Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a conversation with your child that started with something
like this …
“Mom … where’s my lunch?” (asked right as you’re pulling into the school parking lot)
“Dad … I left my essay for history class at home. Will you please bring it to the school office?”
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “For every minute spent in organization, an hour is earned.” Being organized makes life more productive and more peaceful — two things which we all desire for our children. Of course, organizational ability comes more naturally to some kids than it does to others. But regardless of where your child stacks up in this arena, there are several things you can do to build their organizational prowess.
Make “To Do” Lists
Not only are checklists useful for keeping things well-ordered, they can actually help grow your child’s time management and strategic thinking skills. Create daily and/or weekly lists to record and prioritize homework assignments. If you want your child’s list to reflect the full range of their responsibilities, have them add things like chores and sports practices. Choose a medium that is age-appropriate and child-specific — from a simple single sheet of paper for younger children to planners or apps (like Wunderlist and Google Keep) for older kids.
Set Up a Study Area and a Routine
Have a space which is specifically designated for homework and studying. Make sure the area is free of distractions and stocked with all of the materials needed for your child to effectively complete assignments. Consider establishing a dedicated study time to boost time management and scheduling skills. Have your child stick to that study time even on days they don’t have homework. They can make valuable use of a “free night” reading or reinforcing a new concept they learned during the week.
Use Binders and Notebooks
Remove the chaos of disorganized paperwork by using binders or notebooks. Find a system that works best for your child — whether using dividers to separate papers by subject area or by using some sort of color system (e.g., a different color of notebook for each subject). Having well-organized paperwork will help prevent valuable information from getting lost. It will also allow your child to be more effective when it comes time to review information before a test.
Keep Extra Supplies on Hand
How many times have you made a mad dash to the store because your child ran out of supplies in the middle of doing homework or working on a project? You can mitigate this stressful situation by keeping extra school supplies on hand. Put them in a designated storage container, along with an inventory list so your child can indicate when they’ve taken something from your stockpile.
Get Ready for the Day Ahead
Take the stress out of the morning routine by helping your child prepare for the school day ahead of time. Each night, have them pack up their books, work, and any supplies they will need for the next day, and place them in a designated spot for pick-up in the morning (e.g., by the front door). Train them to pick out the clothes and shoes they will wear, so they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. If your child is allowed to bring electronic devices to school, make sure they are plugged in before “lights out” to fully charge.
Have your child go through their backpack once a week. Loose schoolwork (homework, tests) should be put in the appropriate notebook or binder. Toss out debris such as food wrappers. And collect wayward supplies from the bottom of the backpack and put them in a zippered pouch. Clutter = Chaos.
The gift of organization is a precious one, and one that will serve students well throughout their educational journey and well beyond. Be your child’s biggest cheerleader as they embark on their organizational odyssey.
If you have any other tips on getting kids organized, we’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below.