While even the perfect working environment cannot guarantee that a student will want to do homework, creating a better place to work can help them focus on the task at hand. Setting up such an environment at home is as easy as following these simple strategies.
Provide youth with an office to do homework
As an adult, what type of work environment do you thrive in? For your child, their homework is their work. What environment would best support homework productivity?
Set up an area in your home where your child is comfortable. Involve your child in the decision making. If she owns it, it’s her space and she’ll be more invested in using that space. Possible options include:
- Your child’s room. That said, a room filled with video games, television, and other distractions far from supervision may be the worst possible place to do homework.
- At the dining room table or a station where support will be close at hand.
- A homework “cave”. Some children want to be in the community area, yet, are highly distracted by what is going on around them. A table with a blanket over it, an indoor tent, or a semi-walled corner of a room might be the perfect solution.
Does your child have office supplies?
A small basket, with pencils, erasers, paper, markers, and any other items that they may need to complete their work. Having the necessary tools available will keep youth focused and reduce their tendency to wander away from their homework to look for supplies.
What about lighting and study music?
- The human brain uses light to support vision, alertness, and cognitive tasks. So, the type of lighting we use in the learning environment makes and important difference. If possible, use full-spectrum lighting or natural light. If the homework area is lit with florescent light, consider a blue shade over the light. Blue lighting has a positive effect on mood and emotions.
- Calm the homework beast with music at 60 beat per minute or less to help with attention issues and sensory processing. Music suggestions include:
- Native American Flute
- Classical music: Mozart or Baroque for Learning (Caution: Some Classical is too rambunctious. The key is 60 beats per minute or less.).
- Typically, gravitate towards music without words (which may be distracting).
Help them thrive with a routine
Studies show that students are more successful when they have an established routine and a schedule for doing homework. Create a study schedule with your child. Together, determine a time frame for beginning homework every day. Also, agree on logical consequences that support homework time. Consequences are often thought of as negative experiences, however, a consequence of one’s behavior can be positive. What might be the logical consequence of completing homework? What might be a logical consequence of breaking the agreement you and your child put into place? Whatever you decide, follow through!
For children who have a lot of homework, allow time for breaks. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. When the timer rings, have them stand and stretch, take a short walk, or shoot some hoops. This will help get them re-energized and oxygenate the brain.
Establish a NO Distractions rule
Once you have figured out a set time for completing homework, establish a no distraction rule for that period of time that applies to everyone in the house. This means no television, video games, or phones. If there are other children in the house, have them do something quietly during homework time. Eliminating distractions will help to keep your child focused on their homework.
Every child is different and will thrive in different environments. Together with your child, figure out what works best for them. The result will be less time and energy spent getting your child to focus and complete their homework and more time being able to provide your child with positive reinforcement. In addition to providing them with a supportive homework environment, commending your child for staying on task will motivate them to do their very best.
For more information about study strategies for your student, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Please Help Me With My Homework. Available in both print and electronic versions!