Design the Perfect Home Learning Corner for Your Child

Guest post by Susan Good

The kitchen table might seem like the best spot for your child to do homework, but the truth is, it’s far from an ideal space for learning. Sure, it lets you keep an eye on your little one, but it’s also an area rife with distraction. Not to mention, using a multi-purpose space for homework means paper, pencils, and other supplies have to be brought in and cleaned up every day, and that takes time. Instead of sitting your kids down in the busiest spot in the house, create a distraction-free learning corner where they can get lost in their studies.

A learning corner doesn’t need to be a dedicated room, but it should be a quiet area without much traffic. A corner of your own home office, a guest bedroom, or a formal dining room are all good candidates. Make sure no one else will be using the space to watch TV or do anything else that will pull your child’s attention away from learning.

Outfit your child’s learning corner with a desk or table stocked with all the supplies he needs. When homework supplies are where your child needs them, there’s no getting up every five minutes to grab something.

Don’t eschew technology in the learning corner; computers and tablets can be great educational tools. If your child is prone to online distraction, use parental controls to block specific sites during homework time. While there are a number of ways to apply parental controls, browser extensions are the easiest. Read TechNorms’ guide to learn how to use them.

Don’t let the learning corner turn into an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. Check in regularly to see if your child needs help and keep him on track so homework doesn’t drag on forever.

Finally, remember that homework isn’t the only form that learning takes. Create a space that invites all sorts of learning, not just studying at a desk. Do this by incorporating fun elements that make children want to spend time in their learning corner.

Here are some ideas that kids are sure to love:

  • Art supplies: Art isn’t just fun for kids, it also plays an important role in their development. According to PBS, making art strengthens motor skills, language development, visual learning, decision making, and more. When art supplies are kept in your child’s learning corner, it’s easier to keep messes contained.
  • Educational magazines: If you have a reluctant reader, stock your learning corner with educational magazines. Magazines are less intimidating than books and they’re full of images to keep kids engaged. Even for avid readers, magazines are a great way to mix up your child’s reading material. For great educational magazines to stock in your home, check out these suggestions from We are Teachers.
  • A bean bag chair: It’s the little things that make life fun, like sitting in a bean bag chair while getting lost in a story. Plus, bean bag chairs come in a variety of sizes, which makes them easy to fit into a variety of spaces and to stow away in a closet if need be. You can find a ton of great options online — involve your child in the choice to make her feel more included in the set up.
  • A colorful rug: You don’t have to redecorate the entire room to make the learning corner kid-friendly. With a colorful patterned rug, you can turn any old corner into a space your kid thinks is cool. Other ideas for decorating the learning corner include educational posters and maps, floating bookshelves, and a fabric bulletin board.

If you had to sit at the kitchen table to do all your work, you probably wouldn’t be thrilled about it either. By creating a learning corner in your home, you cut out distractions and reinforce routines so your child can become immersed in the learning experience. Another benefit? You finally get your kitchen table back, so there’s no more fighting for space when dinner time rolls around.

Rethinking When To Take The SAT/ACT

Dealing with the SAT/ACT is similar to the check engine light on our car. Until it alerts us, we’re not proactive about handling it.

Ask most and Spring for Juniors and Fall for Seniors are the most popular times to take the tests, but they aren’t necessarily the best times for a maximum score.

For example, summer time or winter break are when students least prefer to take the SAT/ACT, but contextually it’s when they have the least amount of schoolwork.

Preparing for the SAT/ACT is like reviewing for Finals. Cramming doesn’t work and the more focused time without distractions from other classes gives you the best chance to get higher scores.

As a parent, convincing your teen to prep for the SAT/ACT will be like pulling teeth so you might as well suggest the optimal time to increase their chances of succeeding in fewer tries.

Since both tests are offered on average every other month, there’s not really a “best time” to take them. A one size fits all approach shouldn’t be considered. Help your child step back and take a big picture look at their academic schedule in high school. From there carve out a few months where they’ll have the least amount of other activities so they can put in the time to get their desired results.

