Your child is starting sixth grade. For many school districts, sixth grade is the beginning of middle school, a time when your child leaves the sheltered environment of elementary school and begins the transition to high school. For many kids, this is the first time they have changed classes, having a different teacher for each subject. While most middle schools work with students to establish organizational skills, providing some strategies of your own will help your child get off on the right foot. Teaching organization to a pre-teen takes diligence and patience, but your efforts will pay off.
Having a space of our own helps us stay organized and focused. The same is true for your sixth grader. This doesn’t mean you have to run out a buy a desk for her room. Although a desk is a great work area for many, others will never sit at it. Assess your child’s style to determine what works best. Some kids like to sit in bed with a lap desk for writing. For others, using the dining room table allows them to spread out and leave work out until finished. Whatever you choose for her work area, keep it free of distractions from siblings, TV and family chatter. Let her choose her spot, then reassess after a month to see how it’s working.
Ultimately, you want your child to take the responsibility for having the supplies he needs for daily assignments, but you can help him organize his work space with likely materials needed for homework. If he doesn’t have a desk, provide a drawer for supplies that are off-limits to other siblings.
The Dreaded Backpack
No one wants to go there, but it must be done. Make it a weekly habit to supervise cleaning out of the backpack and you are less likely to see unrecognizable objects emerging. In addition to the stash of crumpled papers, you may detect odors that you cannot identify if you wait too long. Provide folders for loose papers, returned work, school notices and flyers to help with organization. The clean-up is best left to your child, but stay nearby to lend a hand if needed. Be careful though that you aren’t lured into completing this ominous task for your child. This is all part of teaching her to be and stay organized.
While many schools work to establish a system for keeping track of assignments, be sure your child has an assignment book or planner. Look for one with a monthly calendar, as well as space for writing down daily assignments. The monthly calendar allows him to look ahead and plan for big assignments. In addition to his planner, it is a good idea to have a large family calendar at home with schedules for the whole family. Add in the long-range assignments that your child has coming up so he can see how long he has. Having the family activities on there as well allows him to see the things that will interfere with the completion of big assignments.
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