Set up for school success with a study area

Back-to-School News Distributed 07/11/08

With the start of school comes the reality of homework. To start the year off right, help students make the most of their study time with a productive study spaces, advises LSU AgCenter 4-H youth development expert Dr. Janet Fox.

When planning a study area, remember that all students are different. Some need a quiet room free from interruptions, while others study better when listening to quiet music or taking several breaks.

“It’s important to assess your child’s study style before setting up the study space,” Fox said.

To create the most effective studying habits, Fox advises parents to treat studying like a ceremony. For example, assign a specific place and time for study.

Next, designate a room or a large section of a room for homework. That area becomes the student’s personal space. Ideally, it should include a desk or table and chair and a bookshelf with reference works and other books relevant to what the student is studying.

The study space could be a bedroom, the kitchen table or a computer room.

Bedrooms often make a great place to study but can be difficult if a child shares a room or gets distracted by toys.

Although a kitchen table is a place to spread out, it also can be a difficult place to do homework because it serves a dual purpose. If the kitchen is a gathering place, however, a parent can prepare supper while answering simple questions or quizzing the child.

You might consider the attic, basement or garage as a study area, so the child can be completely away from others. If those areas have electricity and are comfortable, youth often can benefit from these out-of-the way places.

“Once you’ve chosen a study place, it’s important to make the study space comfortable and functional,” Fox said.

For example, there should be plenty of room to spread out. A computer also is a welcome addition, since more and more teachers use Internet sites to post homework and study guides. In addition, the space should have school supplies such as glue, felt pens, highlighters and other materials used for study.

“Parents need to be present,” Fox said, explaining that children need supervision even while studying. Parents might schedule activities of their own during study time, but being present makes them available to answer questions, check answers, quiz the youngster on test materials and make sure their child isn’t having any problems.

It’s also important for parents to monitor Internet usage. Students sometimes stumble onto inappropriate Web sites even through common searches. Parents can help their children avoid certain sites and quickly move to others that are more appropriate.

With all of the dangers of what and who children can come into contact with on the Internet, many parents are becoming increasingly interested in filters, blockers, time limits and other parental controls. One strategy to avoid problems is to have computers with Internet connections in central locations in your home – where they can be monitored.

“Parents should establish study rules,” Fox added. She explained that rules help avoid unnecessary arguments and misunderstandings by letting children know when and how they should study. Parents even might consider creating a homework contract.

“If you know that your child is able to study effectively by taking breaks or eating a snack, for example, make that part of the agreement,” Fox said.

Parents play a key role in supporting their children as they study lessons and prepare for tests. By understanding their children’s study habits and setting up helpful study environments, parents can ensure their students are doing their personal best at school.

For related youth development topics, visit the family and home or the 4-H and Youth Development links at the LSU AgCenter Web site at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Contact: Janet Fox at (225) 578-6751 or
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or

7/10/2008 8:49:35 PM
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