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Last week we delved into boosting your child’s brain and memory during exams. Staying in the same spirit, we are sharing how you can create a study sanctuary for your child today, and yes! There are many benefits to this because it goes a long way in your child’s academic success. 

Counselling psychologist Winnie Mogoroga and interior designer Erica Schalkwyk share their expert advice about today’s parenting topic. 

The Importance of A Conducive Study Space.

The existing literature indicates that study areas play a vital role in determining how one can effectively learn and absorb information. Therefore, it is important to study in a conducive environment as there are various factors that if found in a study space, can influence how one absorbs information.

‘’For example, studying in a very noisy or disorganized space might affect one’s ability to concentrate and effectively take in information. Whereas, studying in a positive space might help to keep one engaged or stimulated and concentrating for longer periods,’’ elaborates Mogoroga. 

While there is no universal right way of studying, some learners prefer studying with music playing in the background as that helps them to relax and focus on the task at hand while others may prefer to study in a completely quiet space. Overall, a conducive and comfortable study space is important.

Interior designer Erica Schalkwyk adds that Interior design thinking and implementation not only makes life visually more beautiful but simplifies it and makes it better through functionality. 

‘’Think about the hurdles one can remove from an already difficult task like studying by giving your child a clean and clutter free work space, a good chair, and sufficient lighting,’’ says Schalkwyk.

Creating A Study Sanctuary 

Mogoroga takes us through some of the essential ingredients to creating or choosing a study sanctuary below:

  • Nature of the physical space: does the physical space reinforce the child’s study behaviour/attitudes? For example, if a child studies while lying in bed which is primarily used for sleeping, does it encourage them to study further or make them want to sleep?
  • It is important to choose a study area that is without distractions (e.g., avoid living or TV areas) as they may affect concentration.
  • Study areas should meet psychological needs: for example, some learners may become motivated to study when they are surrounded by other learners. So, it would be important for parents to allow their child to have study buddies if needed, as this may also help them to be motivated to do well and feel less anxious.
  • It is important that the study area remains organised and allows one to take breaks as this can help them to relax when feeling tired. After taking a break, one may feel encouraged to continue studying and be able to concentrate more.

Schalkwyk advices parents that they should consider creating a study space that have the following aspects: 

  • A standard desk space of 90cm to give the child space for a laptop and a book next to it.
  • A Stimulating and energising colour like green, yellow or red in front of the child to prevent tiredness.
  • No other items and clutter except highlighters and a desk lamp.
  • A good boring office chair that is comfortable above all else.
  • A warm rug for comfort and tactile support.
  • A fan or Heater for temperature control.
  • Good ventilation and fresh air for their brain to thrive.

All this is well and good, however, what if you have limited space in your house? Can you still make the best out of it?

Schalkwyk says you shouldn’t worry because small spaces are more ideal than bigger spaces. 

‘’They allow for a controlled environment that doesn’t have a lot of distraction. A small desk and chair is actually all you need to create a space that a child can feel is a dedicated study space,’’ shares Schalkwyk.  

When creating a study sanctuary for your child, you must always keep in mind that you don’t need natural light in a study area. 

Schalkwyk advises that you need good ventilation but our eyes and brain focus better with synthetic lighting which is consistent and calming. 

‘’Anything between 2700k and 5000k is considered warm soft white light and can be used all day and night without straining your eyes. Also angle it onto the page and not directly into the face,’’ adds Schalkwyk. 

The Link Between Study Sanctuary & Academic Performance

Mogoroga explains that, ’’Over the years, an immense body of research has shown that learning spaces play a vital role in determining academic performance. Furthermore, study environments that are more conducive tend to increase the learner’s ability to remain focused for longer periods unlike when one studies in a destructive or less engaged environment which can make one easily lose concentration.’’ 

That’s why when a learner struggles to concentrate, he or she may be unable to take in more information which may ultimately affect their performance when they are assessed in the exam.

Mogoroga notes that it is important to mention that choosing a conducive study environment can also depend on the learner’s learning style. For example, a learner who is more of an auditory learner may struggle to study effectively in a very quiet space (e.g. Library) as they learn through reading audibly in order to understand and memorize the information. 

This means that such learners may struggle to study in a very quiet environment which may ultimately lower their ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Is A Conducive Study Space Enough For Academic Success? 

Mogoroga shares that although it is important to create a conducive study space in order to help your children succeed academically, there are other important factors to consider that can assist in enhancing the academic well-being of your child.

‘’For example, doing homework and practicing what they have learned at school is very important as children only spend approximately 6-7 hours at school and the rest of the time is spent at home with their primary caregivers. The time spent at home must be used effectively,’’ advises Mogoroga. 

Family support and parental involvement is very important as it may impact on the effectiveness of the child’s efforts to study.

Mogoroga also advises parents to consider the type of activities that children engage in when they get home after school. 

She says, ‘’children need to engage in activities that help them to relax rather than exhaust them as this may impact their ability to study effectively. 

As We Conclude… 

Remember that clutter, accessories, etc. create too much distraction. Paint the room one colour and make sure the room is neat and tidy. 

It’s about association. Create a space that your child can feel associated with concentration and focus!