Quiet: Kids at Work!


As school buses start to roll out, so, too, will the mounds and mounds of homework. According to the U.S. Department of Education, kids who complete more homework score better on standardized tests and get better grades than students who do less. Consult any parenting or education Web site, magazine or book, and one of the primary tips offered for effective study skills is to designate a place where kids can retreat to tackle their homework. Many families choose the kitchen table, so mom or dad can keep an eye on the student while they start dinner or pay bills.

However, the heart of the family home may not be the best place for "homework central," since it is often accompanied by a host of distractions, like a ringing phone, conversations, sibling traffic. The National Education Association, like most homework resources, recommends a quiet place devoted to study that's well-lit, distraction-free, and stocked with the school supplies and resources your child will need.

It's not just a theory that studying in quiet surroundings can contribute to homework success. A landmark study conducted by Dr. Arline Bronzaft on the adverse impact of noise on learning and reading demonstrates the importance of quiet in the learning process — in school and at home. In her studies of academic high achievers, Bronzaft interviewed members of Phi Beta Kappa, all over the age of 50, to determine academic success factors.

Interestingly enough, nearly all of them recalled a specific quiet time in their homes — quiet time to read, quiet time to complete homework and quiet time to think.

Back to the Basement
While school noise may be beyond parents' ability to control, managing home noise is well within their ability, and can significantly enhance a child's learning skills. If finding space for that quiet retreat poses a challenge, you might consider looking in the basement.

In many homes, the basement is one of the last places you'd consider for the NEA's "well-lit and distraction-free" environment, what with the storage boxes, low-wattage light bulbs and musty old furniture that typify many basement environments. But homeowners are finding that basement finishing (or refinishing) has come a long way in recent years, making it a great way to create the quiet environment necessary to help your child succeed in school, along with providing extra usable space in the home.

Refinishing a basement was once considered to be a long and messy process, but there are now systems specifically designed for basements that provide a fast and easy transformation. System approaches have some big advantages over drywall construction.

Installing a system of insulated wall components and a drop ceiling takes about two weeks to complete, versus the typical traditional multi-month remodeling process.

Supporting your little scholar while increasing your home value?

Now that's elementary!

This column was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.


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