Organization, good study habits, time management and goal setting are life skills that can help students through middle school, high school, college and beyond. As a student, being organized means finding what you need, when you need it. When you are able to find what you need, when you need it, it saves you time and stress.
Where and How You Study Matters
Homework and studying are most successfully completed in a designated clutter-free, organized study space, with necessary supplies close at hand. This allows the student to focus, as free of distraction as possible. It is also important to dedicate the appropriate amount of time and attention when studying.
Some strategies include:
- Planning in advance to have enough time to complete something and also in order to avoid conflicts with activities, etc.
- Breaking a project or study session into components and scheduling those times into a planner
- Putting away devices in order to remove or avoid temptation and/or distraction
- Setting up a reward system (using a timer, study for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break to look at Snapchat or Instagram, for example). Timers help us stay on track with a task for a certain period of time. Our favorite timer is the TimeTimer.
Good Study Habits Take Time to Develop
Learning effective study strategies can reduce your child’s stress about school and improve their grades, and it may even help both of you avoid battles over homework. Studying isn’t just a matter of sitting down to review notes, however. It also involves knowing what and when you need to study, and keeping track of assignments and tests. Like many things, these skills take time to develop.
There are lots of tools and strategies that student can use to get and stay organized, including:
- Using A Planner: the planner is for your LIFE schedule, not just your school schedule. Writing down homework assignments is WHAT you need to do. But the planner tells you WHEN and WHERE you get it all done. You have to put in everything – sports practice, music, church group, family dinners, events, etc. – in order to see the whole picture and to know when you’ll have open times to work on school assignments.
- Establishing a Paper Management System: having a place for taking notes, a place for REFERENCE paper (handouts, class papers, syllabus), and a place for ACTION paper (homework, forms for parents to sign). Homework – either coming home or going back to school needs its own place. Don’t mix it with reference or it will get lost. Use items to keep and manage paper, such as a 3-ring binder, an upright accordion file or colored pocket folders. Use and clean out your paper management system DAILY so homework is easily found and gets done on time. Keep your backpack and locker organized as well. Having a regularly scheduled “clean out time” will help make this happen.
- Creating a Landing Zone: assign a “home” for everything. Keep similar things together and store items where they are used. Students also need a routine place (drop-zone) to keep their backpack, instrument, sports gear, coat, etc. When they have a set place – and use it consistently – things are easier to find and it saves time getting ready.
- Asking for help: enlisting tutors, taking advantage of school study sessions or partnering up with a friend and “co-working” are a few things teens can consider.
- Remembering Self Care: encourage teens to take care of themselves – including getting enough sleep each night, good nutrition, exercise, and some R&R.
- Implementing End of Day Routines: when we take a few minutes at the end of each day to put away the things we’ve used and prepare for the next, we save time, we can find things when we need them and we reduce morning chaos. Pack a lunch, lay out school clothes and plan a healthy breakfast the night before, when possible.