In order to excel in life a person must be organized. Children and their education is no exception to this. Whether a child is home-schooled, private schooled, or public schooled, organization is an essential element to ensure educational success.
Children learn by example and by hands-on experience, so interaction from the parent is crucial to forming an organizational set of standards. To just tell a child “get organized” does no good unless a parent explains HOW to get organized.
STEP ONE: Obtain a calendar-the key to organizing homework is to pay attention to due dates. To see the dates visually on a calendar will help a child (and a parent!) to keep the dates fresh. A calendar is best if it is hanging in view, but it is not a requirement. The school calendar can work fine, a calendar can be printed from the computer, or a special calendar can be purchased. Just make sure that the calendar includes weekends because weekends are a time when many children work on homework, especially long-term projects.
STEP TWO: Syllabus-if teachers sends home a syllabus (a list of all the homework and due dates for the semester or year) then post it in a visible location. Making a copy of it is also a good idea in case something happens to the original.
STEP THREE: Break up large projects-some projects like science fair experiments or term papers, can be broken up into separate due dates. A child might feel overwhelmed if they think it has to be done all on one day. For example: for a science fair project gather supplies on one day, do the project another day, type up the results, then assemble the board. Or, for a term paper gather the books one day, take notes another, and so on.
STEP FOUR: Check your child’s progress-children need interaction and should not be left alone. Check to make sure that the organization is working for them and check to see that they understand the expectations.
STEP FIVE: Preparation-before a child sits down to work make sure that they have used the bathroom, gotten a drink of water, had a little snack, or whatever usually distracts them from homework.
STEP SIX: Supplies-we all buy supplies at the beginning of the school year, but how often are they replenished? Keep a constant supply of paper, pencils, staples, erasers, a pencil sharpener, crayons, etc…everything a student needs for their grade level. Most schools send out a list before school starts. Keep this list so it can be referred back to.
STEP SEVEN: A study area-homework should be completed in the same place everyday. The requirements are to have good lighting, a chair and workspace that fits the child. A kitchen table, counter end, desk, or a child-size table and chair will work fine. Supplies should be near the workspace. Children concentrate better if they are in a suitable area rather than laying on the floor or on a couch.
STEP EIGHT: Avoid distractions-this is perhaps the biggest key, watching TV or being distracted by friends or siblings can greatly affect a child’s organizational and concentration skills.
STEP NINE: Evaluate homework-look over the homework that a child has to do that night. The easiest homework can be done first. This will let a child concentrate on the more difficult homework and let them feel as if they are getting somewhere by having completed the easier. Then, take a look at the homework and the supplies involved. Does the child need crayons, a dictionary, scissors, etc.? Gather all the supplies first. When it is time to work, all the necessary items will be ready and on-hand.
STEP TEN: Checklists-children can keep a checklist so they know what is done or what they still need. This can be as simple as making a mark on the calendar when the homework is done. Children will feel a sense of accomplishment when they can cross things off the list.
STEP ELEVEN: Backpacks-clean backpacks daily. Parents and children must do this together and go through everything. A child might throw away something necessary and keep an item like a note from a friend. Daily perusal of a backpack or folder also lets parents sign forms in a timely manner and to know when due dates are coming up before it is too late. Backpacks should be hung up in the same place everyday for easy access. Also, any supplies that need to be sent to school should be placed in the backpack the night before. As soon as homework is completed it should be placed in the appropriate folder and into the backpack. Large projects ( such as a science fair board) can be placed either near the backpack, near the front door or in the van as soon as it is finished.
STEP TWELVE: Folders-most teachers require children to have folders and many teachers write “return” or “keep” on a pocket of the folder. But if this is not the case, then do so yourself. Knowing what needs to go back and having one specific folder for returning homework will help a child be able to turn in all the homework for that day and not have to search fo it.
STEP THIRTEEN: Homework agenda-if a teacher does not send a homework sheet but only writes it on the board at school purchase a small day planner or work agenda (availble in stationery or office supplies). Children can write down what their homework is rather than trying to remember it. Also utilize the homework hotline if your school has one. Calling this will let everyone know what is due and when, and can be a lifesaver when a homework sheet or agenda is forgotten or lost.
Parents must take an active role in the organizational process and to keep up with it to see if it is working for the child. If not, adjustments and flexibility must be exuded to come up with the perfect organizational method that will fit the child’s needs.