by Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.
Some kids seem to instinctively know how to organize themselves to succeed in school. They are never late, always get their homework done on time, and can find anything they need in their backpack. Other kids need your guidance. Below are 4 ways you can help your child organize for success at school.
Provide organizing suggestions, but let your child make decisions on how to organize. Teaching them to make organizing decisions is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Being involved in the design allows is a great motivator for them to maintain their new system. The final solution must also be very simple. Encourage them to think of ways to make their organizing process simpler as they use it. This reinforces that it's okay not to get it perfect the first time. Like writing, good organizing often happens in "drafts"
Help your child make an inventory of all the activities and items that need to be organized. Here is an example inventory you can use as a starting point:
• Writing Supplies
• Tools such as calculators, etc.
• Personal Supplies such as money, lunch, makeup etc.
• Class Schedule
• Class notes &; handouts (current & past)
• Homework (to be done &; completed)
• School Announcements/Flyers/Permission Slips, etc.
• Research Projects
• Extra Curricular Activities supplies like gym shoes
• Electronics (MP3 players, Laptop, Computer, PDA Etc.)
Once you have the list, set up an integrated system. Establish homes for each item everywhere she uses them - in her school locker, backpack, AND home study area.
Encourage your students to think of simple ways to store things that make it easy to use the system. Teach them to not just throw everything into their locker or backpack. Instead, ask these questions.
- How can I make it easier for myself to see everything I have at a glance? For example, you can use clear containers,
- How can I make it easier for myself to access things? A great way to do this is to put things in containers or drawers VERTICALLY instead of in piles.
- How can I make it easier for myself to put things away? One of the best ways to do this is to not block your access to things you use often, and to not use lids wherever possible. For example, when you choose accordion folders that have hook closures instead of flap lids. You can also remove lids permanently if they become a barrier to putting things away.
Use all the available space and be creative in creating space. If needed you can create more storage space in her locker with a locker shelf or even a hanging basket. You can attach hooks and containers to the doors as well. Before buying any storage items, make sure you have a plan for how you will use the organizing items.
Use the backpack only to transport items back and forth between home and school - NOT as storage. Every item in the backpack should have a home outside of the backpack. If home and school each have a place for your child to store things, then she can easily clean it out regularly and carry only what she really needs for a given day! Encourage kids to keep their backpacks as light as possible by cleaning it out every night and putting back in only what they need for tomorrow. While they are at it, have them assemble their outfit for the next day as well to save time in the morning. This habit will serve them well for a lifetime!
May this school year be your best ever!
Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed, is a Life Coach and Organizing Expert, specializing in how to manage ADD, overcome chronic disorganization, organize your financial life, and design a lifestyle and home environment that supports you in getting the results you really want.
She is the author of the "The Neat & Simple Guide to Organizing Your Office" and the Neat & Simple Living Organizing and ADD blog and you can get her free e-book at "100 Surefire Ways to Organize Your Busy Life!" !