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Middle School Organization Tips (from a 15-year veteran teacher)

As your child ventures back to school, are you getting dizzy from all the deadlines? Organization is the key for your sanity (and your child’s success!).

The Middle School years are a time of increasing independence with your preteen and young teen kids. Most likely, your Middle Schooler is switching classes. There can be seven different courses with seven different instructors (each of whom with his or her own expectations). Your child is presented with a multitude of assignments, deadlines, and upcoming events. 

You may start questioning how much help you as a parent should give them with their workload.

Too much, and you become a nag. Perhaps you worry that you may make them overly reliant on you. Or it’s possible that they rebel, shut down, and turn in nothing. 

Too little, and you may have one too many “it’s due tomorrow!” crises.  These are full of mad dashes to Michaels for project supplies, late bedtimes getting work done, and even a tardy as your child scrambles to get things done at breakfast. 

Being a Middle School parent is about finding a balance. Here are some tips on how you as a parent can help out your 5th to 8th grade child organize.

It starts with the planner…

Some schools give each student a planner. Others make you buy or print your own.  This book is the most important tool your child has. Consider it the map to your child’s school life and the communication tool for you to help them succeed.

Some kids are great at writing down their assignments. Others struggle and need adult help. If you are lucky, classroom and/or homeroom teachers will check to see that your child has written down the assignments. If not, it is an excellent idea to make a parent planner check part of your nightly routine until you feel they are responsible enough to use it on their own.

Planner tips:
  1. Make planner checks part of your nightly routine the first few weeks of school. Step away if you see them be successful in school. Keep on your child if he needs the extra attention.
  2. Check to see if they wrote down specifics and due dates. 
  3. No homework in social studies tonight? Make sure they write down “none.” It avoids any confusion and worrying.
  4. Have your child cross out homework that has been completed and put away in the backpack. 

….And extends to the binder

Organization is key. A good binder has a place for everything and everything is in its place. If your child has loose papers, sit them down to find a home for each handout (even if it’s the garbage can).

Have your child conduct a weekly Sunday binder purge. Take out old flyers and past unit study materials. If they think they’ll need it for midterms, have them start a file system at home.

….Which is supported by your home study environment

Some Middle School students have the self control to do homework behind closed bedroom doors. Most don’t. Require homework time in supervised areas like kitchens or dining rooms. Check to make sure electronics are being used solely for homework. 

It’s still appropriate to ask your Middle Schoolers about deadlines. Start the conversation and support their efforts.

….That should include a family calendar

Family calendars are an excellent way to map out school work and life. If you have a family reunion coming up the same weekend a science project is due, writing down dates will help avoid conflicts. Color code your calendar with family events, after school activities, and big deadlines of tests and projects. When kids can visualize their time, it’s easier to get work done and avoid missing assignments. It also helps you as a parent remember poster boards on your next trip to Target.

….And a family who cares enough to help

Middle School is a great time for your child to spread his or her wings and find ways to be independent at school. But it is still an important time for parents to still be a part of their child’s education. Helping your children with organization is a great way to show your commitment to their studies and help them build life skills.

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