Are you bothered about the mess in your child’s room? Also, does a dip in his academic performance worry you? Well, the two may be more closely related than you think.
By Leena Ghosh
Rohan was always a good student in middle school. He was consistently in the top 10 per cent of his class. However, by the time he reached high school, his grades began to drop. Around this time, his mother Lakshmi noticed that he cared less about keeping his room clean. There were books lying everywhere, clothes dumped on the bed and food items all over his study table.
Rohan’s mom decided to take up an issue at a time and encouraged her son to organise his room. She told him to tidy up his room every day at an allotted time. Rohan listened to her and kept his room clutter-free. When the next set of exams came along, he performed well, bringing his grades back to the level they were at previously. Pleasantly surprised, Lakshmi wondered if there was any connection between a cleaner room and better grades.
A 2011 study, ‘Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex’, published in the journal of neuroscience by S McMains and S Kastner found that cleanliness and good grades are, in fact, related. The study explained that when there’s a lot of clutter in your child’s room, each object competes for his attention. Thus, it becomes harder for him to fully focus on one particular object, such as his textbook. A clutter-free room will reduce the number of distractions and enhance his focus while studying.
Many parents may think that simply cleaning up their children’s rooms would ensure better grades but it’s a little more complex than that. Academic performance depends on a number of factors including genetic influences, socio-economic background, support from parents, quality of teachers and inherent motivation to learn. A clean room is just one among many factors.
Clutter is harmful for all members of the family and simply cleaning your child’s room or desk isn’t enough. Keeping the rest of the house clutter-free is just as important. Here are just some of the ways clutter hurts you:
Children need a certain degree of order and structure; so an overly cluttered house can leave them feeling unsafe and insecure. Having too many things around them all the time can leave them feeling overstimulated. This overstimulation affects their ability to focus and thereby impairs their academic performance. What’s more, clutter leaves parents overwhelmed as well. In their bid to clean up the mess, they tend to spend lesser quality time with their kids. The clutter may also leave them feeling emotionally exhausted, so they’re unable to focus on their children.
Growing up in an uncluttered house will also teach your child the importance of staying organised. Children are masters of imitation. So, if your child sees you keeping things neat from a young age, she too will copy this behaviour. And ultimately, when she is old enough to have her own room, she will know how to keep it tidy. With minimal clutter, her academic performance will improve. But more importantly, she will be healthier and happier.
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