It was like a scene in a horror movie! I opened my daughter’s book bag in search of a pencil and my hand was immediately consumed by debris. I tugged and twisted, but my fingers kept tangling on what I could only guess were reams of mangled paper. In my desperate attempt to free myself, I encountered something squishy with my forefinger and squealed in disgust. Determined to now remain calm, I opened the book bag wider with my free hand and a noxious odor began to fill the room. Finally, as my hand broke free, I lunged toward the opposite wall and valiantly fought the urge to run, screaming!
Ironically, I wasn’t trying to find something for my daughter, rather the pencil I was seeking was for my own use on a crossword puzzle I had long wanted to tackle. But, it made me start to wonder; if my daughter was this disorganized with her book bag, it was no wonder she couldn’t seem to get organized when homework time came around every night. There was always a problem. Either she forgot to write it down, she left the book she needed at school, or my personal favorite – she didn’t have the materials she needed for a project that was assigned two weeks ago and that is due tomorrow!
Sound familiar? If so, you will be happy to know there are some simple ways to help your student get organized when it comes to working from home. The first, and most important tool you’ll need is a homework calendar. Get one that has plenty of room for jotting down notes. It’s possible to either go old school or get techie on this one, depending on the age of your child. A large, desktop calendar or book calendar works as a great visual aid for the younger students, while older students may prefer to use the calendar on their phone or download a calendar app. The key here is that they are able to consistently document their assignments while in class. You may be thinking that many schools and teachers now have online calendars, where they make this part easy for you. True, but it is still important that your child get in the habit of physically recording their assignments. This is a routine that will benefit them as well as follow them well into adulthood.
Perhaps the second most important organizational tool you can teach your child is to do a 5 minute ‘focus’ assignment. Before they begin doing homework, it is highly effective if they take a few minutes to write down exactly what they need to accomplish in that particular study session. Younger students, especially, are challenged when it comes to following multi-step directions. This quick activity allows them to review their immediate goals and cement the objectives on paper.
Finally, you can help your child by creating a home-study kit. Get a small bag or purse and fill it with all the necessary utensils your child may need. It may contain a pencil or pen, crayons or markers, glue or scissors, lined or smooth paper, etc. Older students may also want to include a stylus pen or special calculator. You can supplement the study kit by setting up individual files, labeled by subject. Here you can keep only important papers such as old tests which may help your student prepare for their final, comprehensive exams.
Remember, you don’t have to get your hands stuck in a homework mess! With a little help and some simple organizing tools, it’s easy to turn your own book bag nightmare into a peaceful bedtime story.