How do you create the perfect study space?

Imade Credit: Restoration Hardware via Teen Vogue

Now the season of goodwill is a distant memory.

In our house we’ve entered the season of cajoling, bribing, reassuring and straight-out bullying. 

Yes, the run up to GCSEs is beginning and the need for some effective revision is starting to become apparent.

So beyond wringing our hands and bleating ‘You just need to do something!’ and ‘Get off the Xbox!’ how can we help our little darlings prepare?

Well, research has shown that the two most successful techniques for exam revision are:

1. Test yourself

2. Spread out your learning over time (i.e. don’t rely on cramming the night before!)

This boils down to doing lots of past papers and starting now if you haven’t already.

Obviously I’m passing that information on to my teenagers. 

They might do it…but at this age, really most of what I can do is hope.

What I can definitely help with is providing the conditions to make it as easy as possible. When my boys went to secondary school, I set them up with a desk each in their rooms where they can do their homework.

I set filing systems up so they could easily see individual subjects and bought chairs that wouldn’t hurt their backs or strain their necks.

What I hadn’t taken into account at that time was the sheer amount of stuff that migrates onto the desks when they’re working. 

As well as exercise books and pens and pencils there’s a computer, phone, reference books, odd bits of paper with notes on them, chargers and highlighters. 

The neat little desk can’t cope and things spill over to the bed, shelves and floor. 

Cluttered teen desk

Image Credit: Pinterest

To the rescue come trusty memories of my own teenage revision sessions. 

Admittedly they weren’t that frequent and there was no hide-away place to do them. Most of my schoolwork took place on the kitchen table. 

It had the inconvenience of having to clear off the dinner dishes, fruit bowl and occasional cat, but it gave me space to spread out everything I needed.

So this is the route I’m taking for the 3 or 4 months R&A have before the GCSE exams rumble into town.

Firstly, get them the biggest surface area you can manage to shoehorn into their room / study area. And provide them with shelves to pack it all away at the end of the study session or you will, like me, find they’ve ‘filed’ everything on the floor.

If possible make sure that they study in the same place each time, and that place is away from the main living area. 

This keeps the idea of ‘work’ and ‘down time’ separate and can help with not feeling overwhelmed:  they can dip in and out of it and seek refuge in the relaxation space. What you don’t want is the stress of revision to leak into all parts of the home, either physically or emotionally. It plays havoc with the digestive process apart from anything else! 

If the kitchen or dining room table is the only practical place, just make sure you clearly separate the eating and working times by completely clearing the table each time it changes use. It can help to have a little thing you do to mark the change.  Something as simple as wiping the table down with a cloth will do. Or make it fun by changing the cloth or even ringing a bell.   

Organised Teen Desk

Image Credit: Pinterest

What I’m trying to do always is manage the stress levels. 

It’s really important not to feel overwhelmed at exam times. Some clarity in terms of space and tidiness can make all the difference. External organisation of space is very good for internal organisation of ideas. Well, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

Finally, it’s been conclusively proven that teenage minds work most effectively with regular breaks – 20 minutes followed by a short rest/pee/snack can make the whole thing bearable.To break up study I encourage mine to take the dog out for a wee walk or go to the gym.

Though they more likely opt for watching a bit of tv with me or playing on the xbox. Whatever. 

If all else fails, just hang in there. 

Try not to shout, give them as many hugs as they’ll take and yourself as many treats as you can shoe-horn in (I think Designer’s Guild still has a sale on…)

Victoria x 

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