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Organizing the Unorganized Child's School Work

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 2/8/2012

Many children seem like they are walking chaos. If your child is constantly losing homework and classwork, and routinely misplaces assignments, then organization is what they need. Becoming organized is a learned skill. Once your child masters the basics, grades will improve.

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    A child who is unorganized will suffer in school. Papers get lost, assignments are forgotten and grades reflect the lack of organization. Unfortunately public schools do not offer students the chance to learn this skill and humans do not automatically inherit an organization trait. Don't despair. Here are some tricks and techniques that will help your child become more organized.

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    Calendar

    Get a calendar for your child. This can be any type as long as there is plenty of room to write assignments and notes. Colored pens or fine line markers will be used to write in important assignments and notes. Each subject will have its own color. Include sports, 4H, church and other extra curricular activities and commitments. Daily homework does not need to go on a calendar.

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    Folders

    Seven folders labeled Monday through Sunday are needed. In addition to that there should be a long-term assignments folder, a homework completed folder, homework due today folder, long-term assignments completed folder and a parent’s folder.

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    Stacking Baskets

    In your child’s homework area there should be stacking baskets. Four are needed.

    • The top basket should be labeled “Due Today” -- In this basket place the “homework due today folder” and the folder for that day (Monday through Sunday).
    • The next basket should be labeled long-term assignments. The daily folders and a folder labeled “long-term assignments” goes in here.
    • The third basket is the Parent’s Basket. The folder labeled “parent’s folder” goes in here.
    • In the final basket place the “homework completed” folder and the “long-term assignments completed” folder.
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    Organization Procedures

    At the beginning of the week, you and your child should go through his backpack, notebooks and folders, and separate all work by subject. For each subject, note when the assignment is due on the calendar. Break down each assignment into equal parts. For example if there is a book report due in two weeks, break down what needs to be done everyday for 13 days. Write these down on the calendar and place the work in daily folders. Proceed to the next subject. This way all assignments will be noted and a daily plan for working on everything is accomplished.

    Every day, put all homework and notices in the proper folders. Make note of any new long-term assignments and projects.

    If your child receives a Friday folder from his teacher, go through it with him and mark down any new assignments. Put everything in the proper folders. Look to see what work was turned in, and make a note of any areas where improvement is needed.

    Once a week, go through the backpack and all notebooks with your child. Throw out any papers that are not needed. Organize loose papers into the proper notebook sections. Replace notebooks as they become ripped or damaged.

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    Parents Role

    Until your child demonstrates that he can keep up with this on his own, parental involvement is necessary. Check the assignments daily. This is extremely important in order to keep your child on track.

    Other tools to use are a calendar feature on a cell phone or smartphone. Although many schools do not allow students to use the phone in class, the calendar portion can be done at home and reminders set up to alert your child in the morning and during lunch as to what has to be accomplished today. Be sure to understand your school's policy regarding phones before establishing this routine with your child.

    Once the habit of organization begins to set in, you will see that your child is able to accomplish more in less time. Teaching a child good organizational habits, as well as effective study habits, is a gift that will last a life time.