By Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. Published June 2011 at www.enterprisingeducators.org

Second marking period is almost over and report cards will soon be arriving. If you’re cringing at the thought of opening the mailbox, then it’s time to help your kids get organized.

Think your kids already know how to organize their school work and time? Think again. Organization is a learned skill, and one that very few children will learn on their own. Becoming an organized student will help your kids throughout their academic careers and throughout their lives, so it’s time to get started, and it’s never too late in life.

Here are some simple organizational strategies that you can incorporate easily into your child’s routine:

Write it down. Most schools provide their students with a daily planner to help track homework, test schedules and long-term assignments. At the fresh start of the marking period, sit down with your child and fill in all of the upcoming events you can based on the course syllabus (or, if your child works better on the computer, set up a calendar online). Also add in known events. For example, if your student has a vocabulary quiz every Friday, enter those for the entire marking period.

Remember to jot down activities that will impact preparation time–events such as family vacations, sports practices, competitions and more. This is especially important when planning for long-term projects. You don’t want to realize the night before a major book report is due that you also have a Math League Meet after school and Choir Concert in the evening.

Also, keep a copy of the calendar for yourself. This is crucial if you have a child prone to losing things or forgetting to bring books home.

Break it up. The thought of a long-term assignment can be completely overwhelming to the average child. But to a child who is a procrastinator, ADHD, or just chronically disorganized, long-term projects like reports are pure torture.

Teach your child to break up large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces with separate deadlines. Creating a book report cover or researching 10 facts about a topic is a far less stressful assignment than researching, writing and drawing a 10-page report.

Keep deadlines reasonable. Chronic procrastinators consistently underestimate the amount of time needed to complete an assignment, and then panic when work doesn’t progress as quickly as planned. Stick to easy-to-complete, small tasks and – voila! – the project is done, and done well.

Back up. It happens. Despite best intentions, your child has forgotten an assignment, a book, or crucial project instructions. Have an emergency plan in place. You should have the phone numbers of three school mates on hand in case you need to check whether the math problems assigned were odd or even numbers, or to borrow a history textbook, or even to get a copy of the vocab worksheet.

To avoid forgetfulness in the future, teach your child to use the planner at his locker. He can see exactly what homework he has that week and bring home the books, papers, etc. he’ll need. I say, “week,” because we are always planning ahead, remember?

Pack early. Avoid the hectic, early morning scramble with frantic kids searching for papers and books. Did I leave it in the den? The dining room table? Mom, the bus is here!

The simple solution is to take an extra five minutes in the evening and pack backpacks. Have a special spot designated for backpacks, sports equipment — even shoes. In the morning, your kids will have everything they need for the day, including the homework they completed so diligently the night before!

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Beverly Stewart, M.Ed.

Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+.
Email Beverly at beverly@backtobasicslearning.com, call her at (302)594-0754 or visit on the web at www.backtobasicslearning.com or www.backtobasicsprivateschool.com.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. is located on 6 Stone Hill Road, Wilmington.

Beverly Stewart inducted to Hall of Fame of Delaware Women