May 18, 2024
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Why Your Children Need A study

By John Odyek        

Many Ugandan parents want their children to excel in academics. Oftentimes, they reach out to the teachers to find out how their children are progressing with their studies.

Yet some of these parents live with their children in homes which do not have study facilities to encourage the kids to read and do assignments in a quiet environment.

As a result, children do their homework in the kitchens and living rooms where they get distracted by adults, television, and so on. But it is not only children who need a study or a reading room in a home.

A study, also known as a home office, is a room in a house that can be used by the family to read and write as well as serve as a library or storage facility for paperwork and tools of your trade like a computer.

This space also doubles as a workspace where in-person or virtual meetings can be held. But why don’t we have study rooms in our houses and what do we need to do going forward?

Cuthbert Abigaba, the vice chairperson of Parliament’s committee on education and sports says a study is an important part of a house as it creates a conducive reading or learning environment within a home.

“Children in homes without study spaces are distracted a lot as they try to read and do their work.  If a student is reading in the sitting room with the television and radio switched on and family members and visitors conversing, they may not concentrate,” he adds.

Encourages reading

A study stocked with learning materials, Abigaba notes, encourages reading. He says that modern architects need to incorporate study spaces in the design of buildings.

Josephine Nabende, the principal at the Blessed Victors Senior School in Mityana district says a study is essential to both children and adults in a home as it encourages them to undertake individual reading and reflection.

“You cannot do this in a place with distraction. You need to be alone to reflect and innovate,” she notes. “Every house needs a study room. Of course, some families may not have these spaces since they do not have enough space for accommodation,”

Better learning outcomes

A 2022 study published in the international Learning Environments Research journal says a learner needs their room and necessary equipment in a home for better learning outcomes and mental well-being.

It adds that students in homes which have study rooms were more motivated and performed better than their counterparts who undertook online classes in spaces used for other purposes like dining rooms in various parts of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emmanuel Ssinabulya, the president of the Uganda Society of Architects says, with the cost of building a standard house ranging from sh70m and sh90m, some homeowners do not include a study in their houses to keep the expenditure under control. He adds that weak reading culture is part of the reason homeowners do not include reading rooms in their houses.

“The Ugandan culture of reading is not as strong as that of developed countries (where houses include study spaces),” he says. Even students want to search for answers online rather than read 500 pages of a book,” 

However, the other reason, Ssinabulya, is the thinking that associates reading with school. “The inability of most of our educated people to read for pleasure before and after graduation is indicative of this problem,” Ssinabulya notes.

Good for research

Regardless of your occupation, he says you need a study or home office where you can even keep the tools of your trade.

“The space should be well-lit. You need basic furniture and books and stationery supplies in this space. Reading rooms are needed so much now that our education system is promoting research and innovation,” Ssinabulya says. “The absence of study rooms has encouraged more screen time which is not healthy,”

Flavia Bwire, the executive secretary at the National Building Review Board says integrating a study in the architectural designs of the building or not is partly determined by how much one wants to spend on the house.

She adds that including reading space in a commercial apartment could increase the price. These, coupled with the weak reading culture are partly responsible for the absence of reading rooms in our houses, Bwire explains. “Some Ugandans do not like reading. When they are at home, they watch television,” she adds.  

Online lessons

With many people now meeting virtually, the absence of study rooms in homes, some people have argued, is compelling people to go to their workplaces to attend lessons or meetings they could have attended from the comfort of their houses.

Andrew Muhwezi, the president of the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers says the decision to have a study or not is also informed by the size of land available for building a house.

“Many people are buying plots of 50 by 100 feet,” he adds. “The small size of plots may limit planning the space for study rooms,”

Reading and self-study, Muhwezi explains, are not ingrained in Uganda’s culture, and many people would rather spend time in entertainment places than in libraries or reading. “Coaching persists because people think knowledge is administered through teacher and learner interface, not self-study,” he adds.

A study is a good place for your children to do assignments and keep their learning materials

Learning starts at home

Dr Dennis Mugimba, the spokesperson at the ministry of education and sports, says learning or reading does not take place at school alone. Rather, he adds, learning starts at home.

“Schools are enablers of what (education) has started at home,” he adds. “We need to address this. During the COVID-19 lockdown, people had bedrooms, sitting rooms and garages, but did not have space for studying,”

Mugimba wonders where people without study rooms keep the tools of their trades like books, musical instruments and materials used in making art pieces within their homes.

“We design homes for sleeping. There is studying during the school holidays. A study room does not increase the cost of a building. Instead, it increases the functionality and value of the house,” he adds.

Rose Nakimu, an economics lecturer at the School of Economics at Makerere University, says the pandemic should have opened many people’s eyes to the significance of having study rooms within houses.

“People were stuck at home and children were not going to school. As a lecturer, I think clearly when there is no distraction,” she adds. “A good study room should have a table and a chair,”

Lasting impact

The Government and relevant institutions, she says, could advise the people seeking to build homes to include study rooms in their designs as some might not appreciate the value of such a facility.

“It encourages reading and when children start reading from childhood, they develop a reading culture. They gain life skills and gain knowledge beyond what is taught at school,” Nakimu adds.

A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice shows that exposing children to a home learning environment early on has lasting effects on their learning outcomes.

Rehema Kahunde, a research analyst at the Economic Policy Research Centre at Makerere University, however, says while reading rooms are ideal in each home, many Ugandans cannot have them.

“People are renting rooms for sh100, 000 per month and cannot afford the luxury of having study rooms. Such parents can create reading spaces outside their houses,”

A study room is as important as any other part of your house. Having one in your house will not only improve its functionality but also shift your reading experience and encourage creativity.

Benefits of study rooms in homes

Teaches children to get committed to learning

Encourages children to write

Good place for children to do assignments

Build good study habits

Provides space for keeping children’s study materials

Serves as a peaceful study environment

Encourages children to be organised

Encourages collaboration among children

Ideal space for people working from home

 Sources: International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice

and Learning Environments Research Journal

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