How to create an effective study space

Two experts weigh in on what to include, what to leave out and how it can make a world of difference for an easily distracted student.

homework desk
Photo courtesy of zdyma4

How and where a person studies is a very personal choice, influenced by everything from the space that is available to individual personalities. Distractible students might require a closed-off space that is rarely disturbed, while other children thrive in environments where they can easily access parental guidance. There are, however, some basic principles for building the perfect study space that are as easy to implement as doing homework should be.

Ann Dolin of EC Tutoring, which provides in-home educational and organizational coaching for students, advises parents to designate a container such as a shower caddy for all studying supplies in order to make them centralized and portable. With the containers, students can pick whatever study space they feel comfortable with on any given day. The container idea also frees up time that would otherwise be spent searching the house for scissors, erasers, pens and the like.

Dolin also recommends keeping a clipboard in the caddy should kids wish to study on the ground, which might seem strange, but Dolin notes kids stuck at a desk all day will likely want more freedom after they go home for the day. But Dolin cautions against using the bedroom as a study space because it is associated with calming activities and leisure time rather than the productivity required for schoolwork.

Sarita Simpson, an Arlington-based interior designer at Sarita Simpson Designs, agrees that children should be given the option to work in a cozy, nontraditional way. Instead of relying solely on a desk and chair, Simpson recommends a space with a “traditional work area… along with a lounge area with comfortable seating for reading and working on a laptop.” That sort of multipurpose space offers options for students who like to sprawl out and switch positions during bouts of extended studying. Simpson suggests investing in some “sophisticated” bean bags or lounge chairs as well as moveable c-tables and lap desks for working on laptops.

Simpson notes that clutter can be a major distraction. “Not only do books, papers and other studying essentials need to be organized, but electronics and all of the chargers and accessories that go with them also need places to live when not in use,” she says.

A wall organizer and cable box for long cords from The Container Store are two of Simpson’s favorite solutions.

And don’t overlook the importance of lighting. “Reading and studying requires good lighting and should include both ambient lighting and task lighting,” Simpson says.

Adequate lights help students avoid straining their eyes when working with electronics late into the night. These customizable LED lamps from Brazo and FLOS are Simpson’s top picks.

(Back to School Guide)