3 Homework and Study Space Must-Haves

Now that your little genius is back to school and bringing home assignments, it's time to check in on the space you've set aside for completing them!

There are a number of important aspects to creating an effective at-home study space, but while the perfect colors and cute accessories are ultimately optional, these three factors aren't.

 

Lighting

Good lighting is important for obvious reasons, to reduce eye-strain and ensure that your child can see clearly, but it also serves to create a sense of openness, relieving stress and increasing concentration levels. Keep these tips in mind when selecting and arranging lighting for your little one's study space:

- Avoid placing the desk directly in front of a window, as this can be a distraction. Instead, arrange your student's desk so that natural sunlight streams in from the side.

- Window or not, position the desk to face towards the inside of the room, rather than a wall. Facing the wall while working or studying (or anytime, really) can create a sense of closure that isn't conducive to studying.

- Lighting is best when it comes from above. For this reason, avoid short table lamps and aim for taller floor lamps or ceiling installations. 

- Be sure to balance natural and artificial light, as the latter can cause sleepiness, which definitely won't get the homework done!

- If you have limited natural lighting, consider alternative options like cream colored paints, lighting that faces up and venetian blinds. 

 

Sound

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Another important sense to keep in mind in a study space is hearing. External sounds and noises can have an effect on your genius's ability to concentrate and grasp lessons, so remember this:

- Silence is usually best for smaller children when doing schoolwork.

- If your little learner does want music, opt for classical music or easy listening.

- Avoid using headphones, as this can be harder to tune out for focusing purposes. 

- Consider using the sounds of nature as background noise. Studies show this reduces tension and stress. 

 

Temperature

 

Not surprisingly, productivity can drop or increase depending on temperature. This means it's important to get it just right in your student's study space. These guidelines should help make sure of that:

- If possible, keep the temperature at 77. It's the ideal focusing temperature according to studies. 

- Avoid placing your little one's desk near the heater or air conditioner.

- If adjusting the temperature isn't possible, be sure to keep sweaters, blankets or fans nearby to keep your student at an optimal temperature for learning.

Your 2016 Guide to Finding Teacher Discounts

Whether you're in need of teaching supplies, organization, clothing, books, food, rent-a-cars,  personal care products or more we've compiled a list of over 100 retailers that honor teachers in the best place possible - their wallets. As you head full steam into the new school year check in with this round up for discounts on nearly everything you'll need and quite a few you may simply want. Happy shopping!

6 Inspirational Quotes for Packing Up Your Classroom

It's finally the end of the year, and if we know teachers, we know you're ready to pack up and head home for the summer. Like, SO ready. This part of the year can be particularly important, because if you pack up the right way, starting off next year on the right foot is a breeze. Last year's Kid-Smart expert, Tanya Kolb, has tips on how to get organized before next year, and you can check them out here. In the meantime, here's a little organizing inspiration to get you through these last few days before the glorious summer. 

Your Child's Brain on Good Design

As adult guides, it is our responsibility to create nurturing, inspiring learning environments that foster academic achievement and creativity. Places where students can thrive and discover the special skills and gifts they’ll someday use to make meaningful contributions to the world.

Good Classroom Design Brains

Design - Schools Vs. Offices

There's so much focus on office design but considering how much more impressionable a child’s brain is compared to an adult’s (neuroscientists use the term “plastic”) it's shocking how little we're discussing school design.  If it’s already widely accepted that office design greatly impacts the productivity, emotional state, and physical health of adult employees, it stands to reason that the relationship between children and design is even more critical.  More and more experts are listing school design as a key factor in a student’s success, and rightfully so.  Genes provide a blueprint, but the construction of a child’s brain is formed by environment and experience.  

School Design Impact - UK Study

Researchers out of the United Kingdom found that classroom architecture and design significantly affected academic performance: Environmental factors studied affected 73 percent of the changes in student scores. The year-long study suggests that a school's physical design can improve or worsen children's academic performance by as much as 25 percent in early years.

Clutter Impact - Princeton Study

Another study, by the neuroscientists at Princeton University, found that when parents had to deal with their belongings their stress hormones spiked. Similar to what multitasking does to the brain, physical clutter overloads the senses, causes stress, and impairs the ability to think creatively.  Children then, suffer doubly. Once from their own battle to keep focused in cluttered spaces, and again when the parents and educators they rely on for guidance under-perform due to disorganization.

Even without research to back it up it seems an obvious conclusion that children’s surroundings can have a negative impact on their ability to focus and process information.  But the research does exist - and as interest in school design and tactile, design-based learning increases, so do the number of studies. They paint a clear picture: alongside key factors like home life, inspired teachers and school location, a child’s success is also linked to the spaces where they learn.