Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Simple Ideas to Organize Your Student And DeStress Your Evenings! Part 1


“Mom – I can’t find my homework and the bus is coming!”  “Dad- The project is due tomorrow and I’m not nearly done!”   Sound familiar? When my youngest was in fourth grade, he had an issue with losing paperwork and missing due dates on assignments. While he was and is a bright young man, he found this frustrating and it impacted his school performance and self-esteem.
Helping your child develop good organizational skills can maximize his or her success in school and better equip your student for middle school, high school, college and beyond.  Here are a few tips that can help your student better track and complete assignments, study for tests and accomplish projects at school and home:

Form Good Habits - Once everyone has relaxed after school, help your student get the ball rolling by reviewing the day and helping create a plan for what needs to be done.
  • Check the Planner and Communications Folder – Sit down with your young student and discuss what school work needs doing for the evening. His or her planner and any communications folders contain assignments and important notes and letters from the teachers. If he or she is not using the planner regularly, encourage its use and discuss how it can help in future years when the assignments will be more frequent and challenging. 
  • Plan the Evening Together – If age-appropriate, work together to set daily and weekly goals for getting the work done, taking into account any family plans. This gives your student a sense of “ownership” for the plan, knowledge of what will happen each evening and a sense of pride when the work is done.
  • Schedule Study Time on Weekends- Sunday nights can sometimes be a stressful time for students and their parents, as kids come to the realization that something is due on Monday, or they weren’t able to study as much as they needed. You can help lessen this stress and arguments by sitting down with your child on Thursday or Friday, ask them what studying or assignments need to be completed before Monday and Tuesday and pencil in time over the weekend for them to study and do homework.
Ask Good Questions – When planning, studying or working on homework, ask your student great questions that will help him or her think of a solution to an issue and to encourage independent thinking. If, for example, your student tends to misplace completed assignments, you might ask, “What one or two places can you think of to safely keep this assignment?” In this case, your student might suggest a folder, binder or backpack.

Break down big assignments into smaller pieces – Try asking, “How could you break down this assignment or project into smaller, achievable steps?”  Teach your son or daughter to identify small steps to achieve larger projects or to study for an exam and plan to complete a step or two a day. Not only does this prevent the stress that procrastination so often creates, but also increases the quality of the work your child turns in and helps her or him to be well prepared for tests and exams.  
Helping your children develop good organizational and task management skills is critical in ensuring success in school and in their future careers. As your children get older, they will need less help planning, organizing and achieving their studies.   In next week’s blog post, we will look at a few more ideas for helping your student develop better study habits.