Have you seen my backpack? Where’s my permission slip? I lost my homework! If you have kids in school, the odds are good that you hear one of these sayings (or others) at least a few times each week. It doesn’t matter whether they are in kindergarten or high school, organization is a skill that kids must be taught – and taught early. It’s time to stop the chaos and enjoy a calmer, more organized school year.
The Power of the To-Do List
Moms are masters of the to-do list. How else would they manage to get it all done? If your child seems overwhelmed by their school load, it may be time to teach them how to make their own checklist.
Kids today have a lot on their plate, and keeping all of those school assignments, extracurricular activities and projects under control isn’t always easy. Keeping a running to-do checklist is a great way to keep kids on task while offering a sense of accomplishment as they mark done items off the list.
Depending on the child’s age you can help them design a checklist as simple or as in-depth as needed. For instance, a kindergartener may only need a basic list of homework assignments each day, while an older student may benefit most from a detailed list that outlines all current and upcoming assignments and extracurricular activities (including chores) for the entire week.
Some families even benefit from a large family calendar (either hanging on the wall or synced to everyone’s smartphones), in order to keep track of who is where and what projects need attention.
Make Studying a Priority
Organization is key when it comes to keeping kids (and adults) on track. This includes establishing solid study habits. Educators have learned that there are two main ways students can make their homework time more productive:
- Set aside a specific place to study. This can be a certain room, table, desk, or corner. The important things to remember are to find a quiet place that encourages studying as well as making the proper tools available.
- Set a specific time to study. Kids thrive on consistency. If they know that from 5-6 every night they must pull out those books and work, it will become a habit that nothing will interfere with.
Are you tired of rushing around the evening before a big project is due helping your child get it finished? Cut the chaos by setting plenty of milestones designed to keep your young student on task. For instance, when your child announces a project, sit down immediately and break it up into stages; assigning deadlines to each one. For example, if your high schooler has an essay due in one month, set the first deadline for gathering information, followed by an outline the next week; rough draft the week after that and the final version on deadline day. By outlining each phase of a project and setting firm deadlines, you will help your kid stay focused and eliminate those last minute rushes to finish. Plus, they are good reminders for you as a parent to check their progress!
Institute a Weekly Cleanup Day
No matter how hard you try to keep ahead of loose papers, permission slips and other priorities, things still seem to slip through our fingers. Now, imagine you are a child who has not yet learned how to get and stay organized.
One way to keep the school year running smoothly is to institute a weekly cleanup day where each child (and adult) in the family gathers to empty out their backpack, briefcase, purse or whatever you use to collect your own personal “stuff.”
For kids, this helps to clear out old papers; bring important ones to the surface; get rid of junk (like used wrappers) and simply get organized. Not only will it help keep that backpack from becoming a horrible mess, but will help your kid keep those important assignments at the forefront of their mind.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Without preparation, organization is impossible. The easiest way to keep your morning (and evenings) calmer, is to help your students prepare for the next day. This means laying out clothes for the next day, gathering homework and supplies, and packing everything that is needed for school the next day and setting it near the door. What only takes a few minutes in the evening can save a lot of stress and time in the morning. Don’t let disorganization make your day harder.
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