Organizing homework assignments, projects, and reading is a challenge for many students. The “soft skills” of learning to organize and manage your time will serve your student now, in college or further education, and into his or her career.
These skills can set students up for success, but there isn’t a fourth period Organizing Class. Parents can help their kids learn these skills. If your student is struggling to keep track of everything, here are 10 ways to help:
- Involve your child in his own organization process. Remember that an organizing system that works for you may not work for your child. Let him or her guide you and produce ideas for staying organized. He or she is far more likely to take part in staying organized if it’s not someone else’s way of doing things.
- Create a “home” for your child’s school stuff. This home is where the backpack, school papers, and books can live. Most of us like to dump our bag at the end of the day, so choose a place that’s easy for him or her to access. You might also have a place he or she can hang things you need to review.
- Use a planner. Have your child pick out his or her own planner, so he/she feels more interested in it. Make sure the planner has a way to track dates and assignments each day and week. Show him/her how to write down not just due dates, but dates on which you must start the work to have it done on time.
- Set aside a time for homework each evening. This might be before dinner or after, depending on your child’s extra activities and your schedule. By designating a time for homework, you are teaching your child to manage time and make schoolwork a priority.
- Create a space for homework time. Where can your child do this work? He or she needs a desk or a table. This furniture doesn’t have to be fancy but needs to be located somewhere quiet and well lit. In smaller homes and apartments, the dining or kitchen table is a nice place to do homework. However, if the TV is nearby, adults should turn it off during homework time.
- Book time each week to review the calendar with your child. Ask him or her about upcoming school events and field trips that require permission slips or money.
- Color code and label school materials. Your child’s folders and notebooks should be color-coded, one for each class, to help keep everything straight. For example, all English assignments are in the red folder, and she has a red notebook for those class notes. If your child uses a binder instead, you might use a red tab divider. Make sure everything is labeled accordingly.
- Create a checklist. The type of checklist you need depends on your student. Maybe he or she forgets to take things to school. Then you create a checklist of the items he/she must have in the backpack before leaving. Post the list by the door.
- Schedule backpack clean out time. This might be each week or each month, depending, but make sure your student sorts through the backpack regularly. He or she can refile and reorganize papers that have strayed from folders and make sure there are enough pencils/pens, etc.
- Hold your child accountable. As your child grows, he or she must take responsibility for getting homework done, making sure you sign permission slips, packing his/her own lunch. You might start simple: he or she can set an alarm clock to get up each day.
What has helped your student stay organized? Share with us in the comments.