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A top-notch education starts at home, and a dedicated homework area could help your kids complete their assignments efficiently and successfully-with the least amount of kicking and screaming. Whatever your space or budget limitations may be, any devoted space for study is better than sprawling out on the floor in front of the television. Not convinced? Build it-whether it's a nook in the kitchen or a room all its own-and the good grades will come. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you get started. -Tabitha Sukhai, thisoldhouse.com
Focus on Location, Location, Location
Location, location, location
Consider your kid's age and learning style when deciding where to site a study space. The U.S. Department of Education recommends a quiet, well-lighted place that's fully stocked with the necessary materials and supplies for your child's grade level. Younger kids who need homework help and supervision, for example, might benefit from working in the kitchen, where rolling out a supply cart can indicate the start of study time, and you can do quiet chores or prepare dinner while they work.
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Lay Out a Power Desk
A spacious, flat surface (desk or table) and a comfortable chair that suits your child's height will encourage neat handwriting. For desks, opt for a lamp with a built-in holder for pencils, scissors, and other supplies. A small bookcase or wall-mounted shelves preloaded with an atlas, dictionary, and thesaurus wouldn't hurt, either.
If you have the wall space, hang a corkboard or inconspicuous magnet strips for posting those A+ exams and a calendar for keeping track of assignments, school events, and extracurricular activities. Mimicking this school feature is a fun way to put kids into student mode at home.
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Keep It Light
Appropriate window treatments will allow students to customize the flow of natural light coming into the room, especially if daylight is interfering with computer monitors. When decorating, remember: You're not the one using the space, your child is. So take their feedback seriously and create a pleasant homework environment where they won't mind settling in, while being mindful of clutter and distractions.
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Do Homework in Timed Heats
A consistent study routine with about 30 minutes of downtime before getting started is widely recommended. "Use a power period of 45 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break time to promote productivity and efficiency. Create a workflow process with your kids and it will make all the difference," advises Ellen Delap of Professional-Organizer.com
Elizabeth Hagen, author of Organize with Confidence (and mom of five!), suggests supplying kids with a timer so they can learn to focus on their homework for an allotted period, and work toward finishing so that they can watch their favorite TV show or go play.
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