If you think your teens are easily sidetracked now, just wait! When they head off to college, they’ll have to deal with new distractions of noisy dorms and the siren’s call of “You can study later! Let’s go out for coffee!”
Teens Need a Designated Study Space
High schoolers need to learn there’s both a time and a place for school work and study. College prep 101: Learning to Meet Deadlines looks at the element of time. Now, let’s think about ways to create a practical, quiet workspace for your teen, where productivity can thrive.
Studying in front of the TV or trying to work at the kitchen table while the family plays and talks nearby will doom your student’s productivity. Teens need a quiet spot for studying—a place set apart for school work alone.
I know this can be a challenge if you have a small house. For years, our daughter and her husband lived in a two-bedroom house with four children, so I understand this isn’t always possible. But if you can swing it, designate a workspace that’s separated from the family room, kitchen, or other busy, distracting, high-traffic locations.
Frequent interruptions don’t belong in a student’s study environment. By setting aside an isolated area used only for school work, you’re helping your teen make a healthy distinction between work and rest or play.
A designated workspace promotes concentration during study times, which in turn produces better academic results. Not only that, a quiet area improves concentration, which means your high schooler can get more done in less time. This adds up to more hours in which to enjoy favorite pastimes—definitely a bonus!
5 Ways to Create a Quiet, Productive Workspace for Your Teen
1. Set aside a work area that’s conducive to studying.
A corner of the library, or even a coffee shop from time to time, can be a good place for your student to study. But practically speaking, homeschool teens need a designated study space at home. Since most families don’t have the luxury of a separate homeschool room, you may need to think outside the box.
- Is there an enclosed porch with space for a desk and chair?
- Will your child’s bedroom work for quiet study times?
- In a busy or open room, such as the den, can you set up a workstation that faces away from the distractibility of family activity?
- Do you need to consider something portable? While these portable writing center ideas are geared toward elementary ages, you can easily tweak them so your teen can turn any quiet spot into a study space.
What about Studying in Bed?
Students may consider their bed a comfortable and quiet workspace, but a bed doesn’t create the best learning or study atmosphere for your teen. The temptation to nap can be real! Our bodies are trained to identify beds with sleeping, and when eyelids droop, productivity fades. This is just one of several sound reasons why studying in bed is a bad idea.
2. Make the study space comfortable and welcoming.
Enlist your teen’s help in creating the ideal study nook. Minimally, this space should include:
- Reasonably sized work surface to work on projects, spread out note cards or papers, or work beside you from time to time
- Comfortable chair
- Good task lighting
- Window or mini desk fan to keep fresh air circulating
- Personal items, such as a plant or poster
3. Keep necessary supplies at hand.
Jumping up every five minutes to hunt down paper, scissors, calculator, or a new ink cartridge eats up time and breaks concentration. So once your teen has a comfortable spot to study, equip the space with school supplies.
- Provide a desktop or laptop computer, if possible.
- Keep a thesaurus, dictionary, and grammar reference book handy. This is our favorite thesaurus for teens!
- Stock the area with writing materials and other school essentials.
- Store supplies in a handy drawer, basket, shelf, or tray and don’t allow them to be moved to other parts of the house.
Having supplies at the ready in an organized space means your teen can spend more time learning and less time digging around for a sharp pencil.
4. Establish and maintain a clutter-free zone.
Visual clutter is highly distracting, but a clean, orderly work surface greatly improves productivity and makes students happier.
5. Eliminate other distractions.
Make this an electronics-free zone as well, with the exception of a computer and printer. If there’s a TV nearby, turn it off along with the phone.
And if there’s just no such thing as a quiet nook in your home, consider investing in a set of noise-cancelling headphones your teen can wear to block out peripheral noise.