Plan for Homework Success Without the Stress

by Melissa on July 19, 2010

When asked to describe me a few years ago, my cousin said, “You could put Melissa in a bare room with no doors or windows, hand her a Chinese Checkerboard, and she’d find some way to lose it!”

She was right.

I spent much of my life searching for papers, keys, my passport . . . It drove her (and I’m sure countless others in my life) bonkers!

When I moved into my own apartment in January, she drove out  from Vegas and said, “We are going to get you organized!” And she did.

In my new house, I have a file for every important document, a place to put my keys when I walk in the door, and shelves that are labeled so there’s always a place for everything, and everything is in its place.

By setting up the apartment in an organized fashion, my life has changed for the better. I have more time, less stress, and I feel more comfortable in my home than ever before.

How does this pertain to you? I know it’s July, and the start of the school year might seem far off, but now’s the best time to make sure that your child has an organized space for schoolwork. Putting in the time now will be a time-saver and stress reducer for the entire upcoming school year!

Today, I’ll be sharing some tips for how to set up your child’s “office” like mine, so you both won’t waste valuable time searching for papers or realizing a big assignment is due at the last minute. Here’s  a list of some things you’ll need:

  • A table to work on with a lot of space- There needs to be room for your child to lay out a book and take notes, work on projects, and have supplies out where they’re ready to go.
  • A lamp- this will keep your child from being distracted. A lamp has a way of zoning people in to the work the lamp illuminates.
  • A timer- this tool has been so helpful with every student I’ve used it with, and it’s been helpful for me, as well. Whether your child has to read for 20 minutes, practice multiplication flashcards for a set time, or help them to self-regulate so they know exactly how long they’ll be working instead of breaking, this tool that costs less than five bucks can change your life.
  • A homework supply box- This can be a shoe box, or a container that you used to use to store spaghetti. My supplies boxes aren’t fancy, but they do the trick. To make it more enticing for your kiddo, now’s a great time to let them decorate them with pictures or however else thy want to. Make a list of all of the things your child might need for homework. This will vary depending on their age, but some great things to always have on hand are: sharpened pencils, working pens, colored pencils, tape, staples, crayons, a ruler, a pack of gum, etc. (If you’re wondering why I listed a pack of gum, it’s because chewing gum is one of the best-kept secrets for helping kiddos stay focused on their work. I love working at a school where we’re able to teach the kids how to use gum responsibly so it’s an option to help them concentrate.)
  • Bins- I have mine sorted according to work I have to get done, but gave a great tip for how it might look for your kiddo: Mark them “Done,” “To Do,” and “Parent Signature.”
  • Calendar- This is where the big assignments are written up, so everyone in the family is aware of what needs to be done and when. No more last minute surprises!
  • Binder- This should be filled with labeled folders by subject, with a place for notes, handouts, and completed assignments.

I can’t begin to tell you how much these systems have changed my life. I was so ready for it that I was able to easily fall into the organized life once the systems were in place.

For the first month of school, however, it would be a smart move to walk through these systems with your kiddo every night. When we put in the work up front, it ensures the rest of the year goes smoothly.

I’m looking forward to hearing how much easier this will make your life, what you and your family are doing with your extra free time, or snags your system might have so we can brainstorm solutions.

Happy organizing!

Want more tips on making the school year run smoothly? Get 45 information-packed minutes of Melissa, Queenie and Patrick giving their best tools and techniques for free. Click here to listen.

Melissa is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.

{ 1 comment }

Heather July 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Such great suggestions. I think it also gives the kids a sense of empowerment of there homework and the space. It might give them time to think of how it will work better for them then past experiences. We are going to think about how we can set something up in our house since I can imagine we will be stepping into a new world next year with homework.

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