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A Note from the Teacher

by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.

The Keys to Organization?
Follow the S.T.E.P.S!

One of the most important skills any student can have is the ability to be organized. Whether your child is entering grade 4 or grade 8, if they have the ability to keep their books, papers and projects in order and accessible, they will have an excellent chance of performing to their best ability all year long! Though most teachers work hard in classrooms to teach these skills every day, you can help your child to learn to keep themselves organized by following these simple S.T.E.P.S.!

S- Simplify Supplies

Students tend to want all of the latest gadgets and gizmos that are available in the back-to-school section of your local retailer, convinced by the media they are all necessary for academic success. However, encourage your child to buy only the basic supplies required by their school.

The more pockets, MP3 holders, digital planners, and other unnecessary add-ons your child has, the greater the opportunity to lose more important things they actually need for class. If your child does not get a school supply list ahead of time, you may want to purchase some basic notebooks and folders before school starts, and then ask your child’s teacher for their recommendations after school begins. Buying only what you need helps your child stay organized and helps you save money, too!

T- Take Time

Before the school year gets too far along, take the time to create a daily plan for how your student will keep up with school projects and materials; by making a plan as a family to be organized, your student receives the support they need to organize themselves and stay on track.

Decide on a certain place to put notices, backpacks, and do homework each day. Consider hanging a special calendar to write important school dates and projects on. Also, discuss who is responsible for checking that homework is done well each night; be sure that responsibility is placed on your student to promote good self-management skills; if mom and dad do all the work, the student won’t get the real benefits!

E- Eliminate Excess

As parents know, backpacks, desks, folders, notebooks, and bedrooms are all notorious sites for collecting clutter in many forms. Corrected papers (some that you may be very interested in seeing!), snack leavings, assignment sheets, and old gym socks are but some of the detritus that accumulates during the daily school routine.

Be sure that you have your child eliminate unnecessary papers weekly, if not nightly, from their needed school work in folders, notebooks, binders, and backpacks. Not only will this help to reduce clutter, but will help you to be sure that you are seeing more of your child’s work on a regular basis.

P- Prepare Ahead

“Chance favors the prepared mind” is a well-heeded piece of advice! Students should be taught to plan ahead as much as possible so they can be ready to do their best every day. Have your child prepare their work, supplies, and backpack for school the night before the next school day.

This reduces the stress and anxiety of last minute searching and gives your child a few minutes to review any special needs they may have to be ready for. In addition, have your child complete written plans for any long-term projects they have, so they can be sure they are ready to complete the work on or before its due date- without burning the midnight oil!

S- Succeed!

Praise your child’s organizational success regularly! Children who encounter small positive reinforcements from their family on a regular basis tend to keep up the habits they learn. Verbal praise, a trip to the ice cream parlor, or a special rented movie night can all be great rewards. By taking an active interest in your child’s hard work they learn how much you value their effort- and their education. Keep up, keep active, and keep your kids on the right track to success!

By helping your child learn good organizational skills, you will be giving them skills that will not only assist them throughout their school career, but throughout their lives. Just follow the S.T.E.P.S.- Simplify Supplies, Take Time, Eliminate Excess, Prepare Ahead, and Succeed- and your child will be on their way to a high-output, low stress school year! (And so will you!)

Best wishes to everyone for a great school year!


Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings, author, and editor of the Education and School Section, she has a psychology and an M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She was an elementary teacher in Massachusetts serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings. CummingsSchoolEducation and SchoolA Note from the Teacher by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.The Keys to Organization? Follow the S.T.E.P.S! One of the most important skills any student can have is the ability to be organized. Whether your child is entering grade 4 or grade 8, if they have the ability to keep their books, papers and...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids