Helping Your Child Get Organized

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On 02/06/2012 05:21:05

We're all really trying to get better organized. Here's a reason to try harder: We'll be helping our kids by showing them how to do it. And maybe we'll avoid the morning battles that erupt when a backpack is misplaced right before the school bus is due to arrive.


Try to establish a "get ready the night before" policy at your house. If your child lines up his backpack and jacket next to the front door, it won't get forgotten. Have him choose his clothes before he goes to bed.


I could have avoided many a late-night run to the store, if I'd followed this piece of advice: Set up a supply shelf or storage container at home for school supplies. Put all the paper, pens, glue sticks and ink cartridges there to be used all year long. Replenish when you see school supplies on sale. You'll save your time, money and endless conversations about how your child can't possible start his geometry because you don't have graph paper.


Don't forget to start a folder for school information for yourself, as well, so you can quickly find out what you need to know about back-to-school night, sports team tryouts and orchestra recitals.


As soon as your child starts getting homework assignments, help him develop a system to keep track of them. It will pay dividends later. At my children's elementary school, all the teachers had students get in the habit of writing down assignments in a small daily planner. It was a habit that stuck through middle and high school.


If your school doesn't have a system like this, talk to the principal. Perhaps your PTA can raise the money to buy planners for all students, as ours did.


Part of getting organized is managing time, and you can play a part here, too. Help your child develop a routine for homework, scheduling time for study and time for breaks. Encourage him to estimate how long an assignment will take. This will help keep him on track and insure that he spends a reasonable amount of time on each subject. If he's spent the entire evening struggling with math homework, for example, it's probably time to write a note to the teacher. Your child may need more instruction to understand a concept or just be struggling with the sheer number of problems to complete. Either way, this is important feedback for the teacher to hear.


Finally, get a family calendar to keep track of activities and post it in a prominent place. If you can't seem to find time for a family dinner or an afternoon in the park, your calendar will also serve as a vivid illustration that you just might be overscheduling yourselves. Time for a family discussion!