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Create a Study Space & Improve Learning in the Home

By on Dec 15, 2017

When students are in school, it's with the purpose of learning and expanding their minds. In order for them to retain the information that they're taught, they must have a place in their home that's conducive to studying. That means creating an area that improves productivity and decreases distractions. This is important because studies have shown that distractions, particularly interruptions due to technology, decrease cognition, with distracted students scoring 20% lower on standard cognition testing. In addition, a study by a professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills showed that students could not go more than six minutes without using social media or some form of technology while studying. Whether a person is in college and creating a study space for themselves or they're a parent trying to make the ideal environment for their child, it's important to know what does and does not make a space ideal for learning.

Clear Space, Clear Mind

When creating a study space in one's home, the area should be kept clean and well-organized. A neat desk and shelving reduce the amount of time that students waste looking for misplaced or hidden items such as textbooks, pens, and other office supplies. As a result, studying becomes more efficient, and the decrease in clutter helps keep students' thoughts focused on studying. To keep this space tidy, one should get rid of any loose or unneeded papers and make sure that waste paper baskets are kept empty. In addition, one should also keep their files, both digital and hard-copy, organized.

Background Noise

While background noise can be a major hindrance for some students, it's helpful for others. Even some researchers suggest that playing music while studying is beneficial to learning. Ideally, people should listen to the music that best helps them study. Researchers in both the U.S. and France have found that classical music can positively affect students' assessment scores, but classical music is not necessarily ideal for every student. Music without lyrics generally offers less distraction, particularly when one's homework involves writing. Ambient noise or ambient music is another option for studying that is peaceful and less distracting, and it can help block out external noise.

No Digital Distractions

Because digital distractions are such a major problem for students of all ages, non-essential electronic devices should be removed from one's study space. In a Kaiser Family Foundation study, one in three of the participating students said they listened to or watched some form of media while studying. This behavior directs students' focus away from their study material and hinders their ability to retain information. While a computer or a laptop is typically a necessity when studying, it can be helpful to install software that prohibits access to social media sites. Cell phones are a tremendous distraction, too, even when powered off. At a minimum, mobile devices should be turned off, and ideally, they should be removed from one's study space. Other digital distractions include video game players and the television.

Don't Study Where You Sleep

The bedroom may seem like the ideal place for studying, but it can be too comfortable of a spot for many students. Because bedrooms are where people go to bed and rest, their bodies automatically associate these spaces with relaxation and sleep, and as a result, they may end up dozing off rather than doing their homework as intended. Instead of a bedroom, one should choose a study environment in a location where they are less likely to fall asleep. Popular study areas in most homes include dens or home offices or any room that's away from beds and other comfortable furniture where they may be tempted to sleep. The kitchen can also be a good studying spot, as long as the kitchen isn't in use by others at the time.

Break Time

Studying can be overwhelming, particularly when done in long stretches. To improve one's ability to concentrate and retain more information, people should schedule break times. Ideally, there should be a 10-to-15-minute break for every 45 to 50 minutes of study. Parents of students who are in high school and students who may have learning difficulties may schedule 8-minute breaks at 30-minute intervals. During this time, people should plan to relax, stretch, or get some light exercise like a short walk. Another option is to do enjoyable things so they are less of a focus when studying. This may include eating a snack, calling a friend, or even checking social media.

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