Fourth-grader Marbella was moving on to the fifth grade. But academically, the previous year had been a struggle. Both a lack of discipline among the students in her classroom and her own difficulty in focusing seemed to be causing problems. So her parents tried to give her a separate academic space inside the house to help her concentrate. "She glanced at the tiny alcove snuggled between the banister and a window overlooking the street," Berler wrote. "A white work desk and matching chair now occupied the space. The desk set was brand-new. Her mom and dad had placed it in the alcove.... Last year, in fourth grade, she'd done her studying at the kitchen table amid a hubbub of barking dogs, chatty sisters, and Mom preparing dinner."