- As a former teacher, I’ve seen the negative effect poor organization can have on students.
- Students who struggle with organization often think it’s impossible to get organized, but even just choosing one product on this list will help.
- From highlighters to binders, these simple organizational tools can make a big difference for students of all ages.
To the Type-A obsessively organized out there, these products seem like common sense, but to a lot of my former students who can’t seem to locate their pencil for class each day let alone their homework, these organizational tools are just what they need to get the school year started off on the right foot.
Time after time, I’ve seen students lose points on assignments or tests and sometimes even take a zero because they can’t find their notes or materials they need. It’s frustrating for them and for their teachers because even though school isn’t testing them on how clean they keep their locker, some basic organizational skills are necessary to keep track of school supplies, notes, and assignments. Basic organization is also a lifelong skill that can help students succeed in their future career.
You don’t need to buy a ton of products to help your child get organized, and you don’t need to fork over a lot of money on them either. If getting organized at school overwhelms your child, start with just one thing on this list — a small improvement is better than no improvement.
As a former high school teacher, here are six simple products I recommend for students who are trying to be a little more organized this school year.
A planner to keep track of everything
If you only pick one thing on this list to help your child get organized, pick a planner. I know it’s easy enough to keep track of everything electronically, but having a physical planner can be an effective way to get organized and keep track of everything in one place — assignments, homework, tests, meetings, clubs, sports, jobs, and whatever else students need to juggle. Another con of trying to do it all electronically is that many schools ban phones during classes. If a teacher assigns homework during class, students can easily forget about it before they have a chance to put it in their phones.
My high school issued every student a planner, so the habit of using a paper planner was ingrained in me, and I still use one today to organize my life. When a student has a physical planner with them every day at school, it will remind them to use it and keep track of their life.
Highlighters for sprucing up planners and notes
To those who are unorganized, this might seem like a big step, but it can take your student a long way. If they take my advice and use the planner, they can further organize it by color-coordinating: red for homework, blue for soccer, and green for work. Alternatively, they can use highlighters to mark off items they’ve finished or events that have passed.
Highlighters are also useful for organizing and sprucing up class notes. If your child is a visual learner like I am, they may have had the experience where they’re taking a test and can’t remember the answer, but can remember exactly where it’s at in their notes and what color they wrote it in. Especially if their brain tends to think this way, color-coding notes can help them organize their thoughts and better remember the information. A great strategy to do this with highlighters is to go back through notes after class and highlight important facts in yellow, definitions of terms in blue, dates in green, and so on.
Binders to collect and quickly find notes and handouts
The decision to use binders or notebooks and folders for classes might be made for your child by their teachers. If your student has a choice, binders can do wonders for organization. Binders allow you to move pages around; something you can’t do with a notebook. They also help students keep notes and handouts organized. Rather than rifling through their folder to find a worksheet on pronouns then also rifling through their notebook to find their notes on pronouns, in a binder, a student can keep that worksheet right next to their notes.
With a well-organized binder, it so much easier to find things quickly. Many of my unorganized students lose papers in their backpacks, lockers, or who knows where. And when they can’t find their homework, they can’t get credit for doing it. Once they develop their own system for how they like to organize their binder, it will be a breeze to find any papers or notes they need. I also like binders for students who are working on improving their organization because they can move things around as they learn how to organize and decide what what works best for them.
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