Kids around the country have jumped into the new school year. Many are full of excitement from the possibilities that come with a fresh start. Capitalize on that energy with these strategies to set your student on a path to a successful year.
An organized locker, backpack and home workspace can create a sense of peace and eliminate stress. Organize school materials and accessories with your student in a way that works best for them. They may prefer to group subjects through colored covers and binders, or to create matching labels for their items. Offer suggestions but let them be the decision maker in the process. Giving them the opportunity to make decisions will create a sense of ownership of the system.
Start the process with all of their school supplies. Clearly mark all binders, books and pencil pouches with their name. Group items pertaining to specific subjects. Then move on to the locker which will house these supplies. Design a layout with the heaviest items on the bottom. If there’s room, use a storage crate to create a shelf. Take advantage of metal lockers by utilizing the inside door with magnetic cups to hold small objects. Draw a diagram of the final locker layout and hang it in the locker to remind your student how things should look. Go through the same process with their home workspace. Establish a spot that is most conducive to uninterrupted work. Make sure there are no distractions like television or other family members. This should be the spot where all work is done. Sketch an image of what their ideal space would look like. Include the tools necessary to work: reference books, supplies, computer, lighting, seating, storage, etc. Keep this posted at the space as a reminder.
Now that their materials and space have been organized, move on to establishing habits with their time. Time management is a valuable skill that is often left out of the curriculum. Modeling methods of time management for your student can be one of the most effective and long-lasting tools for their success in school and beyond.
Begin with a planner that they can easily bring to every class. Traditional planners are paper-bound but you may want to explore the use of digital planners (ie. iPads or computers) if your school permits such devices. Develop a method of noting assignments. One approach is to identify the subject and begin each assignment with a bullet mark, followed by a specific action, detailed assignment and specific due day and date. For example:
- Complete problems 1-10, p. 114. Due Thursday, 9/5.
As the school year begins, have your student record how long it took them to complete each assignment. Make a note next to it in their planner. After two weeks, you’ll have hard data to help you predict how long homework will take each night. This will help your student create their own schedule. It will also give you an idea of how long your child is working.
Creating routines is another way to encourage student independence. Review their planner with them. Have your child cross out all completed assignments, place completed work in the appropriate folder, pack their bag and put it in a designated spot by the door your exit every morning. These small actions can have a huge impact and relieve the stress of rushing around in the morning.
Arguably the most important habit you can help your child form is to make sure they attend school as much as possible. Missed days can create a snowball of stress. Catching up on missed work, piled on to current work is a lot to manage at any age. Making school attendance a priority emphasizes your value of education and builds a sense of accountability in your child.
Laying solid foundations in organization of materials and the process of working will help to create habits that can lead to academic and personal success.