Whether you are starting school or you are sending your child back to school, this is the perfect time to set up a study area. Don’t let the size of your apartment make you think you can’t have a quiet place to focus on school work. With a little planning and organizing, you can have the perfect study nook.
First, look around and determine if there’s a closet that is underused or just filled with unnecessary clutter. Perhaps it is a hallway closet or a closet in your child’s room. If you have such a space, clear it out! Toss everything you don’t need and store everything else in another location. If you are clearing a child’s closet, put clothing in drawers and put toys in a toy box and games on a bookshelf. If you are allowed to paint in your apartment, paint the inside of the closet the same color as the room – or pick a bright, contrasting color. You can purchase a desk or build your own. When I created a craft closet, I purchased materials and built a desk to fit the rather narrow space. Next, install shelving on the interior side walls. These little nooks are perfect for storing containers and baskets filled with pencils, pens, erasers, crayons, and other supplies. Along the back wall behind the desk, hang a peg board and a cork board. The peg board can be used to hang clipboards and tools (such as scissors, rulers, etc.) and the cork board can be used to hang decorative items, practice calendars, study guides, drawings, and inspirational items.
If you don't have a closet you can use, look for a space that is out of the way, such as an alcove under the stairs, a corner of the dining room, the space under your child's (or your) loft bed, or even the space at the end of a hallway. Don't let the size of the available space deter you; think vertically with floor-to-ceiling shelving and be creative with storage.
Lighting is important, especially in a darker space such as a closet or alcove. Even if the closet has an overhead light, get a desk lamp and add it to the space. One with a bendable neck is great because it focuses the light where you need it. Don't make the space too bright, though, or it could hurt study-weary eyes. Same goes for a light that is too dim – avoid eye strain by adjusting the lighting so it is comfortable for your eyes and your child's.
Choosing a location far from distractions is a good idea, but I find complete silence as distracting as chaotic noise. If your study nook is a little too quiet, try adding an MP3 player that is loaded with nothing but classical music. Classical music activates both the right and left sides of the brain at the same time, which maximizes learning and retention. Want proof? Try listening to this playlist while you study for your next big exam – or play it for your child while he studies his spelling list.
Supplies are important – you don't want to be rushing out at the last minute when you realize you need something and don't have it. The items I find most handy include: pens and pencils, erasers, poster board, index cards, glue, paint, colored pencils, a variety of stickers, stamp sets, markers, scissors, loose-leaf notebook paper, graph paper, printer paper, rulers, a calculator, a thesaurus, a dictionary, a math compass, tape, a stapler and staples, and a pencil sharpener. Customize the supplies to fit your or your child's needs (you'll want to keep the stapler and scissors out of tiny hands, for example, so keep those up where only you have access).
Having a designated study zone will boost your child's grades and improve his study habits. And if you are creating a study space for your apartment or college dorm, you'll appreciate the fact that you have a quiet area to focus on your studies. Make sure that you come up with a study schedule. Share it with your roommates or go over it with your child, so everyone knows when the "do not disturb" times are. Happy studying!