Help Your Child Get Organized (page 2)
"This year it's going to be different." This sentence, uttered with a mixture of determination and hope, rings throughout homes across the country as the new school year starts. This year your child will get better grades, start his assignments earlier and, finally, get organized. And so you arm your child with notebooks, binders, pens and pencils, schedules and systems that should make all the difference. And now you've had your first parent-teacher conferences and some things don't seem to have changed at all.
We all have the best of intentions as we send our kids off to school. Our kids have the best of intentions too - no child wants to fail, and no student likes to be the one without her homework, textbook or completed project. And yet it seems sometimes that no matter how hard we all try, nothing changes: notebooks fall apart, homework get lost, long-term assignments are left for the last minute.
Why can't some kids stay on course?
Some of the most vital skills needed for success in school are not, for the most part, being taught in classrooms. Organization and time management are skills that lie at the heart of academic success for many students, and they need to be learned, adjusted and practiced. These are the skills that enable students to keep track of their belongings and assignments, both physically and mentally. As children enter middle school and classes become departmentalized, the challenges become even greater and the need for organizational skills becomes even more urgent. When a student misses the lesson on breaking down long-term assignments, or the required notebook setup doesn't match a student's learning style, the proper systems are not in place to support a student's academic success.
Children with learning issues
Children who have learning issues face an additional set of challenges. Students with attention difficulties tend to have trouble focusing on the details involved in an organizational system; kids with auditory processing issues often don't take in all of the information as it's being taught in school; and children with non-verbal learning disabilities or executive functioning issues may have trouble with sequencing, priorities and consequences, which are all significant components of organization. In fact, the steps involved in getting organized may seem like a burden rather than a tool - one more place to fail, one more obstacle between your child and success in the classroom.
When I was growing up, organization actually became my coping mechanism. My (undiagnosed) dyslexia left me feeling like a failure, and facing that failure five days a week, six hours a day, was so painful that I shut down. I learned to look like I was paying attention in class while I had in fact completely vacated the room mentally. The only way I could survive was by being extremely organized, by having control over the few things I did understand in the classroom. But students today live in a world in which even staying organized is more challenging that it was when we were in school.
Among the factors that contribute to the organization problem are the rapid development of technology that has vastly increased the amount of paper that comes across students' desks; greater pressure to succeed academically and get into college, which makes kids feel they have no room to make mistakes; changes in family structure and living situations that have led to more unsupervised homework time and more places for kids to leave their homework; and crammed schedules, both curricular and extra-curricular, which result in greater workloads and less time for homework. With students facing all of these obstacles, what can parents expect to accomplish by introducing a few simple organizational tools? Plenty.
What parents can do
By helping your child create her own systems to keep track of her work and her workspace, you are laying the foundation for success in school and beyond. The process itself is a wonderful way to let your child experiment with decision-making, trial and error and learning to trust one's own instincts. It's also a great opportunity to create a non-academic component within your child's school experience that can be relieved of the pressure of grades and judgment. It's an arena where she can find success and build on it. As she sees results in school and at home she will discover the value of the tools and find the encouragement to continue.
Recognize the signs of disorganization
The overall areas you will want to address can be broken down into three categories: organization at school, organization at home and time management. Your child's already been in school for about a month, which means you may have a sense of what's working and what's not working. Some students will have lost half of their supplies and a number of notebooks, textbooks and/or assignments; others will be carrying backpacks crammed with paper that never made it out of the bag to either be completed or handed in; still others will have forgotten about quizzes, tests and assignments or missed appointments they'd known about for weeks. Many students will exhibit all three signs of disorganization. Your job is to pick one area and guide your child through the process of creating a new system that will work for her.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List