Make a space at home to study for school

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published August 26, 2015


METRO DETROIT — With a new school year approaching, it’s time to get back into the groove of studying and doing homework.

Several local educators have offered tips to help create the ideal workspace for students to do their homework at home.

A number of Macomb County educators through the Macomb Intermediate School District suggested that students should have a consistent place to study that the student and family members agree upon. That could be the bedroom, kitchen, basement or home office area.

The “study area” should have a power source nearby for students who might need to use electronic devices — including a laptop computer — for reference, homework activities and test preparations.

The area should be free of distractions and have little traffic and no loud interruptions, if possible. It’s also a good idea to remove clutter from the work area, since that can be distracting when studying.

Along with creating the proper place to study, it’s important to get children into a pattern of doing their homework every day.

“Establishing a homework routine and a common place is really important. That includes a space and a time for when homework is completed. A younger student would need more guidance and direction than an older student,” Center Line Public Schools Curriculum Director Lisa Oleski said. “As a parent, we want to help develop a routine at a young age for them to independently work on homework.”

Educators suggested that students take a break after school and begin their homework an hour later or after dinner. Family members should be available to assist the student if necessary, but they don’t need to sit with the student the entire time.

“You’re trying to have a consistent time each day,” Oleski said. “You don’t want that to be a battle or struggle each day.”

Oleski suggested that students keep their school supplies all in the same spot within their study area. Also, only take out supplies that will be used at that particular time to avoid creating a messy atmosphere in the work area.

“Some students really need to learn how to organize their materials,” Oleski said.

Something Oleski has done with her own children is the creation of a homework kit in which to keep pens, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, glue, highlighters, Post-It notes, scissors, rulers and other supplies. It can be a tackle box or other such container. She suggested keeping backpacks and schoolbags in the same spot so students and their parents always know where to find them.

“Everything is at your fingertips,” Oleski said. “We’re not searching for the materials.”

Another suggestion is to use a three-fold poster board and find a creative way to secure supplies to it.

“It can be folded and put in a closet when not used,” Oleski said.

One way to stay organized is to have a calendar in the study area. Students can mark the dates of when projects are due or when a test is coming up.

“It can help kids see what they need to do and the timeline for it,” said Melissa Almanza, a board-certified behavior analyst with the Macomb Oakland Regional Center who also taught in the classroom for many years.

Almanza, of Troy, suggested that students do their homework on the same level in the house where their parents are doing laundry or cooking. That way, the parent is nearby if the child has a question or needs assistance. Parents can check on kids too.

“Older kids on a laptop can look like they’re doing homework,” Almanza said. “Just check in sometimes. ‘Are you on Facebook or are you working on your report?’”

Almanza said good lighting that can be lowered and raised also should be included in the study area.

“You don’t want students straining their eyes,” she said. “We are so bright now with computer screens and cellphones.”

In addition, Almanza recommended that students do their homework on a flat surface such as a desk, table or clipboard. Doing homework on the bed should be avoided.

“It’s soft, which makes it hard to write, essentially,” she said. “I tend to fall asleep.”

Almanza also encourages students to take a break while studying. She suggests keeping bouncy balls or a trampoline nearby for younger kids to use when taking a breather. A treadmill or stationary bicycle can be used by older students in between studying.

“It gives them a chance to get up and move around,” Almanza said.