Does your child struggle in school, lose or forget homework, forget to bring home needed materials, fail to give you important notices, have poor study habits, lose track of time, fail to prioritize and/or routinely procrastinate and then cram, instead of breaking work into doable chunks? Does their backpack look resemble a war zone or are binders and folders exploding? What’s happening in their bedroom and study space? Are they filled chock full of chaos and clutter? How many school years have passed since accumulated paper was sorted, purged and organized?
Getting organized to lower stress and boost productivity isn’t just for adults. Students can also benefit by improving organizational skills. However, like adults, they have to “buy in”. They have to want it. This begs the question, how can we, as parents, get our kids to want become more organized?
Good modeling behavior is a good start. But, equally, if not more important, we have to bring home to our kids that organizing skills and strategies go far beyond a few neat piles. It is a critical life skill that spills into every area of our lives, albeit a skill set that isn’t much taught in school. For some, getting and staying organized is a natural strength. But, with some strategizing and helpful tools, consistent with the way they think and learn, kids who are a bit more scattered, can make vast improvements.
In speaking to your kids about their school performance, it’s our job as parents, especially for middle and high school students, to explain the bigger picture. More work handed in on time, less lost or forgotten materials, improved study habits, better prioritizing and tracking of assignments will improve grades, success and confidence. Improved school performance leads to better grades, better options for college, better job opportunities and higher paying jobs!
Summer is a great time to think about the upcoming year and how improve performance and lower stress levels for you and your children, both at home and in school. Focus on what has not been working well. There are some fabulous products and tools, in paper and app form, that can make the process and maintaining the progress achieved, fun!
Why not get off to better, fresh start this coming school year? Chaos and disorganization breeds not only physical, but also mental clutter and holds us back from reaching our potential. Motivate your kids to organize their way to success in school and beyond or call Simply Orderly for some help 🙂 Consider which of these typical areas may need a boost:
● Clutter: Clutter can be very distracting to some children. Keep these distractions to a minimum by addressing bedroom and other study space clutter control. Some children respond well to rewards for pitching in.
● Noise: Some children focus and learn better with music or background noise, while others prefer silence. There are lots of great sound machines and apps that provide noise cancellation of unwanted sounds or the provision of relaxing or other wanted sounds. Some kids do well with a music playlist, which not only serves as a time frame for how long they have been working, but also as a reference point, enabling them to remember what they studied while listening to a particular song.
● Online distractions: Emails, tests and notifications, oh my. Multitasking is known to reduce work speed and quality. Consider eliminating the use of electronics during homework time or experiment with available apps that block online distractions for a set period of time. Kids will likely be pleasantly surprised at what they accomplish in even just 15-25 minutes of uninterrupted work.
● Supplies and Work space: Are they easily accessible and functional?
● Desk: Some students focus better with a sit to stand, standing or lap desk?
● Chair: Some students do better seated on a yoga ball or other seating options that allow for movement. ● Supplies: Portable options may be ideal if the study space is not in one stationary place or is not close to available supplies. Consider drawer organizers to help keep supplies well segregated?
● Lighting: Study areas should be well lit.
● Academic calendars & planners: A reliable, easy to manage planner to capture assignments is critical. A calendar that integrates school, social and extracurricular commitments (possibly in the cloud, where it is accessible to multiple family members) may be very helpful.
● Alarm clocks: Nothing sets the stage for a bad day like oversleeping. Unless you are willing to be the alarm clock for your child, perhaps one that is exceptionally loud and/or requires them to get up and shake it to turn it off, may do the trick.
● Timers: These work great for students who have perfectionist tendencies and lose track of time focusing on minor details, as well as students who need to improve their ability to work for uninterrupted time chunks.
Paper and Electronic Information Management
● Paper Management:
● Sort, purge and file: Start each year off fresh, by sorting, purging, filing and archiving the paper accumulation from the prior school year.
● Binders, Folders and Notebooks: Put some thought into the set-up of notebooks and binders. Does your child have more success with expanding folders, binders, trappers or spirals?
● Assignments: For the daily paper management of assignments, consider whether it is best for your child to get into the habit of dividing assignments by subject or whether it makes more sense to them to keep all homework together.
● Backpacks: Lots of pockets may not be ideal for everyone. Consider labels to promote good storage and easy retrieval habits.
● Lockers: There are tons of great products for shelving and magnetic supply organizers.
● Long term paper storage: There is no need for students to schlep all their notes, dittos and assignments back from September, all year long. Whatever is chosen to house and label older work should be simple, allow for easy retrieval and maintenance. Portable file totes with hanging folders, wall filing solutions, magazine boxes, binders and file drawers are all good choices for longer term storage. Consider whether bright colors and cool products might spawn better maintenance or whether merely functional is the goal?
● Electronic information management: With more and more being done online, students would be well served to develop good habits on the storage and retrieval of electronic information, including projects, homework, research and email. With documents stored to the cloud, they can be accessed anywhere. I’m a fan of Evernote. There, you can save webclips, audio clips, photos, notes, word and pdf documents all in one place. The content within the notes is easily searchable for easy retrieval. In addition, notes can be shared with anyone, regardless of whether they use evernote or not.
Other ideas to promote good study habits and success in school
● Flashcard Apps: These allow your child to use flashcards that other kids have created and share flashcards they create.
● Audio Books
● Practice Test Apps:
● Note taking Apps: Text to speech and speech to text apps
● Supplies that go back and forth: Pencil boxes have come a long way!
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● Reminders: Dry erase boards, sticky notes and apps that provide reminder alarms and notifications are all great options for capturing important information that otherwise might be forgotten.
Maintenance: Any new systems put in place need to be practiced until a new habit forms. How and when will this happen? Should it be scheduled at regular intervals?
Take Away: While tasks like setting up binders and putting systems in place to best handle the tracking of assignments, need to wait until school starts, the summer is a great time to address some basic organization issues, to ease back to school stress come the fall.
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