August is the time of year when the first “Back to School” commercials often appear. Suddenly, as kids with backpacks and shiny sneakers parade across the television screen, I am filled with disbelief at how quickly the summer has flown by, and excitement about what the new school year will bring.
Many middle schoolers start the year with a backpack full of fresh school supplies – clean binders, unsharpened pencils, folders that make a satisfying “crack” the first time they’re opened. Every year, I find that students try to put these supplies to good use at the beginning of the year and stay quite organized during the first days and weeks.
And every year, a few weeks into school, I notice that students begin struggling to find specific papers amidst a growing pile of handouts, homework assignments, and permission slips. Especially for students just starting middle school, September often marks the first time they will need to balance multiple subjects, different teachers’ expectations, and a larger number of papers and assignments.
Here are some helpful tips to help middle schoolers stay organized this September and beyond:
- Use binders instead of folders if your teachers allow it. Folders often lead to an explosion of handouts that are crushed and out of order. In a binder, you can rifle through papers more easily.
- Depending on the number of classes you have, you may want a 1-inch binder for each subject. Make sure each binder is a different color with the name of the subject on the front and side so you can locate it easily in your locker and backpack
- Place a flat 3-hole punch and a small ream of reinforcements in the front of your binder so you can keep papers hole-punched and in the proper place.
- Keep handouts in chronological order. When a teacher asks you to take out a paper, it will be much simpler to find it if papers are in the order in which they were given out. It will also be easier to consult notes or study for a test when papers are in the same order as they were when you looked at them in class.
- Remove extra pages from your binder after each unit. For example, once your class has finished discussing a book in English, ask the teacher if you can remove papers related to that book. Keep extra binders or folders at home or in your locker to file those papers and free up your binder for new materials. However, do not throw out papers until at least the end of the school year since you may need them again.
- Use an assignment book or planner. Create a section for each subject, and list homework every day. That way, you will know which binders and books to take home. After you complete each assignment, check it off in your planner. It will feel great to know that you’re staying organized and on top of your work!
If you find that your child needs additional help keeping things organized, contact us at My Learning Springboard to meet with a tutor that will help your child learn and practice those lifelong skills.