September 27, 2021
It’s that time of year again! School is in session. How is your student managing their time? Do you find yourself constantly nagging them to do their homework? Do they always end up doing a large project the night before it’s due? Managing their time and organizing the tasks they need to do is a common issue for today’s students.
So how can you help them?
First, ask yourself some questions. Do they have a good system in place to track all of their to-dos? Are they proactively planning and working ahead? Do they have a way to look at their extracurricular commitments AND their schoolwork in order to see possible future time crunches? Have you discussed the benefit of working ahead and not doing everything at the last moment? Is their desk space organized and uncluttered, with appropriate supplies and limited distractions? Do they have both a paper filing and electronic filing system (they should be similar) in place so they can easily find the information they need to do their work?
One of the most important things a parent can do to prepare a child for schooling at the next level (e.g., middle school, high school, college), is to make sure they have good time management and organization skills to manage their workload. Each year, the amount of work a student is expected to manage increases. The system they used previously needs to be continually improved to meet their additional workload.
Is your student learning time management?
I’m amazed that our schools don’t actively teach our students to do this as part of their education. If you’re lucky, they’ve had a teacher that made this a personal priority. I’ve seen so many capable students whose work suffered not because of their ability, but because of limited organizational and time management skills.
So, if you haven’t already, sit down with your student and have them show you the system they use. Ask the questions listed above. Ask what is working and what is not working. Try not to be judgmental. Don’t try and impose your system on them. We all operate a bit differently and each individual needs his or her own system. Many students do well with a planner that includes both school and extracurricular activities managed together in a very visual, grid type format (the planners handed out by many schools DON’T work well for some students or would work better used in a modified way). Others can operate fine with a series of lists. Some like to use paper and pencil and others prefer to use an automated tool or application.
Ask them how they are filing their schoolwork, both paper, and electronic files.
Encourage them to set up a paper-based filing system in a file drawer or file crate for this year’s schoolwork. (If they haven’t cleared out last year’s work, now is a good time to get that done!). Most students file papers and files by school subject, making subfolders as needed. Others prefer to file based on their block scheduling (odd day subjects vs. even day subjects). The system should make sense to them and paper and electronic filing systems should be the same.
Finally, make sure they have a good place to work.
It should be comfortable and inviting. Ideally, they should have a hard surface, a comfortable reading chair, access to organized supplies, easy access to a computer and their electronic filing system, a file cabinet or crate for paper files (with extra folders and hanging files), and limited distractions. Some students need to be encouraged to leave their mobile devices in another room while working. Others work better with background music. Encourage your student to try a few different things. Many of them are surprised how productive they are when their phones AREN’T in the room with them.
Most students are using some system. However, many of them haven’t customized it to work well for THEM or are missing some of the important pieces discussed above.
For more information, contact Janet Schiesl.