The famous actor and director, Woody Allen, once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I would amend that slightly: Eighty percent of school success is showing up AND staying organized. I’ve taught many students over the years who struggled fiercely in school. Those who were organized managed to stay afloat and achieve success. On the other hand, I’ve worked with tremendously gifted students for whom learning came easy, but their grades did not reflect their true abilities. They stumbled because their poor organizational skills impacted them in each and every subject area.
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to set the stage for organization. Here’s how to do it:
• Set Up an Appointment to Talk – Instead of having an off the cuff conversation that might not go well, set up a time to talk. This way, you and your child will have a chunk of time to have an uninterrupted chat. For example, you might say “Can we set aside a few minutes to talk about the new school year after dinner tonight?”
• Nag No More – As parents, we may see the benefits of staying organized, but our kids may not. And the last thing they want to hear are our constant reminders like “Did you get your things organized for tomorrow?” or “Did you clean out your backpack?” Instead, during the appointment to talk try saying something such as “I know I was on your case a lot last year. You’re getting older and I don’t want to nag you. Let’s get prepared for the new year by setting up systems you like.”
• Maintain Neatness – Most every student starts out the school year with an organized binder, but for some, this state of neatness doesn’t last long. The key to maintaining order is a 20 minute pre-arranged weekly session called the “clean sweep”. During this time, everyone in the house drops everything and gets organized. This is the time kids use to sort and file papers, clear out binders, and organize their backpacks. Stick with this one routine and you’ll see a real difference this school year.
• Archive Colorfully – Some kids are packrats and some are purgers when it comes to the school papers. They don’t know what to save and what to keep. A good rule of thumb is that old tests and quizzes should always be kept. Most everything else can be tossed. Those important papers can be filed once a month into a Pendaflex hanging file folder. Label each tab with the subject name and in no time, your child with have a colorful archiving system set up to keep all of those important papers organized.
I hope these tips help your student get off to a great start, but if you find that your child has a hard time taking your advice, we can help. Our educational coaches specialize in teaching kids the best ways to organize materials and just as importantly – to organize time. Sometimes, a neutral third party specialist relieves stress at home and ensures that the child is equipped with proven strategies.