Hugh & Malcolm started school this morning.  For the past few weeks,  I have been plotting how to help them, study-wise, when they are back under our roof at the end of the day.  Because, with one in 11th grade and the other in 8th, grades matter now.  College is looming.  Some admissions counselor, somewhere, someday, will be looking at the results of how their afternoons are spent this year. 

So, with that in mind, here were my early thoughts:

1.  Take away Malcolm’s cell phone the minute he gets home, and give it back only when he is done with homework.  This wil eliminate his tse-tse-fly-esque attention span, caused by the constant buzzing in of texts from his teeming cloud of cyber friends.  (Trust me, you don’t want to know how many texts he sent and received this summer.  The number would send you reeling, as it did us. )

2.  Insist that Hugh stop sitting in the primo spot at our kitchen bar, parked directly in front of the HDTV on the wall, like a bar-fly at Moe’s Pub, while he cracks the books.  (Notice that both boys earn a fly anology…and notice how impressive a fly’s concentration is.  No coincidence.)

3.  Install neat, tidy desks in both of their bedrooms, and insist to each that this is where Thou Shalt Study.  From Now Until Graduation.  Or Forever and Ever, Whichever Comes First.  Amen.

Then, the New York Times weighed in with this article on how, contrary to popular belief, chaos and motion in the study environment is good.  Teacher personas?  Student learning styles?  Not really important.  Learning is better when you vary the location.  Distraction = good!  Consistency = bad! 

There are no hard and fast rules, apparently.  My take-away?  I can feel smug that our chaotic homework environment is actually helping the boys, and we don’t have to change it!   Calm dulls the brain.   Everything we thought we knew, in short, is wrong. 

Now Chris and I are off the hook when it comes to imposing draconian measures.  Except for taking Malcolm’s cell phone away.  Homework time, even if he’s standing on his head on his skateboard ramp while reading his science texbook, will now be recharging time for Mr. Phone.

This time, I mean it.

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