Middle School

Getting Organized

LOOKING BACKWARD TO MOVE FORWARD

It’s 9 p.m. You’re having a beautiful moment with your child as you kiss him or her goodnight. All of a sudden, your child pops up, “Oh no! My vocabulary test is tomorrow. I haven’t studied yet!” The beautiful moment is now ruined. In a motherly way, you probably respond, “How can you not know there is a test tomorrow?” I bet so and so is already sleeping and knows all the words.” As we criticize our child’s lack of organization, we as parents, also try to make it better for our child. Now the whole family is awake and trying to cram the vocabulary words into the child’s head. The child scores an 8 1/2 out of 10, and all is well until the next, “Oh no!”

HOW DO YOU AS A PARENT ORGANIZE?

As parents, we use day planners, BlackBerries, or iPhones as tools to capture our schedules— a day, a week, or a month at a glance. Many parents tell me that they would not know their appointments the next week or next month if they lost their planner. And yet, what kind of tools do we give to our children to help them plan out their schedules in advance?

HELPING YOUR CHILD ORGANIZE

I believe in getting a large-sized master calendar and helping your child to map out his or her month. The calendar should include when homework, tests, quizzes, exams, and large projects are due. Each subject can be color coded: green for science (makes child think of plant life); red for history, etc. Additionally, all social engagements are put on the calendar, such as one’s extra curricular activities, class picnic, best friend’s birthday, etc. . .

WORKING BACKWARD

I think that working backward is the critical part of calendaring. If my child has a vocabulary test on Friday, May 14th, then we write into the calendar, “Monday: bring home words. Put words on note cards with a picture on the front (to remember the definition) and then write the actual definition on the back.” “Tuesday: study three note cards at a time” “Wednesday: review all cards” and re-review those missed. “Thursday: have an adult quiz you or give yourself a practice test.” “Friday: TAKE VOCABULARY TEST” All of these directions for five-days worth of vocabulary will be written in the color used for English class. The child who popped up at bedtime having forgotten his vocabulary now can break down the process of studying and leave enough time to learn the material. Also, by having a well mapped-out schedule, the child will be able to miss a day if something unexpected comes up and still be on track.

MOVING FORWARD

Working backward on the calendar will propel the student forward both in study habits, ownership in his or her work, and typically higher grades.