Organize for Student Success

July 29, 2017
Renee Ory

Most back to school activity is focused on purchasing the correct supplies because it plays an important role in a student’s ability to successfully complete assignments.  And when the right tools are organized, contained, stored and put back it can make a major difference in a student’s effective use of time.

The older the student the more complex managing time and responsibilities become so it’s never too early (or too late) to get students practicing good organizational habits. It can be considered a foundation for a productive life long after school and into their careers and home life. Parents can set a good example of an organized home life by implementing systems to manage parental paperwork, coordination of activities and smart time management.

Although systems for organization have some common components, there are some differences between elementary, high school, college students and parental needs.  Here are some tips and techniques for everyone to stay organized, experience less stress and have a successful school year.

Elementary School Students

Some of us are naturally inclined to order and organization, but most of us must be taught! Providing strategies in the early years can help ease the transition to school.  Without these strategies the simplest of tasks can baffle a disorganized student. They have a hard time keeping track of their materials and using their time efficiently. These students tend to have messy desks and repeatedly forget their homework. Try these tips:

Set up and Stick to a Routine.
Establishing a daily routine will help disorganized students feel less frustrated and give them a sense of structure. Provide students with a class schedule that they can reference throughout the day. Place this schedule in their take home folder, tape it onto their desk, and post it in the classroom. If you make it accessible, then this will lessen the student’s confusion of what it expected of them.

Clean Out the Clutter.
Disorganized students tend to have very messy desks. They will never voluntarily choose to clean them out, so it is up to you to set aside time each day or week for them to do so. Show them specific ways of how to keep their desks tidy.  For example, throw away old assignments and materials you no longer use, place small items such as pencils and scissors in a container, etc. Doing so will give them the skills they need to maintain an organized life, and manage their responsibilities.

Monitor All Schoolwork.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with enlisting support from the parents. Require that homework goes home each night, and is signed and returned to school every day. This will ensure that students are staying on track, and will encourage students to be responsible for their belongings.

Create a Checklist.
Clearly define expectations by creating a checklist. This is truly the best tool to help students visually see what they need to accomplish and stay on track. Show students how to prioritize their list and check tasks off as they complete them.

Use the Buddy System.
Enlist the help of a classmate to remind the disorganized student of important tasks and student expectations. Pair the student up with a responsible student that you can trust, to help them out when you are busy or absent.

Label and Color-Code Everything.
The best way to keep students organized is to label and color-code all of their materials. Students who have a lack of organizational skills may feel overwhelmed when their materials are all over the place. Having specific colors for each subject will help students find assignments quickly and effortlessly.

High School Students

It’s important to have supplies in stock at home to reduce stress during homework time. Here are 10 tips for high school students to have a successful school year:

Use your school planner to stay organized.
Fill in things you must do (classes, work, practice, etc. that you can’t change). Write down appointments and class assignments. Make a daily checklist. Set priorities. Do the most important tasks first.

Organize some key areas in your life.
For example your bedroom, study area, car and locker are important areas. By organizing these key areas it will improve your ability to stay on schedule and stay focused during your hectic schedule. You will avoid the must frustrating situation like looking for an assignment that is due and you have no idea if it’s in your locker piled high with papers, the car that hasn’t been cleaned for a who know how long, or your bedroom that looks like an atomic bomb hit it! Being unorganized will cause problems in nearly every area of your life and developing the skill of organization will immensely improve your ability to become successful at whatever you pursue.

Schedule the most difficult tasks for times when you are alert.
Geometry, for example may be hard enough when you’re fresh. When you’re tired, it will be impossible!

Establish a regular time and place for study.
Utilize this space to study during the day if possible.

If you have a study hall during school utilize it.
Focus on your assignments and to do list in your planner.

Use daylight hours to study whenever possible.
For most students for every hour of study done in daylight hours, it will take them one and a half hours to do the same task at night. Study during the day especially during study halls.

Use short periods to study.
By using flash cards, summary sheets or your notes you can study in your spare time while you’re waiting for class to start or for a friend to pick you up.

Take study breaks.
Do not schedule a night before test cram session. Several short 50 minutes sessions are more effective than one long session.

Review Your Notes Every Day.
You’ll reinforce what you’ve learned, so you need less time to study. You’ll also be ready if your teacher calls on you or gives a pop quiz.

Prepare and organize whatever possible the night before.
A few examples would be to pack your book bag and lay out what you intend to wear the next day.

College Students

Being a college student can be a pretty stressful job.  Sometimes it is hard to stay organized with such a hectic schedule – being a student, having a job, having an internship, and being in a sorority/fraternity can make staying organized a bit more difficult. Here are a few ways to reduce stress and stay organized:

Keep a planner. 
Start the semester right by investing in a well-organized planner and taking the time to use it. This is one of the most effective ways to stay on top of your assignments, because let’s face it, it’s much easier to tackle tasks that are written down. Choose one with month-by-month views, which are great for scheduling ahead, and day-by-day views so you can write daily to-do lists.

Color-code with pens.
Color-coordinate by priority (low, medium, high) or category (school, work, social). Either way, using different 
colored pens makes an agenda more fun to look at, and dedicating specific colors to specific items will help you prioritize your to-do list more effectively.

Note important dates.
At the beginning of each semester, use your syllabus to write a chronological list of important due dates on a piece of paper so you have them all in one place. Keep the list somewhere you will see it every day—like pinned up by your desk—to motivate yourself and avoid procrastination.

Keep a digital calendar.
If you find the month-by-month view of your planner is getting cramped or it’s tedious to write out your class schedule each week, turn to Google Calendar to plan recurring events, like weekly class and meeting times. Another way to use your computer for organization is by creating folders for each college course at the beginning of a semester.

Find the right bag.
Carrying around a laptop is common on a college campus, so choose a bag that can fit your computer, along with your other daily essentials. One with several compartments will come in handy for keeping your pens, pencils, and other products organized, and choose a bag with water-bottle pockets.

Use binders instead of notebooks.
Ditch using five notebooks and five folders for five classes to avoid the dreaded day when you’re at the library with the wrong notebook—it’s bound to happen at least once. An easy way to always have what you need is to use a 
large binder instead. Fill the binder with a folder for each class, and then distribute loose-leaf paper throughout. If you find you take more notes in one class than another, you can easily add or remove paper to sections as needed.


Parents set up a command center.
Have ONE place where everything goes. If you use multiple places, you need to look for things often and make poor use of your time.

Be aware that traffic patterns change during the school year.
You may want to note how long it takes to run errands so that you are on time for drop off or pickup and after school activities. Be aware of school zones, student crossings and  speed limits.

Have an organized space or containers.
Things to contain are : mail, notes, forms, receipts, coupons, tuition schedule, service hour schedule, student directory, checklists and supply list.

Have ONE calendar for entire family.
Put all important dates on calendar. Color code by child.

Meet your child’s teacher.
Request conferences even if things seem to be going well.

Try to volunteer.
Classroom activities or field trips are a great time to observe how your child interacts with the teachers and other students.

Get involved.
Parent’s clubs or fundraising activities are a good way to stay informed.

Remember an organized life is the foundation for a productive life…

Call us at (337) 296-5506 to schedule a “Back To School” organizing session.

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