By Dina Newman
Back to School is a time for meeting new challenges and taking on new responsibilities.
The following 7 Tips will help you get organized & help you stay organized throughout the school year.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINES
I. Create a morning schedule and practice it at least once before the start of school.
a. Try setting up a schedule in the morning that will help you stay organized. A sample schedule might be: Wake up and shower at 6:45, get dressed at 7:00, eat breakfast at 7:15, pack your lunch at 7:25, do your hair and makeup at 7:35 and leave at 7:50.
b. Make sure you allow extra time in case something goes wrong (ex: you wake up late)
c. Follow the same routine every day.
II. Mornings in most households are busy. To leave yourself enough time make these part of your routine:
a. Set out your clothes to save time the night before
II.a.i. Also set out any sports equipment for the next day’s extra-curricular activites
b. Pack your backpack the night before.
II.b.i. In addition to homework, also place lunch money, papers that need to be signed, gym clothes, etc. along with the bag.
If we had more hours in the day, we’d just fill them up with more things to do so USE YOUR TIME WISELY
I. This is a point in your life when time management skills really become important
II. We are soooo busy and have so much to do and remember that anything we can DUMP on paper gets it out of our heads and on to paper where you can see it and be reminded.
II.a.a. Writing things down will help you remember so when transferring over to do’s you’re less likely to forget.
II.a.b. Prioritize your list so the important things get done. Whatever doesn’t get done today can be done another time. Just make sure it’s written down so you don’t forget.
III. You can take on more personal responsibility by getting yourself out of bed at a certain time every day by setting your own alarm—without any help from parents. You might also explore using your cell phone as a time management tool. If you have difficulty waking up with an alarm clock, try putting it on the other end of your room so you have to get out of bed to shut it off.
I. Choose a daily planner with large weekly format over two pages.
a. Tape a copy of class schedule to the first page and place copy of schedule on inside of locker
I.a.i. Be sure your full name and grade level are listed in your agenda.
II. Use it EVERY DAY and make sure it has enough room for assignments, to do’s and note!
a. Make sure it is kept in the same location at all times so you know where to find it. I keep mine with my keys.
III. Do not underestimate the value of keeping an accurate planner
a. Don’t’ forget to calendar homework assignments, exams, quizzes and project deadlines in your agenda as soon as you get them.
III.a.i. Write the assignment on the day that it is due!
III.a.ii. Look ahead in your agenda to see what assignments are coming up.
III.a.ii.1. If it is a big project, then break it down into parts and make your own due dates for each part.
III.a.iii. Give yourself PLENTY of time to complete assignments because middle school work is new and different.
III.a.iv. Write in reminders one and two weeks before something is due.
III.a.iv.1. Even when you do not have an assignment, write: “NO HOMEWORK.” Once writing in the planner becomes habitual, the student will have few, if any, excuses for not completing an assignment.
IV. Have a special place for your agenda and carry it to every class and bring it home every day.
a. At the end of every day, read your agenda before you leave the locker area or during your last class to be sure what you need to take home to study or complete homework.
V. Another way to keep track of assignments is through a monthly calendar hung up at home.
a. There are some assignments, such as science projects, that will be assigned further ahead of time.
b. Break down the project into smaller projects that can be done along with the nightly homework, rather than a day or two
VI. Of course, you can always use the calendar on your phone, computer, tablet
a. Make sure there’s a place for your “to do’s”
b. Make sure there’s a place for your appointments (sports, music lessons)
c. Make sure there’s a place to schedule your projects, quiz’s, tests
I. Everything will be MUCH EASIER if you are organized.
a. Don’t rely on your parents or teachers to keep you organized.
b. Organization should be important both at home and at school.
c. Organization is a skill that will help you not only in school but also in every aspect of your life.
I.c.i. If you establish an organized routine, you will lay the foundation for academic success.
II. There are many different ways to organize anything.
a. Everyone organizes in his or her own way.
II.a.i. You have to decide which way of organizing is easiest and best for YOU!
*NOTE: Some people like files, some people like piles: some people like things out so they can see them; some people like things put away.
III. The following are some tips and ideas that may help you decide how to BETTER organize your items for school.
a. At home, you should have a special place for all of your belongings, not just schoolwork. (Maybe it’s your desk or, it can be a shelf in your closet)
b. Always keep things in the same place so you know where to look for them and where to store them. For example, put your backpack by the door where you will see it on your way out.
c. To keep your space clutter free, put away your things when you finish using them.
III.c.i. You can place books and folders in your backpack and secure them in a corner or on a shelf.
