Parents call our office everyday looking for help on relieving academic stress. They’re frustrated and stressed beyond belief about their kid’s academic progress, but oftentimes, it’s not just about grades. They just can’t dodge disorganization!
Their kids are disorganized, or they procrastinate, or they aren’t as motivated as their parents want them to be. We see kids that are very, very bright, so intelligence isn’t the issue; however, they struggle to maintain organization. One thing they don’t do well is to plan ahead. Let me give you a couple of strategies to deal with this.
Make a plan when you get home
First, we always encourage kids to make a plan before they start anything. Our educational coaches say, “When you get home from school, don’t start with a subject. Don’t start with Science, or English, or Math, or History! You want to start with organization – and the first step you can take is to make a very simple to-do list.” This to-do list could be as small as a few things needed to complete for homework each night. When you make a list, it helps to visualize the tasks at hand.
Lay it all out
For some kids, a visual is often better than a written piece of paper. Encourage your child to take out their books and papers from their backpacks right when they get home from school. Have them lay everything out on the kitchen table or desk so they can visually see what they need to complete for the night. It’s a really powerful technique that actually reduces procrastination quite a bit! That’s because when kids have a plan, even if it’s a really basic one, there are no surprises and they’re much more likely to get going.
Use your weekends!
I also believe in using weekends, especially a Saturday morning or Friday evening. If you use a Sunday evening to plan for the week, your kid will say something like, “Mom, can you take me to Michaels? I forgot about the science project that’s due tomorrow,” and you know Michaels is already closed for the night! Instead use weekends early on, perhaps before your child goes out for the day, and encourage her to look at what order their homework portal to figure out what needs to be done.
Do a clean sweep
Lastly, consider a clean sweep. I love this idea because it helps everybody in the house get organized. A clean sweep is when you have a standing appointment in your phone (and in your kids’ phones too!) to clean things out. For example, you can use Sunday evenings from 7:00 – 7:20 pm and everyone is in on the action. Everyone in the family – not just your disorganized kid – is straightening up their materials and getting organized for the week. It could be that your kids are organizing their binders, getting their papers ready for the upcoming week, or cleaning out your purse or maybe organizing the junk drawer. It doesn’t really matter what it is but the idea is to have that standing appointment to maintain neatness on a weekly basis.
If you find that these tips help, that’s great! But, if you find your child is having a hard time with these tips or taking your advice, we can help. Our tutors and executive function coaches specialize in teaching kids the best ways to organize materials and – just as importantly – organize time. Sometimes, a third party specialist relieves stress at home surrounding academics.