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academic organization

Ahhhh, another school year is approaching.  Anxiety may begin to rear it’s ugly head as kid’s worry about tests, homework, and arguments with parents and teachers about academic organization.

For some children, just the word “organizing” can strike a sensitive nerve. For these children especially, parents walk a very fine line when broaching this topic.

Parents need to have a conversation with their children, or perhaps the previous school year’s teacher, to assess the organizing strategies that were successful and the strategies that need improvement. Below are some helpful hints for parents to discuss the topic of assessing the organizing strategies.

Create a List of Academic Organization Success

Create a t-square and list the organizing strategies you noticed that were successful on one side and not so successful on the other side.  Be very specific in your examples but make sure not to come across as nagging.  The examples you indicate should be of strategies that were consistently not functioning or that were successful. Be careful not to have a laundry list of ten or more items on your list.  Make your list concise. Remember, you might lose him after discussing the third item on your list.

Prompt Your Child for Barriers to Academic Organization Success

Ask your child to list the organizing strategies that worked and did NOT work for him. For example, some children like to use one folder for each subject, while others like to use a binder for ALL subjects.  Some students may be limited to the teacher’s prescribed organizational strategies – but they may not have worked for your child.  You might have to prompt your child to identify the strategies he used.

Ask Questions – What is the Best Academic Organization

Ask specific questions. Most of the children with executive dysfunction I worked with are concrete thinkers.  If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer.

Ask specific questions like, “Why did you prefer to use the single binder as opposed to multiple binders?”

Share the List for Review

Share your list with your child. Cite the positive observations first. You want to set the tone as motivating and encouraging, so your child will be open to hear what you think she needs to improve on.

Discuss Academic Organization Together

Have a discussion with your child.  Hear what he has to say about your observations.  Keep in mind that as adults, when we are confronted with constructive criticism, sometimes we can become defensive.  Think back to when you were a teen and your parents tried to offer you some advice or gave you some constructive criticism. It wasn’t always easy to hear, especially from your parents.  Be mindful that your child may be having the same experience.

Brainstorm Together for Optimal Academic Organization

Brainstorm on how to make improvements on your child’s strategies for the next school year. If she told you the reason she did not use her planner was because it did not provide enough lines to accommodate her large handwriting, take note of that.

When purchasing school supplies, you will need to seek out a planner that provides more space for writing.  Perhaps an app will be most helpful in the coming year?

Implement Strategies for Academic Organization Success

Implement the organizing strategies over the summer.  If she used a planner to keep track of her homework,  have her use the planner to plan out the rest of the summer activities.  Routine is key for these strategies to become embedded.

Approach your child about having this discussion at a time when he is most relaxed about school.  Getting him while he’s calm is always a better strategy.  Remember to go to the office supply stores early during the back to school shopping stage while these strategies are fresh in your mind.   Shopping at this time will also afford you the opportunity to have more items to choose from.  Or if you prefer to shop the back to school sales, be sure to keep good notes about about discussion.