One reason middle schoolers have trouble in school is they’re not organized. But you can’t just tell your child, “Get organized!” Many kids this age don’t know where to begin.

Not only do they have poor planning abilities. They’re often impulsive, which makes getting organized more difficult.

Helping a child “get her act together” requires patience along with these specific strategies:

  • Stick to a family routine. Keep meals, bedtimes and homework time at about the same time every day.
  • Agree on a set place for your child to do homework. This can be a flat surface in any room with minimal distractions. Pens, paper and other supplies should be handy.
  • Make lists a habit. Buy your child a little notebook to carry around at all times. Suggest she make lists for homework, chores, and other things to do.
  • Give your child a calendar on which to record assignments and other commitments.
  • Provide box files, ring binders and folders. Help your child catalog and file homework, magazines and other papers.
  • Offer plenty of storage in the way of baskets, crates, shoeboxes, clothes hooks, etc.
  • Insist on a weekly “mining” session. Have your child search drawers and floors for candy wrappers, trash, broken pens, etc. Throw these away. Put useful items away where they go.
  • Encourage “self-notes.” Write yourselves little reminders of things to do and post them where they’re easy to see.
  • Every night, plan together for the next day. Confirm who will be doing what when. Lay out clothes. Pack lunches. Put backpacks by the door.

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