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Helping the Disorganized Student

Posted By JessieLeigh On July 10, 2013 @ 11:00 am In Learning,Public Schooling | No Comments

The new school year is just around the corner. If you’ve got a child who struggles with disorganization, these tips from JessieLeigh [3] can help you cut off frustration at the pass.

helping the disorganized student

My firstborn is a natural rule follower. He plays well with others and can keep track of all his activities and stuff. Sure, he’ll call out, “Mom, have you seen my cup?” before every baseball game– he IS a kid, after all.

But, for the most part, he keeps track of his school supplies, homework, and materials remarkably well. Not surprisingly, I appreciate this.

His younger sister, though less than a year his junior, is his polar opposite in this regard. She dances through life with a carefree joy that is infectious, but her inability to remember where she left her sock (yes, sock– just the left one) can be maddening. It’s hard enough to help her stay on top of things here in the house, but it becomes even more challenging when she heads out the door to school.

If you find yourself parenting a disorganized child, here are a few strategies I’ve found helpful for coping with a little one who seems nonchalant, forgetful, or just plain scatter-brained.

Set her up for success.

Organized children usually have methods for staying that way. Some children do a great job of establishing their own systems for keeping track of things. Others seem to be completely lacking those skills.

The more disorganized your child, the more organizational crutches you may need to provide. Have color-coded folders with bold labels for her work. Put her snack in the same exact spot every day. Use cases, binders, and bags to ensure there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.

It’s important that my disorganized child have visual cues– “Wait… why is this pouch empty? What did I forget to put in here?”

school supplies organized

Have a good idea of expectations.

Talk to his teacher and find out how often math homework is given. Find out on which days the following sorts of things might be happening: art, PE, library, spelling tests, show & share, etc.

If you already have an idea what should be coming home or going back to school, it will help you remind your child. It should still be his job to remember, but you’ll be in a better place to support him.

Enlist peer support.

I can do a pretty good job of making sure my scattered little girl remembers her art smock, sneakers on gym days, library books, and all those other things that need to go with her. However, once she’s at the school, she’s a bit out of my hands. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I had to ask, “Where’s your book to read? What happened to your water bottle? Why can’t I find your speech folder?”

And it’s frustrating. Not only were we then unable to complete assignments on time, we were also faced with extra work the following days. I communicated these challenges, and her teacher came up with a plan of enlisting some of our daughter’s more responsible peers to help ensure she put everything she’d need in her backpack each afternoon. It’s her job, but they double-check. This greatly reduced the number of assignments forgotten at school.

Post visual reminders.

School schedules can be complicated. Art, Music, and PE each take place twice a week at our school. Library is once. Added to that, we have speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, adaptive PE, computer, show & share, and guidance. If you have multiple children, it gets even tougher to keep track.

While my organized child always knows exactly what specials he’ll have each day, his sister approaches each day with a “we’ll see what happens today” attitude. She has no clue what day of the week it is, let alone what she might be doing that day.

Having a weekly chart that outlines what activities she has scheduled really helps both of us better plan for the day. This way, when she asks, “Can I wear a dress and sandals today?”, I can direct her to the chart and she can see if that would be appropriate.

Children who lack organizational skills need a little additional support to successfully navigate their days. But, armed with the right tools and tricks, they can learn to find and embrace order without losing their beautiful carefree spirits.

How do YOU help your disorganized child?

– A mother of three, including a 24 week preemie, JessieLeigh [4] is a determined advocate for even the tiniest of babies.  She can be found celebrating life’s (sometimes unexpected) miracles and blessings at Parenting Miracles [3].


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