By Nathalie Kunin
Nathalie KuninAs our children will be starting the second semester of the school year, it’s important to get them back in the mode and organized. If their backpacks are overflowing, their work spaces are piled high and their homework gets left behind most mornings, your child may need an organizational overhaul. The following tips are designed for parents to help get things back on track, no matter what your child’s age.

Get Organized
Replenish school supplies so that glue sticks, sharpened pencils, printer ink and paper are all close at hand. Look closely at your child’s study space. Make sure it is well-lit and there are plenty of places to store old work and keep new work visible. This applies to your child’s computer desktop too, if she does most of her assignments on her laptop. Take the time to help her move old files and de-clutter. This is a good time to assess whether your child needs a bulletin board to keep assignments in her sight line, or a new system of folders to keep track of homework. In addition, if her assignment book is not being used daily, try a new calendar or assignment book that is better-suited to this year’s tasks. A trip together to the office supply store over break may result in much-improved systems.

This year’s homework may be very different from last year’s. There may be more of it, a class that is more challenging than expected, or a teacher who likes to give a unique style of assignment. Take the time to re-evaluate your child’s homework routine and create more time if she needs it, by reducing other activities. Students who feel like they are rushing often turn in careless work with many errors. Reduce these by slowing down and creating more time after school and on weekends. In addition, set time for breaks. If homework is more abundant this year, you child may need more frequent breaks, which oftentimes increases productivity. Remove distractions like TV and computer so that your child can focus more effectively. If you see that a teacher offers extra credit opportunities, take advantage of these second semester by posting reminders on your child’s bulletin board or work space. Sometimes, even older students need help with homework instructions. If this has been a struggle for your child this year, take the time to sit with her and read directions before she tackles her daily assignments.

Setting Goals
The New Year is a great time to sit down with your child and update academic goals, now that she is settled in and familiar with this year’s expectations. By now your child knows her teachers well and the level of rigor of her classes. Examples of second semester goals may be “complete math homework before dinner” or “write in assignment book everyday”.

While many New Year’s resolutions are set aside by the end of January, these will go a long way toward a successful second semester.

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