- Papers crumbled at the bottom of backpacks?
- Folders and binders look like they’ve been through a wind tunnel?
- Assignment requirements misunderstood?
- Project resources lost?
- Assignments incomplete or late?
Grades suffer when a student has not developed good academic habits, and has trouble keeping on top of what they have to do, and when. Many times, these same students have no trouble learning and mastering academic content.
While frustrating for student and parent, these could be indicative of an underlying difficulty with executive functioning: the mental processes that allow us to organize, plan ahead, keep track of and manage time, remember and attend to details. Testing would provide a definitive diagnosis; however parental involvement and a few simple items/strategies may help in the immediate:
- Use an academic planner containing month- and week-at-a-glance pages to write assignments and reminders and check off what has been completed. The month-at-a-glance feature can be used to plan and keep track of long-term projects. Parents or teachers can help “chunk” a large assignment into manageable parts with completion dates so the final project due date can be met;
- Orally restate assignment directions so your child understands them;
- Obtain a sturdy accordion folder and label pockets for a schedule, planner, each subject (for current worksheets and resources) and completed homework;
- Frequently clean out and organize student’s backpack, binders and folders. Many papers need to be saved for future tests or exams, but do not have to be carried to/from school on a daily basis. These can be kept in a designated place at home by subject matter (e.g.: file drawer, binders, folders). Rescue those crumbled backpack papers!
Not all children welcome parental help and these interactions can be contentious. For those requiring outside intervention, Hoffman Education offers referrals for testing as well as academic coaching, a form of tutoring that helps with organization, study skills and good academic habits.
Here’s our suggestion for a New Year’s resolution: help your disorganized student get organized!