An important key to middle school success is a child’s ability to get organized. If your tween does not possess a natural affinity toward categorization and neatness, this task can present quite a challenge.
The good news, however, is that with a little practice and consistent effort, the skills can indeed be mastered by even the messiest kids.
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Some signs that your tween may need some extra support getting organized include the following:
1.) If your tween has a natural inclination toward disorder. A messy room is often a strong indicator.
2.) If your tween has trouble getting out of the house without forgetting something. Along the same lines, if your tween tends to lose things such as jackets, hats, gloves, lunch boxes, etc.
3.) If your tween is frequently forgetful and/or seems to walk around with her/his head in a fog.
4.) If your tween's backpack and/or locker is like a bottomless pit, with papers and other items haphazardly crammed in.
5.) If your tween's notebooks are messy, filled with ripped or creased papers. If different subjects are mixed together.
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6.) If your tween often loses credit because he can't seem to remember where he put his completed assignment.
One of these signs may not mean that your tween requires more support than any other child. However, a few of these issues taken together may indeed mean that Middle School may present her with a bit of a challenge.
Helping your tween get organized is a task in itself; ensuring that he consistently stays this way is even more of a challenge. Practice does make progress.
While the first steps toward organization can seem overwhelming, once he gets the hang of it, he is one step closer to academic success.
The key to keeping organized is to find a stepwise process that works best for your tween. The hardest part is actually figuring out the system that best serves her.
Finding a starting point is the first task.
Here are some important tips on how to help your tween get organized:
1.) Color coding can keep things cohesive. Visual cues can really help keep things organized. Assign a specific color to each subject. If for example, blue is chosen for science, a notebook, binder or section color tab in a several subject binder should be blue. A sturdy folder of the same color is a must for each subject ,as well. This way any loose papers from each subject have a place to go. Moving forward your tween will associate the subject with the color.
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2.) All assignments should be listed in a daily planner. Use color pens, which coordinate with the subject color. An assignment in science, for example, would be entered in blue.
3.) Encourage your tween to exchange phone numbers and email addresses with at least one peer in each class. This way if he is absent from class or unsure about an assignment, he has someone with whom he can check in. These days many schools post the nightly assignments on a school website.
4.) If your tween has difficulty taking succinct notes, suggest that she find someone in the class willing to share notes with her.
5.) Promote empowerment through self-sufficiency. It is important that your tween learn to be responsible. While you may have the urge to do it for her, in the end it is the repetition of following through that will result in success and in turn lead to self-confidence. If for example, she is having difficulty organizing her thoughts and/or her study materials for an assignment, offering support and guidance is okay, giving her the answers is not.
6.) If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider finding someone else to offer support. No parent wants to end up in an emotional battle with their child over school work. Sometimes the best solution is to ask a more neutral party to step in. Older siblings can sometimes be a good resource if they are able to be calm and supportive, not critical and subjective. In some situations, you may be best served seeking the help of a professional tutor.
Middle school can be a magical experience for tweens. Armed with the right tools, even the most disorganized tween can become a master of this universe.
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Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.