How to Get Your Child Organized for School So The Arguments Stop

Set your elementary-aged child up for success

How to get your child organized about school so you can stop arguing
Getty Images/Willie B. Thomas

Do you wish you could turn back time and do school differently? Like, be more organized and serious about your studies? While that may not be possible, you can help your child avoid the mistakes you made.  And the earlier you do this the better.

Here are some good habits to get into that will serve your child well in school and beyond.

Create a School Zone in Your Home

Help your child become organized by getting organized yourself.

 Create a space in your home for school work  and encourage your child to do their work there.  First, pick a central location in your home like the kitchen or your home office.  Within this area, select a permanent location for your school zone. Make sure it's a space devoted to school and not just your kitchen counter top or kitchen table.

Next, create a place to store and organize school papers. Include a pen and paper for signing school forms and writing notes to your child's teacher.  This will be the spot you and your child will use each day to meet and review any items needed for the next day.

Introduce Your Child to a Daily Planner

Many schools provide students with a daily planner or agenda book. If yours does not, purchase one for your child prior to the start of the school year.  For younger children, it's simply a communication tool between the teacher and parent. For older children, it's a tool for listing daily homework assignments and test reminders.

Your child will use some sort of daily planner, agenda or calendar for the rest of their life. Help them use his school one properly and effectively. Each afternoon after school, sit down with your child in the school zone and review their agenda. Ask them questions about their day like what's due tomorrow and what's coming up in the days ahead.

Do they have a spelling test on Friday? What should they be doing each day to make sure they are prepared for Friday?

Help Your Child Remember What to Bring Home Each Day

The end of the school day can be a stressful time for your child as they rush to get their book bag packed and get out to the bus line or carpool line. In the midst of this hustle and bustle, it's easy for your child to forget what they need to bring home that day.

Help your child develop a system for remembering what to bring home each day. Give them removable colored stickers and tell them to put one on the front of each book or notebook that they will need that evening. At the end of the day, they can simply look for everything with a sticker to put in their book bag.

Or coach them to divide their desk storage space in half and to keep everything they need to bring home on one side (either the left or the right.)

Make Checking the Book Bag a Daily Event

Establish a set time each day when you and your child meet in the school zone to check their school book bag.  You can start by reviewing their daily planner or agenda.  Next, ask for any papers or forms they need to give you or get you to sign.  Make sure your child is keeping their papers organized in binders or folders as opposed to simply shoving them into their book bag.

It's much easier to stay on top of this daily than to try and correct weeks of disorganization and clutter. Lastly, review your child's homework assignments for the day and for the week.

The Homework Hub

Create a specific spot for your child to do their homework. Depending upon how much help and supervision your child needs, this spot might be in the kitchen, the office or their bedroom. Whatever spot you choose, it should be quiet and free of distractions and clutter, be well lit and include the proper tools such as pencils, pens, paper, dictionary, index cards, etc.

Establish a routine for doing homework. Some children do well coming home from school and immediately taking care of any homework while others need a break from the academic day before diving in. Determine what works best for your child and stick to it.

This type of routine will teach your child the importance of having a schedule. Encourage your child to do the most difficult assignment or task first. With that out of the way, the rest of their homework won't seem as hard.

Begin and End the Day With a Routine

Look around your child's classroom. You'll see schedules posted everywhere like daily class schedules, lunch schedules, monthly calendars with class birthdays and special events; and daily helper schedules.

This is because your child's teacher knows that children crave routines. It's also a great way to start teaching them the concept of time management. Create the same structure at home in the morning and at night to help your child stay organized all day long.

In the morning, establish a routine that includes waking up at the same time every day, getting dressed and brushing teeth.  Next, make their own bed (a great daily habit to instill early) and then eat breakfast.  Last, helping pack their lunch and book bag before heading out the door.

At night, your routine could include deciding on an outfit for the next day, making lunch for the next day, checking to make sure all homework is complete, confirming your child has everything they need for the next day's activities; and putting everything in a special spot so it's ready to grab as you head out the door the next morning.

Consider making a poster or a checklist outlining each routine. Review the poster or have your child cross each item off the list as it's accomplished. It's a great way to introduce your child to a daily to-do list.

Stay Connected With Your Child's School

Most schools have a website or parent portal where important dates and events are posted. Additionally, many teachers have their own sites where they post important announcements, daily assignments and upcoming test and project deadlines. Stay connected and encourage your child to use these online tools as resources as well.

Make checking each site part of your daily routine with your child.

Elementary school is a time of great learning for your child.

With a little help from you, learning how to get organized will be a lesson with positive life-long implications.

Updated by Elizabeth McGrory