Any parent familiar with the nightly homework struggle knows that where homework gets done can become just a much of an issue as when homework gets done. So a common set of questions we often get from parents is: “Are there any best places to do homework? And where should we avoid?”
In this post, we’ll outline our top 3 choices for best places to do homework, along with some areas we recommend you avoid.
Are there actually best places to do homework? It depends…
Now let’s start off by saying, even though we’ll outline some good choices for homework spots, each child has their own particular learning preferences.
This means that although the kitchen table might bit a great choice for one kid, it might be loud, distracting, and not conducive to focused work for another.
So first things first, recognize that your child may already have their favorite places to do homework in mind, and involve them in the process of making it a regular habit to work in the most productive spots. And the research actually supports this idea.
Metacognition: Self-aware students do better
Metacognition is defined as, “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.” This term’s origins are in the field of psychology, but a study out of Vanderbilt University actually ties metacognition or self-awareness to college success.
The study looked at college freshman and found that those who were more effective in choosing their study habits (and locations) were much more successful in the classroom.
In other words, the students who knew themselves and the way they learn best performed better and got better grades. It’s important to note that these successful students didn’t all use the same study habits; but rather, they were able to identify what worked best for them and stick to those strategies. This is because every person takes in, processes, and learns information a little differently.
Keep this in mind when choosing the ideal homework location.
Best Homework Spot #1: The Kitchen Table
If you’re like me, when you grew up your parents expected all homework to be completed at the kitchen table. For some kids, this is a great option. It allows them to spread out all their books in the hum of a busy area, which for some kids who hate the quiet, is absolutely perfect!
But for others, like me, this isn’t a great spot because it’s in the center of the house and there are so many distractions. Every time someone walks by to the fridge, sink, or garage is yet another opportunity to lose focus.
Best Homework Spot #2: The Couch Lap Desk
While this won’t work for some due to the temptation of the TV (or the ability to slowly sink into napping mode) we’ve found that some students are really successful on the couch with a lap desk.
Comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions, this is usually a good spot if your child likes the ability to “sink in” and focus from the lounging position.
Best Homework Spot #3: The Outside Deck Dweller
A lot of students prefer the nice, cool, air conditioned indoors over going outside for homework time, because there’s less of a chance of discomfort (or your papers being blown away!).
But we do come across those few students who just absolutely love being outside. For these kids, you can blend the best of both worlds, and have them do their homework outside on the deck.
Hey, maybe they’ll even get some much needed Vitamin D in the process!
The ONE homework location to avoid…
As we said before, much of your child’s choice of homework location depends on their personal preferences. But there is one place that’s generally regarded as a “no-no.” And thats… the bedroom.
Because this is the one place in the house your son or daughter are most likely to be distracted by toys, phones, computers, and all other forms of impulse to NOT study or do homework. So you should probably keep that one off the list.
How to help your child figure out what their ideal learning environment is
First of all, you want to give your child the flexibility to try a few different places.
If you find that your child is having a hard time focusing in a designated homework area, encourage him to try a different location and then ask leading questions such as:
“How focused did you feel in the ____?”
Or “did you feel like you got a lot done when you were studying in the ___?”
You want to avoid asking the question “which did you prefer?” because many times students will choose the convenient location over the one that leads to productivity.
If there’s a lot going on and you still find that your student is having a hard time focusing, encourage her to find outside locations. This could be a public library, or staying after school for a homework club or a teacher’s office hours. Sometimes there’s just too many distractions in the home for a student to get a lot done.
Finally, if you find yourself caught up in arguments with your child over where she is doing her homework (e.g. she insists on doing her homework in her bedroom though she’s not getting a lot done), try bringing in a neutral third party such as a tutor. Many times, this third party will eliminate the stress between the parent and the student while working with the student to figure out what learning environment they perform best in.
What study locations have your kids found to be most productive?
Take a moment to share in the comments! We’d love to hear some new creative ideas.
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