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Do your homework and set up a quiet study area for students

SHARE Do your homework and set up a quiet study area for students

A structured study area can turn homework woes into successes, experts say. One of the key areas parents may consider changing is the time, place and space their children do their homework. Experts agree it's a good idea to set up consistent study areas in a quiet and visible place in the house.

"Establishing a place where they know there's no fooling around, no games and that this is my work space - that sets the stage for getting to work rather than trying to work in the den with the television or in their room where their toys are," said Carole Perry with the Waco Independent School District. "It's a good idea. It sounds so simplistic but it's so important."Whether it's at the kitchen table, on a card table in the dining room or at a desk in the living room, children should get in the habit of doing their homework in that one spot each day.

"I think anything that can be consistent about homework helps the children know that homework is important," said Dr. Della Thomas, coordinator of psychological services with WISD. "The consistency of having things in the same place and not having to go find things cuts down on time and helps them concentrate. It takes some of the variables out of homework."

When a family has multiple children and only one desk, that may mean sharing the kitchen table and keeping each child's supplies in a separate cardboard box.

If the child is just borrowing the desk for the school year, they should still have something that makes that area their own space while working there, Thomas suggested. This could be their own jar of pencils, a school picture or little awards they've won, that is, if those things aren't too distracting.

The kitchen table is still the old-fashioned way of doing homework and works well, especially for younger students whose attention spans may have them up and out of a desk chair in no time flat.

As students get older, parents might consider giving a kitchen-table student a little more leeway and trust and perhaps look at setting up a desk area.

A little planning should take place before parents rush off to the furniture or office supply store, said Henry Wood-ward, Office Depot store manager. Here's some advice:

- Measure. Parents should decide where they want to place a desk and then record measurements. Also, if a desk is to house a computer, measure the pieces of hardware to make sure they'll fit on the desk.

- Decide on cost. Student desks can cost anywhere from a few dollars at a garage sale to a few hundred dollars.

- Look for quality and workmanship if you're planning on using the desks for several years or for several children. Many of the wooden desks are made of pressed particle board.

"They make a really good product for an economically minded customer vs. real wood, which would be very expensive," Woodward said.

- One of the most important factors in setting up a decent study area for a child is to ensure there is sufficient lighting. An extra lamp on the desk is always a best bet.

- What about a chair? Price is a substantial deciding factor when it comes to desk chairs. Parents want to avoid going all-out on a student's chair, but they do want to make sure it is comfortable and accommodating.

Look for heavy, lasting fabrics, adjustable seats and backs that can be raised for little people and durable molded wheel casters.

Chairs that roll and rock might not be the best choice for children who have trouble concentrating, since they might end up using the chair more as a jungle gym than a seat. A chair that allows children to put their feet on the ground is ideal.

Bedrooms are not as ideal as other rooms of the house since parents have a harder time keeping track of homework and there are too many distractions, such as stereos, toys and telephones.