Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Importance of Organization (at home and school) in High School

Middle school and high school are about as similar as Charlie Sheen and Charlie Brown.  Therefore, the transition from middle school to high school is an important part of a student's success in high school.  The transition is a topic that should be discussed, openly, between the student and parent(s).  Topics that should be addressed to some degree include how the workload will be different, stresses that are often experienced in high school, the importance of setting short term goals, social pressures that are likely to present themselves, the need to get off to a good start with academics, managing academics and extracurricular activities, and strengths and areas of concern specific to the individual child.  These are, of course, not an exhaustive list of topics, but these are the ones that seem to be most prevalent. 

Academically, the most effective way of finding solutions to high school concerns is to become highly organized.  Organization begins at home before the school day even begins.  Wake up in time to eat breakfast, even if it is a slice of toast and a small glass of juice.  Having a pop and/or a donut in the morning thinking it will help you wake up is is just a false premise.  The sugar actually will slow you down.  Also, leave yourself enough time in the mornings to really wake up.  I like to sleep as much as the next person (probably more), but waking up just in time to get to the bus to get to school is counterproductive to needing to stay alert.  Most kids are used to being active when they wake in the summer....going from bed to outside in a relatively short period of time.  It is challenging to wake up and then go to school to sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture or engage in a low physical activity, such as a science lab.  Granted the science lab work will help fend off those feelings of being tired more than a lecture, but the bottom line is the longer you give yourself a chance to wake up, the better off you will be in a class with a low level of physical activity.  Try taking a shower, even for just 5 minutes when you arise.  This will help wake up your entire body (and you will smell great).

Organization at school is critical to academic success.  Failure to have a organizational plan is an assurance of an difficult academic times.   As 9th graders, especially, the last thing a student needs is to struggle academically.  Some things to consider is organization of the locker and the personal academic belongings (notebooks, binders, note cards, etc...).  Consider color-coded binders and folders.  Organize your locker using shelves that help separate your belongings (if you have the room).  No doubt the biggest reasons for academic struggles in high school are not getting daily work or homework done or getting it done but not returning it to the teacher.  There appears to be a "paper heaven."  There is a good book titled "Organizing the Disorganized Child" by Kutscher and Moran.  It is a simple book full of easy techniques that any child can use and modify according to individual needs.  Getting homework home requires the use of some sort of planner (most kids use some sort of planner, even sporadically), post it note reminders, or electronic program (especially good to for students with individual computers at school).  Making sure the assignment is accurate is the next important step in the paper trail.  Ask the teacher or check with a peer in the same class.  Don't leave yourself open by guessing or assuming if you are unsure.  It is important to get the assignment home if there is still work left to complete.  Two pocket folders are great for this.  One side is used for "bring home" and the other side is used for "take back" and no one else has to know the purpose of the folder.  This provides one place for the papers you need.  Once you have the work home and done, getting it back to the teacher is a MUST!  Every assignment is important and counts, even if performance is poor.  A poor mark is better than a zero any day of the week!  Put the assignment back in the two pocket folder.  Double check to be sure it is there before you go to bed.  Make the use of this folder a habit. 

Don't become frustrated if something does not work.  Brainstorm other options.  Make adjustments as needed. They key is to know that there is a way to get organized and you just have to find it.  By parents asking questions of their child and then listening to the answers, solutions can be found.

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