One of the best ways you can help your middle school child is to teach them how to stay organized. When I was a middle school counselor, I often had parents call me and tell me that their child was failing or struggling in a class, so one of the first things that I did was check their book bag.
And the state of the bookbag usually tells me everything I need to know.
I’ve seen bookbags filled with crumbs, folded papers that were months old, and folders that were bent—I’ll spare you the unorganized details of all I’ve seen.
I could usually get a middle school child organized in 30 minutes or less. And I challenged them to keep it that way. We met for several weeks afterward for a bookbag check.
They usually felt more confident and ready to tackle whatever comes their way when their bookbags are clean and organized.
Here are a few tips for staying organized:
Get rid of papers that are graded & no longer needed
Kids are notorious for holding onto papers. How many times have your children brought home papers and then protested when you tried to throw them away?
You can help your middle school child stay organized by creating piles of paper to keep (study) and to throw away.
The more you practice with them, the better they get about deciphering what gets kept vs what gets tossed.
Use binders/colored folders to keep papers organized by subject
Even though many kids are doing virtual school this school year, they still need a space to help them stay organized.
It also gives their eyes a break from having to stare at a computer screen while they are not actively engaged in school hour activities.
Set up an area of the house that is quiet and clean. Use binders or folders to keep study guides and other important papers organized by subject area.
Use a planner to write down daily assignments
Middle school kids have so much to remember, and their teachers expect them to have a system that helps them remember.
In elementary school, teachers put important dates and events in communication folders and created weekly calendars to help parents and kids keep track of important assignments, tests, and dates.
The transition from elementary to middle school can be hard because the learning curve is pretty big.
Kids go from having teachers & parents do all those things for them to (overnight) teachers expecting them to know how to do it themselves. If your kids can master writing down their assignments in a planner, life for them in high school and college will be a little bit easier.
You may have to pull out your planner to model it for them until they can get it on their own. Be patient and allow them some room to fail!
Use email/other digital methods to communicate with teachers
Elementary school teachers primarily use digital messaging apps like Class Dojo and Remind101 to keep parents in the loop about what’s going on in their classes and in the school.
In middle school, teachers often use email, websites, and Google classrooms to communicate directly with their students. Remind your child to check their school emails and Google classrooms daily.
Some teachers will even notify their students about how often to check their Google classroom for updates.
Give your child a clean workspace
I love having a clean house, but with 3 kids, that becomes quite a challenge on a day-to-day basis.
But I’ve found that my children (and me too honestly) operate better in a clean working area. It sets the stage for focus and a clear area gives your child room to spread out. I would recommend having a space separate from the bedroom.
There are so many distractors in the bedroom that may make it harder for your child to focus.
Help your middle school child stay focused and on task by providing them a clean place to work, and help keep them accountable for keeping it neat and clean.
Use a calendar to chart important deadlines
When your child starts middle school, that isn’t the time to have a hands-off approach. They will still need your help making the transition from being told what to do for every step to being able to do some things independently without being reminded.
For children that are more independent, you can give them a planner to write down days for tests, assignments, and other important things. For children that still need some guidance, you can purchase a large family calendar and have them write things down and put the calendar in a central location in the house. It doesn’t matter how you use the calendar, it’s just important that you get your middle schooler used to using one.
I know it’s hard. Take some time to talk to your child about how the changes in the year have affected them. Share with them how it has affected you too. Being honest with your children opens the door for more effective communication.
Teaching your middle schooler how to stay organized is a skill they can utilize throughout their entire life.
Parenting middle schoolers is tough. Keeping them organized is even tougher. But tackling each step one at a time can help lower the frustration for you and your child.