How To Keep Your Child Organized For School
Does your child typically come home with a crumpled mess of papers in their backpack? Do they spend a substantial amount of time trying to track down homework assignments and due dates? It seems that some kids just understand organizational skills, while others intuitively run the other way. Here are some ideas to help keep your child organized this school year like never before!
1. Color code, color code, color code!
Color coding is perhaps the easiest, most effective way to set your child up for success this school year. Teaching your child how to color code began when they were toddlers sorting blocks by color, but it doesn’t stop there. When school shopping, be sure to buy matching notebooks and folders, using one color for each subject. You can take this classic organizational technique a step further by purchasing colored pens that match their subjects’ colors, so that they can keep track of assignments and their due dates by color coding!
2. Customized to-do list notepads are their new best friend.
To-do lists aren’t just for busy parents who have a thousand things to remember on any given day. Teaching your child how to make an effective to-do list can start young, and it doesn’t have to have a negative connotation like chore lists typically have. Making to-do lists can be fun!
From Amazon to Etsy to your local mom-n-pop paper shop, there are literally thousands of options when it comes to fun and creative daily to-do list notepads! One of the most important skills that will help your child be more self-sufficient when it comes to making to-do lists is knowing which tasks to prioritize each day, so as not to become overwhelmed. Teach them to prioritize three tasks each day, outside of daily tasks such as “go to school.” They can ask themselves, What are the three most important things I can get done by the end of today that shouldn’t wait until tomorrow? This will help them to stay on top of school assignments and other things they need to get done in a timely manner.
3. Day planners help a lot, too.
Your child’s first day planner will likely be given to them in junior high to keep track of homework assignments, but why not teach them how to use one earlier?
Creating an early habit of keeping track of their own schedule can only help you both out in the long run. You can even use a sticker reward program for each week they keep track of things like “sleepover at Grandma’s” or “soccer game at 10am.”
4. Create an at-home filing system for their school work.
This tip may help you maintain your sanity more than your child, but having an at-home filing system will prevent stacks of papers from piling up around the house. This could be a classic filing cabinet with folders labeled by subject or grade for each child, or it could be labeled bins, storage containers, or binders. Having a filing system will not only allow your child to have a designated place to store all of their work and art, but it will provide you with an organized way to view all of your child’s schoolwork for years to come!
5. Establish a “no loose papers in your backpack out of their designated folder” habit.
Yes, this rule may be a mouthful, but it’s quite simple:no loose papers in your backpack! Kids who lose assignments, turn papers in late, or turn in destroyed or illegible homework or projects are typically not kids who have organized backpacks. Teach your child to respect their work, their teachers’ assignments, and the way they present themselves by requiring them to keep all papers in neat folders in their backpacks.
6. Get them their own wall calendar (and help them keep it updated).
While you likely already have a calendar to help you keep each family member’s activities organized, you can make your child feel special by getting them their own wall calendar to keep track of their own schedule. Giving them this small responsibility will allow them to take pride in their chosen activities and household responsibilities. Also, if you hang their calendar next to the family calendar where everyone can see it, this will hold them accountable for maintaining their schedule.
7. Teach them exactly how to take notes in class.
There are few valuable life skills that people take the time to sit children down and teach them, like how to manage finances, how taxes work, or the most effective way to take notes. Knowing how to take good notes can be crucial for your child’s success in their academic career, and it all begins with the fundamentals in elementary school.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking notes in class or from a book is jotting down or highlighting too many points. Only the key points (like event names, dates, and their importance) should be of focus when taking notes, otherwise the excess of information can be overwhelming.
You can teach your child the “T” method of taking notes, where a T is drawn on their page with a narrow column to the left and a wide column to the right. On the right your child can take a lot of notes during a class or while reading an assignment. Once they’re done with these notes, they can pull the main points of the class or assignment and include only these important points on the left side. This way, they know what information is most important when it comes time to review for a quiz or test. You can learn other styles of note taking and help your child experiment with the style that works best for them.
8. Require that they always keep their homework space spotless.
It may be unrealistic for your child to keep their entire room clean at all times, but it is possible to maintain a spotless and organized desk or homework area. Have your child prioritize keeping their work space clean so that they always have a clutter-free place to be productive. This also subconsciously communicates that school and their homework should always be their top priority when they respectfully keep their designated homework area clean.
9. And finally, create a photo book of all of their school work from this year!
If you and your child manage to complete a full school year with all of their papers and art work organized in one spot at home, congratulations! You can reward yourself by scanning or uploading photos of the work they are most proud of and turning it into an artwork photo book! This way you can dispose of any paper clutter in your files, while still having a neat momento of all of their hard work. Snapfish, Plum Print and other sites make these books that you will surely cherish forever!
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