III.c.ii. A special container for supplies such as pens, pencils, markers and scissors will also be helpful
I. Practice before you need to use it!
a. Try it out several times to make sure the key works or that you remember the combination.
b. Keep the combination written down somewhere where you can find it (ie, your wallet, purse, backpack) and not where anyone else would know what it is. The locker combination should be written down at home as well.
II. Having a clean, organized locker is really important as well.
a. Purchase extra shelves and locker organizers. The shelves will give you more space for books.
b. Keep a magnetic pencil holder and a whiteboard on your locker door.
II.b.i. The magnetic pencil holder is for spare pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, and supplies.
II.b.ii. The whiteboard is where you will write your assignments, classes, and memos on.
III. How well you keep your locker arranged and decorated is up to you.
a. The ultimate goal is to be organized so that you will know where your things are and where to put things away.
IV. Look over your list/agenda at your locker each day before leaving school to make sure that you bring home the correct books and notebooks.
a. One big pitfall of being disorganized at school is forgetting a book at school.
b. Getting in the habit of going over the assignment list at your locker will create a positive habit of always having the materials to do assignments.
V. Don’t give out your locker combination.
VI. Keep your cell phone in your locker. HOWEVER, never leave it on because if it goes off, and a teacher happens to walk by, it can be confiscated or misconstrued by the authorities.
VII. Anything you don’t need at school, take home immediately
I. It is a good idea to get your binders organized from the start of the school year.
a. It’s always nice to start off on the right foot!
b. Make sure everything has a place and stays in it! Math papers don’t belong in your English notebook.
II. There are several different options and you should choose the one that you like best:
a. You can have separate binders for each class and choose a different color or pattern for each subject.
b. Purchase dividers for each binder and label a section for class work, homework, notes and other sections as needed.
c. The binder should include at least one two-pocket folder to keep handouts and other items that the student will have to remove from the binder.
d. For important handouts such as a syllabus, use sheet protectors to preserve these items.
III. Or, you can:
a. Color-code notebooks and/or book covers by subject area.
III.a.i. Keep the color-coding for the subjects the same every year.
III.a.i.1. It is easier to remember which subject is which color, and it saves money and the environment because you might be able to reuse items.
III.a.i.1.a. Get covers that are diverse in design or color so that you eliminate grabbing the wrong book or folder by mistake.
IV. Have a special folder or place for homework and for notes to your parents. Carry this folder to all classes and home every day.
V. You can also use an expanding folder with 6 or more dividers in it to keep your homework or anything important in each section according to your class.
VI. Have a separate project folder to keep all your project information and papers together in one place
VII. Keep binders and folders organized.
a. Take your folders home periodically and clean them out.
b. Keep papers in their corresponding notebook at all times. It will make things so much easier. You won’t have to be worried on the way home about which binder something is in
c. Many schools or teachers will require you to have a binder for their class and even schedule “notebook checks” where they make sure that you have all your papers in the right places in your binder
d. Keep your books and binders for the same class together so that they are easy to grab. .
Always do your homework
a. Set a designated time to do all of your homework
I.a.a. Limit distractions for concentration purposes until study time is over (Close the door, turn off the tv, cell phone)
b. Prioritize your assignments
I.b.a. One thing to keep in mind is to work on tomorrow first!
I.b.a.1. Some assignments are given a day or two before they are due. But, be sure if time allows, that they do everything on the first night assigned. For instance, if on Monday, one assignment is given in math that is due Tuesday and a short composition in English due Wednesday, have them do both. Because, on Tuesday, they could get several more assignments due Wednesday- Monday was a light day, and there would have been time. If you wait another day, you face the possibility of being inundated with more work!
c. Do your most difficult homework assignment first so you can get the hard stuff out of the way.
II. Designate a study space
a. Preferably a clean and well lit area
III. If you have sports or other extra-curricular activities that might conflict with your homework schedule, plan accordingly
IV. Keep completed homework assignments in the inside front pocket of the binder for that subject so you will always know where to find it.
IV.a.a. When you’re done with your homework, place it in your backpack in an area by the door
VII.d.i.1. You don’t want to lose homework and possibly suffer a lower grade because you can’t find work to submit to your teachers
VIII. Always be prepared.
a. Have extra sharpened pencils on hand as well as a water bottle.
IX. Keep phone numbers of two people in each class so you can call them to get information about homework assignments.
X. Visit your teachers’ websites to check homework assignments.
Bottom line is if you’re organized, it will make your life much easier!
Dina Newman is the CEO of Organizing Concepts and Designs.