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Organization Tools for Students

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

The more clear students are on what organizational tools and habits work best for them, the better prepared they will be physically and mentally.

Organization As A Tool

The school year has come and gone. Hijacked by COVID19, I know you all have a story or two (or 75 million) about homeschooling. Whether you feel good or bad about how things went in your household with distance learning, I’m willing to bet:

  • It went smoother than you think.

  • You learned a thing or two about you child as a learner – especially when it comes to organization.

This is where organization tools for students come in handy. As a teacher, I learned pretty quickly that a great deal of a “successful” lesson depended on how organized I was ahead of time. The same is true for students: the more clear they are on what organizational tools and habits work best for them, the better prepared they will be physically — which helps them get in a mentally prepared state faster — and therefore makes learning easier.

Prepare Now

I’m quite certain you really don’t want to think about school right now. Not in the middle of summer! But, the time is RIPE. You have no pressure to be anything (school-related I mean), yet the not-so-distant memory of being your child’s school and teacher all in one is still fresh, which makes it a great time for reflection. In your journal, or using your favorite note-taking app, take awhile to think on the following questions:

  1. Does my child have a process fo organizing his/her school materials and assignments? What is it? Is it clear enough that I can write it down? Does it work?

  2. Does my child organize his/her time well and get assignments completed in a timely manner? If not, why not? Be specific. What happens instead?

You could easily think through these questions in your head, but taking the time to write out your responses will end up giving you a lot more information — plus it will be easier to remember. See, the beauty of doing this exercise well before school starts is that you can do it in pieces. Reflect today. Come back to it in a few weeks, or even a month! Having your reflection written down will make it easier to remember later.

Now What?

If the answer to both questions is YES, make time to compliment your child. Let him/her know you noticed and are impressed by how well they organized their school stuff. Organization and time management are two really big essential life skills. The younger children are when they learn what works for them, the better off they are! (As an aside, if they don’t already do this, help them understand how to apply these skills to responsibilities or hobbies outside of academics too.) However, if the answer is NO to the questions above, here are a few tips and tricks that have worked for many of my students over the years:

Organize Tasks

  • Write down tasks – don’t just rely on your memory! Together, choose an agenda, app, or even set of post-it notes for your child to use.

  • Prioritize tasks according to due date, length of assignment or complexity. Get the low-hanging fruit out of the way quickly and schedule ample time for longer, harder assignments.

Organize Materials

  • If your child has a hard time finding his/her school things, try color coding them. Whether it’s folders and notebooks, or a section in a binder, math can be blue; science can be green; social studies – orange; and language arts items red.

  • Together with your child, choose one spot in the house where his/her school things will be kept safe between school and wherever s/he works at home. This will help things from getting lost between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next.

  • Similarly, choose a place your child knows s/he can leave things you need to sign or review to be sure you’ll get them even if you’re not home or you don’t look at the items together.

Organize Time

  • Together with your child, create a Schoolwork Time Checklist. Let your child choose cool paper and fun pens to make it, then laminate it so s/he can reuse it. The purpose of the checklist is to help your child make sure s/he completed everything necessary. Include things like:

    • Did I …. check my agenda to be sure I knew all of today’s assignments? … complete all assignments due tomorrow? … check my work? … etc.

  • Have a timer that your child keeps in his/her work space at home. Set it for 10-15-20 minute chunks of time, as appropriate. After 20 minutes of working, take a 3 minute break to wiggle and then continue.

  • Put electronics AWAY during work time. Unless required to do his/her work, cell phones, iPads, or tablets invite your child to be distracted. It’s so much easier to concentrate without these devices lurking nearby – work will get finished much faster as a result!

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. Use this quiet time while school is closed for the summer to prepare for the busy time that will come again soon. Once you put a system in place with your child, be consistent in helping him/her create these new habits. Check in daily for at least a month. Change things up that really aren’t working, and then spend another few weeks with daily check ins. Before you know it, you child will reach a whole new level of independence!

Categories: parenting resources, academics

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