Study smart - creating a calm work space

GCSE and A level results in hand, your 16 and 18 year olds may have recently begun a new chapter of their academic lives, keen to capitalise on their success or build on their results at sixth form college or university. Time waits for no man, and the annual 'heads down' for 2024 exams has begun in earnest, and so you may be considering the space you have available for study and how you provide a conducive study environment for your children.

Although the academic year has begun, it’s never too late to plan for those late night cramming sessions, and now is a good a time to work with your children to create a calm space for them, whatever the size of the space and wherever it’s located.

A learning environment can have a huge impact on the success of study, and those who work in a calm environment have better outcomes than those in a chaotic space. Students who learn in a positive environment are more motivated, better engaged and develop an overall higher learning ability.

What to consider in a study space? Comfortable seating, light levels, noise levels, room colour and general layout. Being comfortable means your child will stay focussed for longer, helping them to absorb more information.

The brain's ability to focus can be greatly enhanced by the right lighting, and those studying in well-lit areas consistently achieve higher grades, and so a study space should be close to a natural source of light if possible. Natural light works best to improve behaviour, create less anxiety and stress, and improve overall health, but if you don’t have a source of natural light close by, it can be mimicked with a specialist light bulb.

Learning in a quiet environment, away from where a student rests, improves learning. Not everyone has lots of space though, and if space is a premium in your house you can double up a bedroom – just try to split the space into rest and work. A room divider or bookcase could do the trick.

Many other factors come into play – colour, greenery, decoration and clutter. Neutral colours promote calmness in general when working, as does surrounding oneself with natural materials, textures and light, as it allows us to connect with nature and improves wellbeing. A study space with lush greenery, great lighting and calm colours will work wonders. Clearing the space will promote a feeling of calm, not to mention stop your children from finding something else to concentrate on instead of revision.

Keeping their space quiet will improve concentration – working from the kitchen table means noise but working in a dedicated area means they have a space dedicated to learning and that sets them up for a more productive homework or revision session.