focused on what matters most. The next cohort starts in July, and the Club has been updated to cover emerging best practices for the changes ahead. Click here to join!