After a long summer, it can be difficult for students to get back into the rhythm of school, especially if they struggle with executive functioning. The beginning of the school year is a great time to create new habits – especially if your children are transitioning from elementary to middle or middle to high school. Read on for organizing tips from Melissa Wilson, one of the lead educators at Engaging Minds, to help students start the year off right.
Students may put off end-of-summer tasks, like back-to-school shopping, because they don’t know where or how to start. Checklists are a great way to get them back into an academic mindset. Before children start, have them gather all syllabi and school materials. This way, they won’t forget any critical items. And once they have completed a task or picked up items for school, have them cross it off the list.
"Engaging them in these tasks will help them to mentally prepare for school and feel as though they are in control," Wilson advised.
Students can also post daily checklists on the front door once the school year begins. That way, they have a physical, visual reminder to double check that they have everything they need for the coming school day.
It can be difficult for students to focus at school if they’re constantly scrambling and searching for syllabi or homework packets. Picking up binders, accordion folders or planners is a great way to help students stay organized. Ask your children what organizational system works best for them, Wilson recommended.
“When kids are part of the process in creating an organizational system, then they are more likely to continue using that system," she noted.
However, an organizational system can only assist students if they use it. After the first few weeks of school, check in with your children to make sure they are still using their binders or folders to stay organized. If not, they may need to reassess.
Ask your children to visualize what a stress-free morning looks like. Are their clothes laid out? Are all of their books already in their backpacks? Is their lunch made or is there already money on a prepaid card? By visualizing the final product, you may be able to help your children create a checklist of the steps they need to take to accomplish this.
“This is an excellent routine for your child to get into – no matter the age,” said Wilson. “This [routine] will help them to remember all of their necessary items, so they are not leaving things behind in the morning or scrambling to organize their necessary items.”
Backward design can also be a great tool for children and adolescents when it comes time for imagining a space for homework or studying. The dining room table or bedroom desk can be a great space for students – and keeping it a clean, distraction-free zone can help students stay on task.
Get the School Year Started Right
These are just some of the tools Engaging Minds instructors utilize to keep students organized during the school year. To learn more about these strategies and additional tools that will work best for your child, please contact us here and schedule an appointment.