A network to share best practices for children with special needs
Everyone has a comfortable and successful place to study. Some kids need a quiet, calm, clean, and cool environment. Other kids need noise and activity, with a warm and busy environment. Still other children need some mix of the two. My own kids are different in that one child is easily distracted and requires a quieter and calmer environment, whereas another one of my children enjoys having people around. The child who enjoys having people around is actually easily distracted if they are in their room by themselves because they won’t focus on the task, but rather gets sidetracked with their toys. The key to knowing what works best for your child is to find their optimal environment. A good study environment is highly individualized so consider this information when looking at optimal study environment for your kids.
Temperature: The temperature can make an impact on your studying. As we know, some people can only fall asleep if they are cold while others when they are warm. This is based on personal preference and how our bodies react to the room temperature. The outside weather conditions can also make an impact, but in general the temperature should be reasonable (not too hot and not too cold) in order to focus and concentrate. Some of the research and information I have seen has shown that optimal school room temperature should be around 70 degrees.
Noise: Many children need a quiet place to study in order to focus and think. Other children like white noise in the background because they may feel the “silence is deafening”. Some kids can concentrate with a fire truck down the street, but a leaky faucet may drive them nuts. Everyone is different and its good to determine what noise level is best for your child. One way to do this is to pay attention to what bothers/distracts your child versus what does not. Take note as to what the noise level is whey your child is having a productive day and determine if continuing with that level of noise is working. Some research has shown that there is a connection between noise and concentration.
Lighting: Adequate lighting is a must for studying, but the right type of lighting may make an impact on children with disabilities. Kids should not have to strain their eyes to see what they are studying. Poor lighting can cause straining and be a factor in headaches. Make sure there is no glare or shadows making it difficult to see the study materials. In addition, fluorescent lighting (which many schools have) can be visually harsh and therefore many children can benefit from cozy shades making it a more calming and less distracting environment.
Taste/Smell: A bag of chips may not only be bad for someone’s waistline, but can be a distraction when studying. Make sure your kids are not hungry when they are studying so they can focus on what’s important. Letting them eat first, then study, will keep them from interrupting their studying because they are searching for more food to satisfy their belly. If they are not hungry, but still need to chew, they can always use and oral-motor tool to keep them busy and help them concentrate.
You know when someone has popped popcorn immediately. The smell is very aromatic and definitely catches someone’s attention. Perfumes and colognes can also make an impact making it difficult to concentrate. Studying too close to a cafeteria, kitchen or person with strong perfume may make it difficult for kids to focus. If your kids senses need to be awakened, you can always use aromatherapy to give them a soothing sensory experience. Wherever you choose for your kids to study , keep in mind their nose may have an opinion!
Solo or Not: Some children need to study by themselves in a room with no other people. This allows them to focus and concentrate. Some children may absorb information better individually. The child that learns best without people may be easily distracted or sidetracked by another person. Other kids enjoy having someone around, and may even learn best while studying with another person in a question answer format or by simply teaching each other the information.
When your looking to optimize a study environment, don’t forget to consider if its 90 degrees or 50 degrees, if there is a jack hammer outside your window, or if you just popped popcorn in a room with 10 people!
What else do you take into consideration when creating an optimal study environment?