Did you know February 22 is “World Thinking Day”? The day was first marked in 1926 at the fourth Girl Guide/Girl Scout International Conference. It continues to be marked by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides internationally as well as, increasingly, by the general public.
This weekend also marks the end of university Reading Week, and the beginning of the slow buildup towards final exams, which means plenty of brain activity in the weeks and months to come. For parents of university-age children living at home, now is an opportune time to start thinking about creating the perfect study space at home—ahead of exam madness!
Of course, lots of students prefer to study outside the home—on campus, in coffee shops, or anywhere else with fewer distractions, but for the kid who plans on pulling all-nighters long past the last bus home from campus, a calming, distraction-free study space is a must.
Find the right location.
When it comes to creating a home study space, location is key. If you have a spare room in your house, a home study space might be the perfect use for that space. If you don’t have that luxury, there is still a lot you can do with an area of a bedroom, a basement, or virtually part of the house.
Things to consider when finding the right location for a dedicated study space include maximizing natural light (good for the brain), meaning that a basement might not be the ideal place. You will also want to put it in as quiet a location as possible, preferably away from heavy foot traffic, laundry room noise, TV room activity, and so on.
Find the right desk—and the right spot for it.
Finding the right study room desk for your young scholar is a Goldilocks exercise. You want a big enough desk to allow for a desktop and laptop in addition to old-fashioned paperwork, but one that’s not so big that it encourages clutter. An L-shaped desk is a good idea, as it has the effect of separating the digital section from the analogue.
You will ideally want to pick a spot for the desk that is illuminated by natural light but not directly in it. You will also want a spot with electrical outlets close at hand (preferably behind the desk so as to avoid unsightly cords), and with wall space available for customized shelves and cabinetry.
Invest in a good desk chair.
Nothing will kill a study space like an uncomfortable chair that nobody wants to use. While it’s tempting to make do with whatever you have on hand, a proper ergonomic desk chair conducive to healthy posture will ensure not only that the space gets used, but might also save your child from future back problems.
Shelving—but not too much shelving.
A study space does require shelving for those bulky and always expensive required textbooks as well as dictionaries, thesauruses, and other de-rigeur references books. That said, you will probably want to avoid putting large bookshelves within close range of the desk, as those comic books and graphic novels are a very tempting distraction from calculus and Canadian politics.
If you do have to put a study space close to non-study-related bookshelves, consider shelving with frosted glass or mesh doors, with smaller open shelves for coursework-related volumes positioned above the desk itself.
The sound of learning.
Everybody has their own preference when it comes to auditory stimulation for studying. Some like background music, while others prefer ASMR-type ambient noise, while others still work best in complete silence. Unless your young scholar prefers total silence while studying, a decent-quality Bluetooth speaker is a worthwhile investment in any modern study space.
What about the Internet?
There’s no getting around the fact that the biggest potential distraction in any given study space is going to be the desktop or laptop computer (or more specifically the Internet access they provide), as well as your child’s phone and other digital devices. There’s also no getting around the fact that these are essential tools for any university, college, or high school student.
For the highly distractible high schooler under your roof, tools like Norton Family Parental Control and Circle Home Plus enable you to manage and restrict online access from specific devices at specific times, giving you the ability to limit your child’s access to social networking sites while ensuring they can access Wikipedia and other important research-related websites.
Even if your child is in university and technically an adult, you might still want to put something like this in place to help them manage distractions, and frankly most parents themselves could do with reduced digital temptations in their lives.
Happy World Thinking Day—and happy studies!