Keep School Supplies Simple for Young Children
For young children, homework often involves the use of crayons, colored pencils, stickers, colored paper and the like. Keep a small amount of each of these in a handy caddy or a desk organizer. Choose a product which has space for writing utensils and paper. Keep this caddy on hand where your child does homework. An important step in organizing school supplies is to have your student put their tools back into the caddy when they are finished. For example, a sixteen pack of crayons is plenty (vs. a box of 64), your child will be able to make decisions faster and clean-up will be a cinch! Keep it simple. There is no need to create an elaborate space with many of types of products. The key is to make it easy for your child to use and put their study tools away. The more school supplies you have on hand – the bigger the clean-up project.
Give Older Children Ownership and Foster Organizational Skills
Children in middle school may no longer use crayons and colored paper, but they may need other items such as protractors, rulers or a calculator. If they complete their homework at a desk, stock that desk with all the items they need. Wide-ruled notebook paper, a clipboard, pencils and pens, a calculator, whatever they use on a regular basis. Keep these items in a drawer or in a caddy on top of the desk. Keep the space distraction free, clutter free. Middle schoolers should be able to keep their homework space tidy, but they may need your encouragement in the beginning. Begin the school year by regularly decluttering the homework space together. Encourage the student to recycle old school papers and to keep important papers in a binder. If there is an item missing from their desk, encourage the child to go find the item instead of retrieving it for them. This fosters independence and responsibility. Clean out backpacks together with your child regularly. Notice and point out when your child is successfully using their organization skills.
Encourage Good Habits in Teens
High School students may be primarily using their laptops to complete and submit their homework, but they’ll still need notebook paper, pens, pencils, a calculator and a binder. You may have all these items in ample supply from their middle school years. Organizing their supplies may be a matter of corralling these items and making them available for your high schooler. If your student is a visual learner, it may be a good idea to keep these items in clear sight on a shelf in a labeled bin (instead of in drawers). Continue to hone organizational skills your student learned in middle school. Ideally, high school is the time to master the use of calendars, planners, and to-do lists. While many teens claim to “have it all in their head,” many will benefit from visual reminders. Let them figure out what works best for them, while coaching them to develop good habits through the use these tools. The teen years are complex, and many teens carry a heavy load (and not just academic). Instead of doing things for your child, ask them, “you look like you have a lot going on, is there something I can take off your plate?” And let them tell you where they need support.