Helping Your Student Stay Organized
I get a rush when I open my planner and I have a full, color-coded to-do list for the day. There is a strange “organizational high” I get when I head to bed knowing that there are neat check marks next to everything I finished, and I know exactly what needs to be done tomorrow. There is a folder or drawer for everything, and feel free to ask me what I’m doing three Wednesdays from now. Not everyone is like this (and to be honest, they’re probably much more fun). However, it’s a trait that served me well in my academic life, and I’m a firm believer that a large part of being a good student is simply being organized. If you’re eager to help your own student stay on top of things and organize their life, here are my biggest tips.
Help them develop a routine and STICK TO IT!
Aristotle said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” Help your student form good habits, and they will thank you later! Let’s use their student planner as an example. It’s easy to “get on their back” and have them write down all their homework assignments during the first week of school, but the real key is making them stick to it. Remind them to write down every single assignment, test, errand, appointment, practice, etc. Whenever they have a question or say they aren’t sure about something, tell them to check their planner. Eventually (hopefully!) these routines will become second nature to them, and they’ll see the merit of staying organized.
This is one of my easiest “organizing hacks” and it helped me immensely throughout high school and college. At the beginning of each semester, I chose a color to represent each course I was taking. Every item related to that course (folder, binder, notebook, etc.) had to be that color. I never forgot to bring something I needed home with me, or forget to bring something to class, because all I had to do was grab everything of a certain color! This is very simple, and it’ll make staying organized a breeze.
Assist them in cleaning up their backpack and locker.
I stand by the idea that a cluttered space leads to a cluttered head. When everything is tidy and there is a place for everything, it’s so much easier to get things done! Plus, you’ll be more likely to find everything you need. Help them keep their backpack organized by doing little things like getting them high quality folders and binders. A pencil bag is a must. Help them organize their lockers with shelves, hooks, and anything else that can help them store their things and see everything easily. If they’re just throwing everything into their backpack and locker, it’s easy to forget and misplace things. Set them up for success!
Create a daily checklist with them.
I don’t mean that you should sit down every single day and create a checklist with them. I mean create one general “master checklist” that they can reference every single day to help them with staying organized. For example, you can help them create an “end of the day checklist” they can post in their locker. It can be as simple as, “Check your planner. Check your homework assignments and upcoming exams. Pull out all materials for respective courses and put in backpack.” It might seem silly or belittling, but these little memory cues can help your student slow down and take a moment to plan ahead.
Make organization easy for them. Baby steps are your friend!
You don’t need to implement all of these things, and you certainly don’t need to implement all of them at once. It’s easy to start micromanaging, especially when you’re ultra-organized and your child is not. However, remember that a routine is useless if your child hates it too much to stick to it! There are little ways you can make staying organized easy for them (or at least easier). Don’t underestimate the power of great school supplies! I always invested in a high-quality planner with a format that I liked, and writing supplies that were fun to write with. Again, I know it sounds silly… but these little things can make a big difference.
School is hard, and being disorganized only makes it harder. It’s not your job to organize your child’s life, but you can help them find a system that works for them (and strongly encourage that they stick to it!). Every student is different, and every student has unique strengths. Help them take advantage of these strengths, find an efficient and helpful system for staying on top of things, and never miss a deadline or a homework assignment again!