Good study habits and organizational skills can mean the difference between a successful student and a poor performer. A student who possesses the intellect to do well in school but lacks the organizational skills may easily fall behind and suffer from poor grades—especially as the workload in school increases and his or her schedule becomes more demanding. On the other hand, a child who struggles in school already and has trouble keeping track of assignments or is constantly losing things may find school challenges even more insurmountable.
Here are a few tips to help your child become a more organized student:
Establish a homework routine. Studies show that set routines and schedules are positive for children. Your after-school and evening routine should include a set time for homework, dinner, extracurricular activities and bedtime. During homework time, your child should begin by making a to-do list of his or her top priorities for the session, and he or she should check off items as completed. Your child’s study space should be free from distractions and stocked with the supplies needed so that your child can quickly dive into each homework session.
Make use of a planner, homework notebook or planner app. One of the most common issues with disorganized students is not that the students are incapable of doing homework, but rather, they forget or lose track of what they are supposed to work on each evening. Your child should have a simple notebook in which to write down the following—each and every day:
Check this notebook every night to ensure all work that is assigned is being completed at home. If your child is old enough to make effective use of a planner/calendar, teach him or her to block out time on the daily calendar for all commitments (school, activities, work, studying, dinner and sleep) and write down all upcoming tests, quizzes and projects on the appropriate calendar dates.
For students who use smartphones or tablets, consider a student planner app such as myHomework or iStudiez Pro, which each allow students to track homework, tests, projects and lessons, receive reminders for upcoming tests and assignments, and manage their class and life schedules. The better your child is at time management, the more prepared he or she will be for high school and college academics.
Make checklists. Introduce routines for all chores and tasks in your household and create checklists to help your child get familiar with the necessary steps. This also will help your child become more independent and confident and give him or her a sense of responsibility and fulfillment. For example, a morning checklist might include picking out clothes and getting dressed, brushing teeth, making the bed, putting pajamas in the laundry basket, brushing hair, preparing the backpack, refilling the water bottle, making lunch and so on. Show your child that good organization is important in everything that he or she does.
Make tidying up a nightly activity. Every study or homework session should be followed by five minutes of putting away supplies, straightening the desk and getting the backpack ready for the next day. Get your child into the habit of finishing each homework period this way.
Effective organization is an asset that will help your child as a student and a person throughout his or her life. Work on this skill at home and talk with your child’s teacher about the specific areas that seem to need the most improvement. As your child embraces this skill, studying and homework will become much more fluid processes—and your child will have the tools to be a more independent, successful student.