Get Your Students Organized

M does homework in april sun
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jolante

150 hours per year

That’s how much time is spent by the average person looking for papers and items.

Think about some of your students. Can you even imagine how many hours each school year some students devote to searching for assignments, books, notes, clothing and other items? Can you imagine how many of these searches are fruitless? It boggles the mind. If those 150 hours could be spent learning rather than looking, our students would be far ahead academically.

A critical component of school success lies in organizational skills. The late Erma Bombeck loved to accuse the washing machine of eating socks. At school, socks may not be a problem but how many of you have come into contact with homework-eating backpacks? Students’ lockers can be an even bigger culprit.

In working with students at all grade levels, I have used many, many different organizational approaches and techniques. Here are five of my favorite “tried and true” strategies that really work!

#1. Tame the Paper Monster

Many students have a paper problem. It’s all over the place- crumpled in the bottom of

the backpack, strewn in a locker, stuffed into books and falling out of folders. Loose

papers confuse, distract and overwhelm the student. The most important rule of paper

organization is: No Loose Papers!

One of the best ways that I have found to contain paper is the accordion file. Sturdy plastic expandable files are available at discount stores and come with a variety of divisions. Six pockets are handy. The concept is simple and easy to implement. Encourage students to label pockets in the same order as the student attends class during the day. Every paper has a “home.”  Think about math. Every math paper, worksheet, assignment list, review page, anything related to math goes into that math pocket. Retrieval is easy later when students know where to look.

Many accordion files have zipper pockets in front to hold supplies. It is important for students to go through the folder periodically. Many students need guidance in deciding what to keep, what to throw out, when and where to store papers that will be needed later.

One parent told me that her children, both of whom had significant learning disabilities, found this tool to be the single most effective organizational strategy all the way through high school. Both successfully managed their classes by always carrying their accordion files with them wherever they went.

An accordion file with twelve pockets is an excellent tool for parents to use in creating a school file for each child in the family. It becomes the designated place to save report cards, portfolio summaries, awards and standardized test scores. Everything is arranged by grade level from first through high school graduation. Parents may also want to file a photo of each child at each grade as well as include copies of birth certificates and other important papers.

Leave a Reply