The recent closure of schools and shift to Home Based Learning (HBL) caught may Singaporeans off guard. Many students and parents are extremely concerned about how this abrupt change will affect their performance in school. A quick look at popular channels such as Reddit, confirms these fears. The general consensus is that the environment at home is not always suitable for effective learning. In this article, we provide 7 tips to create a conducive learning environment at home, to prepare for the transition to online learning.
1) Designate a specific study space
The first step is to designate an area solely for the purpose of online learning and studying. It does not necessarily have to be an entire room - you can carve out a segment of a room - but ensure that no other activities will take place here. Pay special attention to obtain the right lighting and temperature that is ideal for learning to take place.
2) Eliminate distractions
Remove distractions such as the television, gaming consoles, exercise equipment or even comfortable beds from your line of sight. This is self-explanatory. As much as possible, eliminate distracting noises by locating the study space away from the living room or dining area, where entertainment and discussions take place. Lastly, remove background noises (loud air conditioning systems, dripping water) by getting any faulty appliances fixed!
3) Have appropriate equipment and study materials ready
The equipment for online learning need not be expensive. For online learning, you will need an electronic device that can connect to the internet. This can be in the form of a tablet, desktop or laptop. You are recommended to use a device with a screen size that is sufficient for reading notes, assignments and other materials. This is especially crucial for subjects like Economics and Mathematics where diagrams and graphs can used. You will also need a pair of earphones to follow the lesson. Next, test your designated study area for smooth internet connection before commencing lessons. Bad connections are unwanted distractions that will dampen the learning experience. Lastly, have your study materials such as pen, paper and other stationery within your arm's reach so you may access them when needed!
4) Get comfortable, but not too comfortable There are three key elements to consider here. Firstly, lighting should ideally be brighter and cooler white light. Position yourself so that you are not under direct light but still in a well lit area that is not blocked by shadows. Secondly, get a comfortable chair that puts you in an upright stance. Slouching or poor posture can lead to backaches and reduce the ability to concentrate. While sitting in bed or lying on a couch might be relaxing, it also sends nap signals to your brain. Lastly, set the room at a temperature that is adjusted to your preference. This is unique to each individual so find your own sweet spot!
5) Personalize your study space
Nothing feels more welcoming than a personalized area. Hang up achievements you are proud of, decorate it with quotes from people you idolize or paint it in a color you love. The general rule of thumb is: maximize positivity by having things that brighten your mood. Happy students make better students because they are naturally able to learn better!
6) Put the phone away
This is pretty straightforward and seemingly obvious. While being well-connected to our friends and family has us closer, it can also prevent us from focusing on our tasks at hand. Nothing is more distracting than the constant buzz from text messages or social media updates that are infinitely more interesting (trust us, we know.) than the mathematical problems in front of you.
7) Schedule in break times
Develop a study a routine that involves adequate rest times. Ideally, you should schedule in a short 15 minutes break every 2-3hours. Have a change of scenery by moving away from your study area. Look out the window to enjoy the view or do simple stretches to loosen any stiff muscles. As the saying goes: "Rest and recharge to prepare yourself to go the distance". Famous physicist, Albert Einstein, used to take periodic naps because he believed that a fresh brain is necessary to maximize learning. Many people suffer from burnout without realizing it, so don't fall into this trap! A rested mind can achieve many times more than a stressed and tired one.
While this list may not be exhaustive, we hope that following these tips can help transform your home into a conducive and optimal study environment. Our online students reported better learning efficiency after adopting some of these tips and we hope you will benefit from them too.
Got other suggestions to improve the study environment at home? Feel free to leave a comment below!