School just started and already there are possibly some anxious moments of lost homework, a disheveled backpack and unknown test dates. Whether it’s keeping track of homework or remembering to bring home a backpack, all students need to be organized to succeed in school. For many students academic challenges are often due to disorganization. Organizing for academic success is a learned skill and the right tools and routines can make a difference for any student. Organizational academic skills are what leads to life skills.
A planner is a vital tool for the organization plan.
The planner helps your student keep track of long range and daily assignments, tests and homework. A “week at a glance” format is best, and be sure there is a space to record assignments for each class each day and extracurricular activities. The best choice is a planner sold by the school which will include vacation and exam dates. To begin the year, gather all syllabi and record all the dates for major projects and exams. Then go back, working backwards and write in the “baby steps” that lead to preparation for the work. Daily assignments should be written in each day, as soon as assigned, regardless of how small the assignment is.
Each afternoon review the planner, adding to it using additional resources found on the teacher’s web page and any additional assignments or test preparation. With consistent use, your student will know when to turn in papers for class in a timely fashion. The planner should be the one calendar the student uses, so be sure to include all other activities from sports to social engagements. Consistently using a planner is a lifelong skill well worth investment in the student’s time and effort.
Routines are a critical aspect of organizing for academic success.
Creating a structure for homework time is equal in importance as the other aspects of organizing. Check with your student’s teacher to find out the amount of time homework should be taking each night. Set aside that amount of time and designate it as “Homework Time” on a nightly basis. On a given night, if your student has fewer assignments or finishes up early, the remaining time should be spent studying for an upcoming test, working on a long-range project, or reading a library book. If your student knows that 30 – 45 minutes will be spent on school related activities each night, he/she will be less likely to try to rush through assignments, or to skip them altogether.
Create a daily routine that has homework at the time of day that is best for your student. A snack and a few minutes of time to unwind before beginning homework is a good break and then your student is ready to begin. For effective and efficient study time, it is best to limit distractions. Low music can help some students concentrate, however other technology such as television or computer should be discouraged. Many studies have shown how ineffective “multi tasking” is for all of us, and students are no different. The final part of this routine is to repack the backpack and place it at a “to go spot”, ready for the next day. By reinforcing consistent and committed use of the planner and the accordion file as well as homework routines, your student is best prepared for school each day.
Establishing good organizing systems and routines should begin at the outset of the school year.
Talk with your student about the importance of being organized, what benefits your student and your family will experience from being organized, and how to begin and incorporate the process. If your student is not experiencing the success you think is possible, the book The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg and Jennifer Zweibel is an outstanding resource for more ways to organize for academic success. Commitment to the organizing process and your student’s desire to be organized is all it takes to make a difference!