Getting students to clean their rooms, lockers, and school bags is one of the greatest challenges facing parents. If students cannot find their assignments, they cannot turn them in. It is all too easy to lose time searching for your notes rather than studying them. Most kids, though, think of tidying and organizing as a chore. It seems boring. Here are A Grade Ahead’s top tips for making organization colorful, fun, and less like a chore.
The Homework Space
First, set aside a space for not only learning but also storing books and supplies. Desks provide space for a computer and a surface for completing math and English assignments, but they also have drawers and shelves that can hold supplies and papers. A Grade Ahead understands the importance of color, so we recommend using colorful labels on desk drawers to delineate what supplies go where. For example, pencils might be placed in a drawer with a green label and calculators in a drawer with a purple label.
For younger students, consider using images of the items that belong in that specific drawer or bin. You could use a colorful yellow pencil to label the drawer where the pencils belong. Colors will make it easier for students to remember in which specific drawer each item can be found and to which drawer it should be returned after homework is completed. Colors also make students’ homework spaces more inviting and even intellectually stimulating.
Bookshelves are for so much more than books! Brightly colored bins can store supplies and even homework assignments. Many office supply stores sell boxes that are meant to hold magazines. These can also be used to store homework. Like in and out trays in any office, these boxes can separate completed assignments from assignments that are in progress. They could also be sorted by due date or by subject. A Grade Ahead recommends that students always put homework in the same place at the end of every study session, just as they should always put supplies back in the same places. This will make it easier to find the assignments during the morning rush.
Transforming A Humdrum Locker
Many students in middle, junior, and high schools are given lockers in which to store their personal items. These lockers often become a black hole into which assignments and school forms disappear. Students should be encouraged to organize their lockers just as they do their study spaces at home. Again, A Grade Ahead recommends using color as much as possible to turn a boring school locker into a unique and organized space.
Some office supply or school supply stores will also carry folders that can be hung with magnets. These folders can be used to store important papers to make sure that they do not get lost in the flotsam and jetsam. A small magnetic white board on the back of the locker door is an excellent place to write reminders—whether they be deadlines or words of encouragement.
Extra Organization Tips
All items in a locker should be grouped together. Supplies could be stored on the top shelf, for example, and books and notebooks on the bottom. Here at A Grade Ahead we like chalkboard paint and craft projects. Turn organization into a craft project by making labels out of chalkboard paint. Then, use colored chalk to write the name of what should be in the box or draw a picture of it. Use the same color-coding scheme you use at home to avoid confusion.
A Grade Ahead suggests arranging books and notebooks by schedule. Books needed at the start of the day should be on the left side of the locker, and books needed at the end of the day should be on the right side of the locker. This will help students quickly grab the books that they need. Just like at home, students should always return books and items to the same place every time they finish with them. That way, they will always know where they are.
The Dreaded School Bag
We all know that the average school bag eats homework assignments, school forms, and report cards in addition to notes from the teacher. Help fight the dreaded school bag by getting into a regular habit of emptying it once or more a week. As they get older, students will get into the habit of regularly going through their school bags themselves.
A Grade Ahead also recommends asking your students to pick out pencil cases that appeal to them. Books and notebooks can be organized by the student’s schedule in the school bag as well. If your student does not need the book or notebook until the end of the day, then the book should be in the back of the bag or at the bottom. Throughout the day, books and notebooks that have already been used should be placed on the bottom of the pile.
We all need to keep track of deadlines, and it is important that we be able to find necessary supplies and tools when we need them. Getting into the habit of being organized, then, is one of the most important skills students will learn. Hopefully, A Grade Ahead’s tips will help you to make organization seem less like a chore. Do you have any organizing tips that work for yourself or you student? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Susanna Robbins, Teacher and Curriculum Assistant at A Grade Ahead