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Tidying up can do more than 'spark joy.' It can help your kids be academic rockstars.

Let's face it, cleaning your house can be a pain, but the after effects come with way more benefits than you might realize.

[rebelmouse-image 19346195 dam="1" original_size="750x487" caption="Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

I know, I know, even the word "clean" probably just made you groan aloud. And it's not like you haven't meant to get your living room, bedroom, kids' rooms, and office sorted. In fact, you've probably watched the entire Marie Kondo series on Netflix and thought: "my family's definitely going to do that this year."


If you've been putting off tidying up though, here's something to think about: cleaning up your space won't just make you feel better, it sets up your kids for success in school.

Research shows that keeping a tidy house has a positive effect on kids' productivity and learning.

Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash.

A 2001 study conducted at The University of Michigan followed kids from school-age to adulthood and found that kids whose homes were rated "clean," were far more likely to do well in school and earn more money in adulthood.

That's because "Keeping a clean and organized home reflects an overall ability and desire to maintain a sense of order in a wide range of life activities," Rachel Dunifon, the head author of the study, wrote.

More recently, research out of Princeton and UCLA has provided evidence that clutter in the home is a deterrent when it comes to living our best lives. Because our brains can only focus on so much information at once, the presence of mess in the home can pull focus, leading to both distraction and stress. And that goes double for kids, who are just learning to focus.

"The area of the brain responsible for organization, planning, and working memory [among other things], does not become fully consolidated until around age 25," explains Merriam Sarcia Saunders, a psychotherapist and expert in the treatment of ADHD.

"That means children don't have a ready access to the ability to organize. They must look to the adults in their life to scaffold that ability and teach those skills until the child can begin to generalize them into their daily routine."

If the adults don't step up to teach their children these valuable skills, children likely won't pick them on their own.

This is not to say that your house always has to be sparkling. Life happens, and often makes that impossible. But a home that's disorganized on the regular can lead to problems.

[rebelmouse-image 19346197 dam="1" original_size="750x497" caption="Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Even the cleanest homes can get disorganized. Not making decluttering a priority, however, can create problems in the long run.

"A disorganized environment with clutter strewn about could be quite over-stimulating for a child," Saunders explains.

It can make it difficult for kids to concentrate, settle down, or even fall asleep at night. And if a child lives in a home that's disorganized enough that they can't find their things, they may feel lost and out-of-place on a larger scale.

"The constant inability to find necessary things like matching socks, clean clothes, that second shoe, a cherished toy or perhaps important documents like homework and permission slips, can increase stress hormones to a chronic level," adds Saunders. "At the least, it can ultimately cause a child to simply stop trying as they can never find what they need."

However, you can begin giving your kids the tools they need to succeed in life by making them an integral part of keeping the house comfortable and organized.

[rebelmouse-image 19346198 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash.

Children, Saunders points out, learn by watching others and then doing themselves. So when parents involve their kids in the cleaning process they're learning what to strive for.

"A clutter-free environment allows for better focus, which can lead to increased creativity and productivity," she explains. "Organization and routines, especially for children, provide a sense of structure which is calming, and often leads to better habits for eating and sleeping."

Ready to get that house clean? Here are just a few tips that will help you help your kids have a surefire chance at a better academic life.

Image by StockSnap on Pixabay.

The first thing you might need to do is lower your expectations just a little, Saunders explains. While many parents tell their kids to "clean your room," it's important to understand that children are likely to have no idea what that actually means. And if they've never had a truly organized room before, it may be asking too much too quickly. Organization is a skill. And that means it's got to be practiced in order to become second nature.

Start by working with your kids to organize their toys in clear plastic bins, Saunders advises. Put clothes in baskets. If your kids can see where their things are supposed to go, they'll be more likely to put them away. If your children are young, consider labeling each bin and basket with pictures. And consider getting rid of things that your kids may not like or rarely use. Less toys doesn't mean less creativity!

"Once the room is clean, ask them to put away just one, tiny thing — a pair of socks, a belt, one toy — and praise them for a job well done," Saunders adds.

"The next day, organize the room again, and this time ask your child to put away two things. Add one thing each day, remembering to praise, until the task no longer feels overwhelming."

This will give children a sense of accomplishment and pride. And it's a nice way to teach them that they have control over some things, as well.

No matter how stressful life can get outside the house, coming home will make them feel calmer and less anxious. And that's a good thing when it comes to sitting down to do homework.

Image by nastya_gepp on Pixabay.

The calm of clean may even set your kids on a path to helping others. Jayera Griffin, a 14-year-old from Chicago, for example, has started a program called Free Laundry Day. With the help from her local laundromat and Clorox—as part of their What Comes Next Project—she's made it possible for people in her community to get their laundry washed for free every week.

No doubt her drive to give back in this way started in a clean home.

But no matter what your children's future looks like, it's sure to be brighter if they have a clean place to come home to every day.

Clorox believes clean has the power to transforms lives, which is why they've partnered with Upworthy to promote those same traits in people, actions and ideas. Cleaning up and transformation are important aspects of many of our social good stories. Check out the rest in the campaign to read more.

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Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

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Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

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“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

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As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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