Archive for the ‘school’ Category

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Reading, Writing, and … Organization?

July 14, 2014
It’s hard to believe that, in just a few weeks, it will be back-to-school time! I personally have a few years more to observe this season of life. Mymessykids son is headed to his freshman year at Texas Tech, and my daughter is entering Texas Christian University with the anticipation of having her Master’s Degree in Social Work in one year!

Some of you are in the same season of parenthood as I am, or your children may just be entering Kindergarten. Learning to be organized in school will not only aid in their academic success, but will establish skills that will help them succeed in life. Here are some tips to help them survive the educational world:

For elementary age:
  • Establish a routine for when your child first gets home. Review their backpack contents with them. This gives you the opportunity to talk about their day, as well as helps insure assignments are completed timely. Be sure to check for notices about important school dates and note them on the family calendar!
  • In the evening:
    • Have your child pick out their clothes for the next day. This will save on some of the morning stress!
    • Check to make sure their backpack contains any necessary papers due.
    • Packing lunch is a task that can be completed the night before, many times by the child themselves.

For middle school/high school age:

  • SUBJECTS: Keep assignments and class information together in binders with tabs, separate spiral notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject. One suggestion is to take notes in one notebook and rewrite them into separate class binders at the end of each day. While it takes more time, this allows the student to read, write, and summarize all that was important during the school day. The more material is reviewed, the more likely it is to be retained knowledge.
  • SCHEDULE: Have a planner! Many schools these days realize the benefits of being organized and provide planners to the students. Encourage your child to note due dates in their planner for homework, projects, permission slips, etc. Be sure they include the non-academic deadlines such as team practices, drama rehearsals, etc. Using a planner is a great way for them to learn time management as well as goal setting.
  • SPACE: Kids need adequate study space that is clean, orderly, and quiet. (Try to avoid places that are the center of activity.) It’s best to study at a table or desk withstudying a comfortable, supportive chair, and enough light to avoid eye strain. The room should be comfortable. Concentration is difficult if the room is too hot or cold, or there is a parrot throwing sunflower shells from its cage!
  • MATERIALS: Have resources available such as supplies, notes, research aides, and/or a computer. Having all of these in one location eliminates the distraction of stopping to find the stapler or dictionary.
  • FOCUS: Research shows that, when people do many things simultaneously, they do a worse job on all of them than if they’d focused on one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean you need total silence to study. Listening to music can actually help some people concentrate–especially if they have to study in a noisy environment.
  • REFRESH: A 15-minute break after 45 minutes of studying can help a mind stay fresh and focused. Exercise is a great way to clear your head and allow the mind to absorb what’s just been studied. Your child can take Fido for a walk around the block or do some stretches, grab an apple, etc. It’s a good habit for them to set a timer for the break to ensure they get back to their studies when 15 minutes are up.
  • FREE TIME: Most children today use a computer for research or to type papers. It’s hard to avoid temptations like social media. Have them schedule separate “free computer time” so they can focus on school work knowing they will not completely miss out on those activities.
  • PLAN AHEAD: In the evening, your child should be sure to pack everything needed for class the next day–especially assignments due.
Forcollegedirection College students:
This section is written directly to the college student. Print it and give it to them or provide them with the link to this post.

College is not only about learning your major, but about learning how to organize your life in order to succeed. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this:

  • Your Planner is Your Best Friend! Whether it is school-provided or self purchased, your planner is going to be key to getting organized. With multiple classes, it can be difficult to keep track of due dates and tests. Each class typically has a syllabus that provides you with valuable information for that class. Use different-colored markers or pens to write down when chapters need to be read, papers are due, tests are given, and any important days off. (Be sure you pay attention to any subsequent changes from your professors.) When you learn of an upcoming test or event, immediately jot it in your planner–don’t wait for later. Always have your planner with you and keep it somewhere you can see it so you remember to check it regularly.
  • Color Coding. Just like using the different colored pens or markers for your planner, having different colored folders or binder for each class is an easy way to get organized.
  • USB Power! On the USB, make one folder for every class to store any class assignments, as well as any downloads that you are expected to have.
  • Cell Phone Magic! Most cell phones today have a reminder or calendar feature. If you need to remember a certain event, even if you think you’ll remember on your own, set the phone to remind you ahead of time.
  • Schedule Study Time. The old saying is true that “all work and no play make one a dull person.” (Ok, it’s altered some.) Finding a balance to work and play is especially difficult in college. To stay organized, you need to set aside a certain amount of time to study, ideally at the same time every day. Be sure to take short breaks every hour (set a timer!). Try to set your study time for when you are well rested. If you’re really tired, you are most likely not going to retain any information. If you can’t avoid having to study when you’re tired, be sure to have brain-power food on hand. Apples are an excellent choice, as are protein bars, and peppermint is known to increase alertness.
  • Keep Stocked! A key to being organized is to have things available when you need them. Keep the basics in your backpack: pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, and post-its for example.library
  • Avoid Procrastination! Just because a paper is not due for a while doesn’t mean you should wait to complete it. If you get things done early, you have time to review and your life will be much more organized and simple. Bonus, you won’t stress over it when everyone else is downing multiple energy drinks at 3:00 am wishing they had followed this tip!
  • Professors Are There For You. Having good relationships with professors is really important. Arrive to class on time and participate in discussions. If you are having trouble in a course, schedule time with the professor. The more you interact with your professor, the better chance they will help you when needed, and they’ll be more inclined to provide a good recommendation when requested.
  • Take Care Of You! This is the secret key to being organized. It is imperative to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. You can’t be organized if you don’t have the physical, emotional, and mental energy to function.

Using these tips will help you survive college with a lot less stress, and a lot more peace!

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