homework organizational tips

Homework & Organizational Tips for the New School Year

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website

With summer winding down and fall just around the corner, sunny days spent splashing in the pool and playing outside will quickly turn into structured days of school and homework. For many students, this time of year brings stomach-churning anxiety and unsettling nerves. You can help your child ease the transition back into school by teaching him strategies for effective organization and homework management. Try some of the tips below:

1. Set up a filing system.

When you embark on your annual school supplies shopping trip, purchase some tools for setting up an organized filing system. Help your child pick out a “working notebook” – either a 3-ring binder or a folder and spiral notebook for each class – that she will carry with her to school on a regular basis. Also purchase a large accordion file that stays at home for filing. Inside the file, label three sections for each class: homework, notes, and tests/quizzes. For example, inside the accordion file, she might label: math homework, math notes, math tests/quizzes, science homework, science notes, etc. She should designate one day per week to be her “clean out my working notebook” day, where she cleans out any papers she doesn’t absolutely need to be carrying with her (including those from the bottom of her backpack) and files them into the appropriate section of her accordion file.

‎2. Set up a regular work space.

Before the school year begins, help your child identify an effective work space that ‎he will use regularly for completing assignments. This should ideally be a clean desk in his room but a table in the kitchen or another room could work too. Make sure he has all of the supplies he may need for completing his homework: pens, paper, a hole puncher, a stapler, and so on. You can try using a “homework supplies box,” which some students prefer, where all of the supplies are kept together in one place. Just remember to re-fill the supplies when you notice they are running low, since a lack of supplies can turn into an easy point of distraction.‎

3. Set up a regular schedule.

Once the school year begins, after school activities, events, and school work all seem to pile up quickly. Carving out time to study and complete homework can become a challenge.  Thus, it’s important to set up a regular time of day for your child to complete her assignments. Some students prefer to complete their homework right after school, when they are still in “school mode.” Others like to wind down and take a break when they come home, and some seem to work most optimally right after dinner. Any of these options can work as long as they are right for your child. Just make sure she maintains consistency with her preferred work time.

4. Color code.

Before the school year begins, help your child set up a color-based organizational system. She should choose one color for each class: green for science, for instance, blue for math, and so on. All of her binders, note books, and folders should match the color she chooses for a given subject. When studying, she can even use color-specific flash cards and highlighters to maintain consistency.

5. Use an assignment book!

We all know students who feel they can remember all of their assignments without writing them down. Yet this task becomes increasingly hard to do and inevitably leads to forgotten books and assignments. Instead, purchase an assignment book that has ample space for each day and try using this 5-column assignment book strategy to reinforce effective homework management skills:

‎The first column  should be labeled “Assignment” and should be given the largest amount of space. The other four columns, placed at the far right, should be labeled: ET (Estimated Time), AT (Actual Time), O (Order), and D (Done).  During the school day, your child should only write down his assignments in the “Assignments” column. When he comes home from school, he should predict how much time he thinks each assignment will take to complete (and write it in the ET column), then decide on the order in which to complete them (1, 2, 3, etc., which he writes in the O column). Once he finishes each assignment, your child should write down the actual time each one took to complete in the AT column. After he puts away the assignment in the right place to be turned in, he should place a check mark in the D column.

The transition back to school can be a challenging one for many students. By helping your child set up systems for completing homework and maintaining organization, ‎you can make sure he starts the year off on a positive note.

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