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Organizing homework for students (and their parents)

I spend a lot of time in my seminars and workshops, on the phone and by email, discussing the topic of homework organization. In fact, I spend a lot of time listening to parents complain that the disorganization of their children’s homework is driving everyone crazy.

Many students have such a hard time getting it right that when they finally sit down to do their homework, they are exhausted. No wonder they don’t want to! Getting organized will help alleviate tiredness, bad attitudes, procrastination, and rebellion.

Organizing tasks simply makes life easier for everyone.

Here are the homework organization tips that I use as a student, teacher, and parent. Print this list and read it with your children. Then put it on the fridge and check back often so everyone (parents, kids, babysitters, grandparents) is on the same organized page.

At school:

  • Write down each and every homework assignment in one place. I strongly I recommend using a bound or wire binder, definitely NOT a loose leaf binder. I don’t care how careful you are, the pages will fall, and then what? You will not know what to do or when to do it! A simple notebook is fine, but a planner or calendar is best. Some schools even provide them to students. Use it.
  • Write down homework assignments as you receive them. This is mostly for older students who switch classes and teachers, but it’s a good habit for everyone. If the teacher says, “Oh, tonight I want you to read Chapter 4,” write it down in your notebook.
  • Write down each due date on a project or document, even if you have a brochure or syllabus. The brochures disappear (I think they come together with loose socks), but you will still know what to do and when to do it. yew you have everything written in your homework notebook.
  • Keep ALL homework assignments for the day together in one place. Don’t have a special place or page for math, another for writing, etc. You want to see everything in one place.
  • Go through your homework notebook three (3) times a day – Before leaving school (or each class), double check to make sure you have everything (books, paper, supplies, etc.) that you will need later.

At home:

  • Before you Start doing your homework, look at your notebook and make sure you are doing the correct homework, the correct page, etc.
  • Before you put everything away, take a quick look. Did you do everything? Well!
  • Make a decision about where you will put your completed homework: in a binder pocket, a special homework binder, etc. You can decide to have a color-coded binder for each class. If you choose to use folders, strongly We recommend using 3-hole punched binders and keeping them together in a 3-ring binder. Whatever you choose, stick with it! Don’t put your homework in your binder today, tomorrow in a binder … And never, ever fold your homework into a book or throw it loose in your backpack! Shudder!
  • Use your Magic Task Box. You have one, right? The Magic Homework Box is a box with all the school supplies and materials that a student needs on a regular basis. These supplies only come out of the Magic Task Box during task time, so you will always have what you need. That is magic!
  • Clean up as soon as you finish your homework. Now no later! Put the completed pages in your homework folder, then put the folder and homework notebook in your backpack. Not only will mornings be less crazy, you won’t have to sit in class knowing you did your homework and forgot it at home (doh!). Be sure to save your dictionary and any other books you have used.
  • Remember to put everything back in your Magic Task Box. At home, homework is not “done” until everything it is cleaned and stored.
  • Keep your backpack organized. Throw away all those candy wrappers and scraps of paper at random. Keep an area or pocket filled with a few items (pencils, a pencil sharpener, maybe a calculator) so you can do your homework anywhere, maybe even before you get home! Remove any tests, projects, reports, or grading documents that your teacher has taken the time to return to you. Why? You may need it to study for a test, for a portfolio, or for a project. You can discard everything at the end of the semester or school year, but until then put each item in its own subject file, but NOT in the homework folder. Remember, homework folders are ONLY for completed assignments that are ready to be turned in.
  • Do not give up! They say it takes 21 days to form a good habit. If you forget to do something on this list, be sure to try it. Hey, maybe if you remember to write down all your homework or clean for 21 days in a row, your mom or dad will do something more enjoyable for you! (Parents, that was a hint!)

A Note to Parents on Homework Organization

Remember that your job is to give your children organizational tools and show them how to use them. Your job is NOT to organize your child’s homework! So at first you can go through your kid’s homework notebook to make sure he is writing all his assignments in one place, but you would never dream of calling the teacher and checking. You can watch your youngster copy the science project due dates in her homework notebook; you won’t do it for her.

Yeah I know it’s hard to let go, I’ve been there! But, we want our children to be organized and independent learners, right?

You can do it!

(For more information on recommended homework organization products and The Magic Homework Box, see the site information below.)

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