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Genius at Work?

Designing your child's study area

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Genius at Work?

Creating a functional study area in children’s bedrooms won’t guarantee them a future Nobel Prize, but it should make homework less of a chore. Good design is easy to achieve, and inexpensive, too.

Creating a functional study area in children’s bedrooms won’t guarantee them a future Nobel Prize, but it should make homework less of a chore. Good design is easy to achieve, and inexpensive, too.

Start with a large desk and a comfortable ergonomic chair. Pay attention to light, air, and electronics, practise basic feng shui principles, and you’ll set the stage for success. Then let your child help in the planning, so the study area will be truly his or hers.

Electronics Turn Me Off

Children’s bedrooms are often overstocked with electrical equipment: stereos, TVs, computers, and clocks. Remind your child to turn off equipment when not in use to conserve electricity and cut down on electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which are a byproduct of electricity.

Take the less-is-better approach. Keep electrical equipment away from the bed to minimize the effects of EMFs and place these devices against outer walls so their energy dissipates outside.

Consider removing the television to reduce distraction. If that’s not possible, limit usage and make sure your child turns it off at bedtime. Kids who fall asleep in front of the TV have less restful sleep, which inhibits their ability to learn.

Cover the lights on electronic equipment at night so they don’t glow in the dark and interfere with sleep.

Breathe Deeply

Clean, fresh air is vital to improve concentration and can be as close as your window. Since indoor pollution is often greater than outdoor pollution, particularly in airtight buildings, keep a window open whenever possible.

Help to clean indoor air by creating your own air filter using common houseplants. Philodendron, dracaena, spider plants, Boston ferns, peace lilies, and bamboo can clear carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air. One plant can clean about 100 sq ft (30 sq m) of air.

If fresh air and houseplants don’t do the trick, or if your child has allergies, use an air purifier. Models that use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are generally more effective than electrostatic or ionizing appliances; however, replacing HEPA filters can be costly and create extra garbage.

Open a window to air out the room and dissipate odours from gym shoes (or lunches lost under the bed). Or go the natural deodorizer route to absorb odours and use baking soda or zeolite (a porous silicate), which can be found in health food stores.

Let There Be Light

The best light for homework or computer use is sunlight. It’s not only free but helps the body generate vitamin D. If your child’s work area doesn’t get enough natural light, consider installing a skylight or a tunnel light. Flexible tubing and a reflector system mean tunnel lights do not require a direct pathway from the roof. They can be installed around obstructions and bring natural light to rooms that skylights can’t.

When the sun is not shining, use compact fluorescent lights. They’re energy efficient and produce less heat than halogen lights.

Think about “where” as well as “how much” light. Place the work surface at right angles to the light source so it doesn’t cause eyestrain or bounce off the computer screen and create a glare.

For non-computer activities such as writing or reading, provide task lighting. Use clip-on lights or free-standing lamps that focus the light about 10 to 12 in (25 to 30 cm) above the page.

Adding Harmony Through Feng Shui

Drawing on basic feng shui principles can allow your child to make the most out of his or her study time. Try one or two of the following suggestions and see what happens.

Ideally, place the desk facing the northeast part of the room–the knowledge sector. Position the desk with a view of the door, with a solid wall behind to give her support in her pursuits.

Keep the area in front of the desk clear and provide enough drawers, shelves, and desk organizers for a tidy desk. This allows for constant flow of qi (energy), which influences positive thoughts and creativity.

Place a crystal on the desk to aid concentration and focus. Statues or pictures of goats, dragons, or fish also enhance academic potential. To attract even more academic success, create an achievement area and hang awards or papers with good grades.

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