How to Teach Your Middle Schooler Organizational Skills
Organization doesn’t necessarily come naturally to kids
Many kids don’t know how to be organized
The transition from elementary to middle school offers plenty of adjustments for adolescents
Middle school students’ developing cognitive ability often lags behind school demands
Your child needs the right supplies to get organized
Order tasks logically to reduce stress
Designate a specified destination for your child’s outgoing tasks, homework, and projects
Use a whiteboard to help your student visualize and organize projects or tasks
Create a daily and weekly schedule
As a parent, you want your child’s adjustment to middle school to be as smooth as possible. Middle school comes with a lot of changes to your child’s daily life. The ability to stay organized will help your student succeed in school. Without organizational skills, students risk low grades and increased stress.
In this article, we detail some of the issues facing children as they enter middle school. Organization doesn’t necessarily come naturally to young people. We then offer simple tips and tricks you can use to help your middle school student get organized.
Your child’s cognitive development improves in middle school
Children’s brains go through a developmental process that isn’t finished until age 25. As they enter middle school, they are developing new cognitive abilities. They usually gain the ability to:
Consider several possibilities and abstract concepts
Play off of ideas from one another, or think “multi-dimensionally”
Think in a metacognitive sense – “think about thinking”
Look at things from different viewpoints
This is all great news for your child’s development. But, there’s a problem. Sometimes, the new demands of the middle school experience outpace your child’s developing cognitive abilities. This is where organizational skills can come into play and can greatly help a young student stay on track.
Some challenges of middle school
While in elementary school, your child's life was less complex. Students stay in one classroom with one teacher for most of the day. They also sit at one desk.
In middle school, this simplified routine changes. Middle school is far more complex for your child’s developing brain. Kids must get used to different teachers throughout the day. They don’t stay at the same desk. They have to remember to bring all of their belongings each time they leave a classroom or jog to the locker to get what they need. It’s a lot of adjusting.
The biggest challenge? Kids are usually not prepped enough for these changes in elementary school. Some children never have to learn organizational skills. Parents, siblings, teachers, or guardians may have kept them organized.
If they are not taught organizational skills, it’s not surprising they don’t know how to get organized. They may not understand why organization is so important. Let’s dive into the ways that you can teach them organizational skills and why they’re important for success.
Start with the right supplies
It doesn’t matter if the school year is just starting or halfway finished. Get your child the correct supplies so they can complete their work and stay organized. Save yourself a little stress and go right to the source. Contact your child’s teachers and find out what they need. In most cases, the following list will get you started:
Pencils, pens, highlighters, and other writing utensils
Lined notebook paper
3-ring binders and folders
A locker organizer
A whiteboard and dry erase markers
Your child will also need a quality backpack. Consider getting one with multiple pockets. Several pockets keep things organized. They can use pockets for specific classes or projects. This is better than one big black hole of odds and ends!
Help your child outline tasks logically
Teach your middle schooler how to prioritize tasks. Separate tasks and assignments by class. Then, organize them by due dates.
When your student sees how certain tasks or projects are due further out than others, they will feel better. This can help reduce their stress. Without this lesson, it’s easy for a student to feel overwhelmed by the perceived avalanche of material due.
Remember the agenda from the supplies list? Encourage your child to bring it to school every day. Stress the need to bring it to every class, too.
They can use one page in the agenda to write down that day’s assignments. Later at home, they can use what they wrote to organize everything according to due dates and classes. Outlining everything allows them to go back and check on anything at any time.
Use a whiteboard at home for visual organization
People are forgetful, regardless of age. Children are often more forgetful because of their developing cognitive functions. There’s a simple tool you can use at home to keep them on target.
Install a whiteboard in a visible, high traffic area. Get an assortment of colored dry erase markers. Use one color for each class. A whiteboard will give you and your student a quick reference system to keep track of assignments.
Giving your child a visual reference will keep them on target. You can use the same whiteboard, too. This also allows you to stay in the loop on their upcoming assignments and make sure they get them done.
Create a daily and weekly schedule
Using both the whiteboard and agenda, create a daily and weekly schedule. Help your child create an hourly schedule of how long they will work on each assignment. Be sure to schedule breaks. Working for too long without breaks results in sub-par work or faulty memory.
Here’s a pro tip: In each daily entry, add in any assignments that are coming due. This will help remind your child to devote some time to completing long-term projects. Without this daily reminder, it’s easy for a long-term project to sneak up on a person.
In your child’s weekly schedule, write down the assignments and the due dates. This helps your child create a checklist to stay on track. It also creates a long-term picture.
Here’s a pro tip: Have a box or container near your front door. Add anything your child needs to take with them to school in this location the night before. This will ensure that papers that need to go to you and back to the teacher are not lost, among other benefits.
Getting your child organized is good for their long-term mental health
Many adults forget that being a child is stressful at times! Adults from all walks of life look at adulthood as when stress in life begins. We forget that children have their fair share of stress, too. There are many new classes and procedures in middle school. These can be overwhelming to kids.
When a child learns organizational skills, they can look at tasks and duties more clearly. They will feel more comfortable and in control of what’s expected of them. This is a big benefit for your child’s social-emotional well-being.
Getting organized is something many of us were just told to do without actual instruction on how to do it. Many kids aren’t taught organizational skills as they grow up. That’s why we are helping you start early.
Lamad Academy is a middle school with the main focus on providing cutting-edge, technology-based STEAM education that was previously unavailable within the communities we serve. We are dedicated to teaching and training young scholars in academics and the ways to be successful in school and life. If you are interested in enrolling your child in our middle school, contact us today.