You shouldn’t be pressured into taking the test because your friends are taking it at a certain time. There’s an “ignorance” factor with SAT/ACT prep where we default to the popular times because we’re too lazy to do our own research.

One way we an alleviate some of that stress you may be feeling is by filling out this Student Profile Form and we’ll set up a complimentary 30 minute video meet and greet to discuss test taking strategy. Once you have a game plan you can execute on it.

Without one it’s like throwing darts with a blindfold on.

Let us help you “see” the best option for your teen.

If A Test Prep Company Guarantees A Point Increase, Run!

Benjamin Franklin said there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.

So if a test prep company guarantees a certain amount of points increase on the SAT or ACT: run fast!

There are too many factors in point increases including: new material learned, how much studying between sessions is done, comprehension, test anxiety, enough sleep the night before, the higher your initial score; the harder it is to increase next time accordingly, etc.

Guarantees are more of a desperation sales tactic. It’s getting the sale and offering a money back guarantee if it doesn’t happen. Bold, but at the same time crazy.

Tutors don’t take the test. Students do.

If anything a tutor can provide it’s accountability. It’s challenging for a student to be motivated to take the SAT or ACT, yet much more challenging without some additional help.

Parents, we welcome your involvement in the tutoring process. It’s why we invite you to the complimentary 30 minute video meet and greet with your child and tutor. You can request recordings of any tutoring session to review. Our hope is with our transparency we can earn your trust.

Students don’t want “helicopter” parents, but we also understand parents are paying for this service. They deserve to know what’s going on.

Focus on constant communication in the form of update emails, phone calls, student-tutor, tutor-parent and parent-company conversations. Similar to an annual review, there should be no surprises about an outcome if the feedback is regular.

We’d love to offer a score increase guarantee, but the problem is it’d be a lie. Doing business ethically is more important to us than just another sale. When it comes to serving families we try our best to put our money where our mouth is.

Why Study Habits Beat Study Goals

When it comes to preparing for the SAT or ACT there’s a goal score and dream school in mind.

With any goal in order to maximize your chances of attaining them breaking it into smaller pieces is crucial to your success.

Did you know that creating good study habits for test prep is more important than the goal you set?

Here’s why:

Take for example, your fitness goal is losing 20 pounds. Setting a weekly goal of weight loss is typical, but the results fluctuate based on a number of different factors. The better method is to set the habit of going to the gym for 45 minutes 3 – 5 times per week. The time it takes to lose 20 pounds may differ than your timeline, but focusing on the habit will get you to our goal eventually.

As for test prep, the higher the score or more prestigious the university closing the gap to a perfect score becomes harder.

If you plan on studying 2 1/2 hours per week until the test date it’s unrealistic to find that chunk of time during the week on top of your regular homework.

Instead why not set the habit of spending 30 minutes daily for test prep reviewing the problems you got incorrect on the practice test

Daily test prep influences the timeline in which you feel ready to score well on the test. If you start this process now, chances are you’ll have a choice as to which test date to sign up for in the future.

Think of good study habits as a means to your end goal.

Rather than apply more pressure to yourself, stick to creating good study habits and you’ll relieve some test anxiety.

When preparing for the SAT or ACT set good study habits from the start. It’s the foundation that sets you up for reaching your academic goals.

Battling Test Anxiety: Watch The Clock

One of the most overlooked strategies to beating the SAT/ACT is pacing.

For example the ACT moves faster than the SAT, yet what really matters is knowing how much time to allow for each section prior to test day.

Most students tend to favor the Math or English section over the other so factor in completing the easier problems first then leave extra time to re-check your answers.

Since there isn’t any penalty for guessing incorrectly, there’s no reason to leave any answers blank.

You also don’t need to go chronologically in order especially if you can instantly identify what type of problem you’re solving.

The reality is: when are you ever going to take a 4-hour test in your high school career?

If you don’t take practice tests as part of your preparation to build your endurance, mentally you’ll fold on test day.

Most of the time anxiety stems from the unknown, so that’s why our tutors help demystify the test so you know what to expect.

Being prepared is the best strategy you can have to achieve an optimal score and time management can be the foundation on which to build on.