The ABCs of Organizing for Students

Published Tuesday, October 09, 2012 3:17 PM

This school year, teach your children the most valuable lesson they will ever learn: how to be organized. Long after state capitals and algebraic equations are forgotten, the ability to organize one's time and belongings will serve your student well.

Why Get Organized?

Being organized increases productivity, improves student achievement and reduces stress. Being organized also increases free time for leisure pursuits. Other benefits include:

  • A (relatively) neat desk, book bag and room
  • A workable system for tracking assignments and managing a weekly schedule
  • The ability to tackle big projects that require planning over time
  • Decreased stress; feeling in control, rather than overwhelmed
  • The ability to make healthy lifestyle choices such as time for exercise and a decent bedtime

Getting Started

Students aren't born organized, they need to be coached on the basics of organization just as they would any skill. Equip your student for organization with the right set of tools:

  • Three-Ring Binder: The linchpin of organization; ensure it can hold papers for a particular grading period.
  • Folders: Three-holed pocket folders corral paperwork. Encourage your child to think about what kind of paper comes home from school, label each folder accordingly.
  • Calendar or Day Planner: Provides a big-picture view of schedules and helps with time-management. Parents should let children manage their schedules, but can offer guidance. Demonstrate how you manage your own calendar.
  • A stack of 3×5 index cards: A cheap, portable means to create lists, notes and study guides. Index cards are perfect for test review.
  • Designated Study Zone: Designate a distraction-free place for work. Work in a quiet, low-traffic area and set boundaries for desk use: i.e. storing books on the desk is okay, while electronic games are not.

Make it a Habit

Good study habits are created with repetition. New habits take time to become routine; parents should monitor initial progress and then slowly, give a child room to manage on their own.

Parents can help by:

  • Going over the child's list of homework assignments
  • Asking your child to create a to-do list of priorities, then vetting the list
  • Building in time to proof and review work
  • For long-term projects, demonstrate how to break the work down into a series of steps. Have your child plot out a timeline for completion.
  • Encourage your student to check off each item on the to-do list

Effective Time-Management

Parents can help their students manage homework and sports schedules by teaching students about time-blocking: the process of designating specific blocks of time each day for tackling particular activities or tasks. Students should examine their daily schedule and homework to-do list and establish timelines for all tasks.

Other time-blocking tips include:

  • Keep it real: Set realistic time-blocks; allow time for snacks, transitions and breaks.
  • Interruption-free zone: Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time each day. Close the bedroom door; turn off the phone and keep younger siblings away. Students should tackle tasks that require deep concentration during this time-block.

Finally, remember that organization must be learned and practiced to become a habit. Parents can and should guide their students but should ultimately allow their students to take the lead. 



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About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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