Organizing the incoming and outgoing school-related paperwork that inundates a parent’s life each school year can be a challenge. More importantly than organizing this aspect of your home, however, is teaching your child to organize their schoolwork. Many children suffer from an inability to keep their schoolwork organized, which in turn can affect their grades. You can help your child become responsible for their schoolwork by emphasizing the importance of organization and providing them with tools that work for them.
Introduce your child to paperwork organization early in their academic career. Even in kindergarten a child can begin to hone organizational skills that will help them later. For young children, provide a designated space in the house, whether a basket or a cubby, where their schoolwork and other school related items can be kept. Items that are frequently transported between school and home, such as library books, lunch boxes, schoolwork, and other objects, should be given a designated spot near coats, shoes, and book bags.
Schoolwork should be separated into two categories: Papers that need to be completed at home and are expected to be returned to school, and papers that can be left at home. Papers that need to be returned to school should be separated until they are completed, and then need to be placed into their designated folder or notebook and returned to the child’s book bag.
Papers that can be left at home should be further separated into papers that are no longer needed and those that are to be kept. For artwork and other special papers, devise a separate, long-term storage method. Papers that might need to be referenced short term, such as study guides and rubrics, can be kept on a clipboard or in an at-home folder until they are no longer needed. The rest can be thrown out or recycled.
When shopping for school supplies for the school year, remember that the majority of school supplies are to be kept for use at school, so you will also need to provide your child with supplies that will be used at home. Make sure your child has a specific way, such as in a folder, to carry schoolwork back and forth from school.
For older children, especially those that are suffering from disorganization, ask them how their typical school day unfolds. Maybe they have binders for every class and schoolwork is being left in their locker because of time restraints at school. Helping your child identify the typical course of their day will help identify the best organizational tool or supply for them to use.
Some children respond very well to the structure of organization and others may never grasp the concept. For the severely organizationally challenged, lost schoolwork turns into homework that is never turned in. These students need to be encouraged to keep a day planner or assignment book with them at all times. Teach your child how to use a daily planner to keep track of assignments and provide them with a method of organizing their schoolwork both at home and at school.
If your child continually runs into problems keeping track of schoolwork, talk to their teacher or teachers. Ask about your child’s preparedness for class and any organizational problems they might be having. There are many students who earn poor grades, not because of the work they do, but because the work never makes it back to class. By encouraging and participating with your child to come up with a workable plan for organizing their schoolwork, you will be enabling them to be more successful at school and be teaching them a lifelong skill.