In an earlier blog post I wrote about a color-coded notebook system that helps disorganized students stay organized. Students who are visual learners benefit from using color to help them keep up with everything. Color can help them when studying and working on homework, too. When shopping for school supplies, consider purchasing some of the following inexpensive “tools” to help your visual student. Other types of learners can borrow the idea as well, because it can be helpful to anyone who has trouble finding what they need.

1. Colored pencils, pens, or markers. Visual learners need to have a way to color code a variety of things as they work. For example, when working math problems some students benefit from circling the positive and negative signs in two different colors, before starting to work the problem. When reading literature, they can circle new character names in one color, underline important events in another, and underline significant quotes in a third color. Later when studying for a quiz, they can quickly find the relevant information.

2. Colorful sticky flags or paper clips. There are many times when it is not appropriate to write in a book. In these cases using stick-on flags of various colors can accomplish the same task as described in the first bullet point. Some of my students use different colored paper clips to mark important pages. Used as a bookmark, the clip can be placed on the page near the important information.

3. Colorful notebook tabs or file folders. If your visual student uses a color-coded notebook system, it might be a good idea to add tabs to their binder that match the different subject colors. For example, a green tabbed divider can mark the section where their science papers are located. Some students benefit from taking papers out of the binder and placing them in color-coded file folders that match the colors in their notebook. This is especially helpful just after finishing a unit and taking the test on it. The work will still be available for later if needed, but not cluttering up their notebook.

4. A zippered plastic pouch for the notebook. Any school supplies that go back and forth to school need a convenient storage compartment in the notebook binder or book bag. One possibility is to purchase a zippered pouch that clips inside the binder.

Just because they have a system doesn’t mean students will be able to immediately color-code important information or keep everything organized. For parents, it takes time and patience to help students learn how to color-code and how to keep their supplies organized. For some students, this help is provided at school; if that’s not the case, help must be provided at home.

A portion of homework time should be devoted to learning these skills. As soon as the student finishes his homework is the time to get everything in order for the next school day. A parent or tutor will need to be involved until the student can take ownership of the processes. The goal is always independence, but it takes work and practice to get to that point.