Samara Tilkens Postuma is raising five kids from infant to teen in the St. Michael area with her husband, Jeff. When not found driving kids to and from activities, helping with homework or at the park or pool, you can find her sharing her life online where she does some freelance writing and social media work and also writes at her own blog, www.simplicityinthesuburbs.com.

How to Stay Organized this School Year

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy, Continuing education Updated: September 1, 2014 - 9:22 PM

The first day of school is upon us and so it goes for most families, new routines, schedules, enthusiasm and the like are all a part of the season. We start the year with gusto. We will lay out clothes the night before, pack healthy lunches and go to bed early. But as time goes on it's all too easy to fall into bad habits, both students and parents alike. How do we set things up for all of us to succeed, for us to keep the momentum going both academically and at home? 

Well one piece of the puzzle in our family with five different kid schedules and four different schools is staying organized. And that's not just for us parents, the kids need to help in this department too.

At my son's open house last week, one of the questions the teacher asked us parents was one thing you hoped your child would work on this year. And without skipping a beat I wrote- ORGANIZATION! Because have you ever seen an 8 year old backpack, bedroom or desk? 

Learning how to organize oneself is a developmental skill that kids have to learn and struggle through. As organized as mom and dad are, or try to be, the child has to master it themselves. Some kids are naturally good at this, other kids aren't.

I checked in with Molly Perry owner of Academic All Star Tutoring her thoughts on school and organization and here are some tips from her:

  • The school backpack is a huge indicator of organizational issues for children.  If a student has lots of unnecessary stuff in their backpack (possibly including rodents), it shows that he/she is struggling with organization.  How can they be on top of their studies if he/she cannot find papers pushed down in the bottom of their backpack?  One quick solution to this is to empty out the back each Sunday night and organize it.  It will help a ton!
  • Students should have a quiet area to do homework.  It should be free of distractions, such as the TV or noisy siblings.  And even more important is to have it be a “cell phone” free zone.  Kids just cannot resist the temptation of responding to a text and it takes their focus away from studying.
  • When a child is working on homework it is vital that he/she has all the supplies available in the workspace area.  All too often children are roaming the house looking for a scissors, a calculator, a pencil...  This takes precious time away from actually working on the assignments.  And, often kids feel like they worked on their homework for “more than 2 hours”, but really it was only an hour and fifteen minutes because they were looking for supplies for the rest of the time.
  • We hear from parents all the time that their child does their homework, but then they don’t turn it in at school.  Oh so frustrating!  One reason for this is that students cannot find their homework after they completed it and put it in their backpack.  An easy solution to this is to have a homework only bifold folder.  On one side it says “home” (for all assignments that need to be worked on at home) and the other side has “school” (for completed work to be turned in).  It really works well!! {Sometimes teachers at school will even require students to have this kind of take home folder.}
  • As the year quarter or semester goes on for middle and high school students, they get more and more papers in their binders and folders than they really need.  One easy solution to this is to use a portable file box at home.  They can label a file for each class, which allows them to file graded assignments, handouts and such.  When they have a final or need to get a handout to study from a couple of weeks ago, they know right where to look.
  • Another way parents can help students who struggle with organization is to stay in contact with teachers, either through email or a parent portal system.  If students are missing assignments on a regular basis, all parties need to establish a solid plan of attack.  Teachers deal with organization issues all of the time and they can be a great resource.

What works in your family when it comes to organization? How have you helped your child to be more successful and become more organized?

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