Children With Clean Rooms Get Better Grades. Here’s Why.
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.
Why cleaner rooms make for 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.
How clutter harms the family
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:
- Leads to higher levels of stress
- Encourages taking unhealthy diet and stress-eating
- Triggers respiratory issues, as more stuff leads to more dust
- Distresses your kids
- Induces anxiety and affects your social life
- Encourages bad spending habits
- Decreases productivity
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.
5 ways to raise a clutter-free child
- Be an example: Cleanliness, like charity, begins at home. So, if you want your child to be clean and his room, clutter-free, you must practise what you preach. If he sees you cleaning the house and organising the rooms, he will follow suit.
- Make it a game: For little children, cleaning a room might be a little tedious. So, turn it into a game of ‘Who puts all the toys in the basket first?’ or ‘Who folds all the clothes first?’ When not a chore, a basic activity can seem like a lot of fun.
- Teach them to give and let go: Teaching your child the importance of donating items to those less fortunate, is an important life skill. Depending on how much you have, organise a donation once every two months. This will also teach your child the importance of valuing her possessions and letting go of things she does not need.
- Assign a place for everything: This will only help you and your child be more organised. When there is a set place for everything, he will know where to put his things once he has stopped using them. Explain to him why it’s important to have an assigned place for everything. Also, discuss with him regarding finding a place for new items. This will give him a sense of ownership.
- Own less, be more: Look at all your possessions. How many of these things do you really need? Do you ever buy stuff just for the sake of buying? Give away the things you don’t use, reduce the amount of new stuff you buy and keep your possessions organised to make your home clutter-free. Lesser stuff won’t just free up space in your house, they’ll also free up some valuable time in your day.
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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