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School’s Out, Organize Now!

A bi-weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Elizabeth Colon and Christa Huntley, Above Grade Level

As an in-home tutoring company, we find that students perform better in the comforts of their own home, free from judgment of their peers. There are times, however, when the cluttered environment at home can be a contributing factor to poor school performance. Of course we never judge our students homes — heck my house is a disaster quite often with a one year old — but we want to provide some suggestions on how to organize and get your home “school-ready” over the summer to provide a GREAT learning environment for your student.
De-clutter:

If you haven’t used it in the last six months, sell it, give it, chuck it!
When de-cluttering, remember that just because you let something go doesn’t mean you lose the memory. (I hung onto a prom dress for 15 years because it was handmade by my grandmother who passed. At the end of the day, I was never going to wear it again nor was my child so I gave it to Goodwill. The memory of my grandmother handcrafting it did not leave me when I gave it away).
It is amazing how light you feel when you let go of “stuff.” Imagine how your child will feel when he/she is not distracted by the wall full of knickknacks or the counter full of old mail.

Designate a Homework Area:

Amazon has an inexpensive wall desk that takes up very little room but gives your child space to get things done. Find it here (I am not a paid spokesperson for Amazon, I just really love this desk)! If you like DIY, click here (no affiliation, just love Anna White’s work). Best part, you can put the to-do list right on the front!
Be sure to label areas on the desk that are specific to your child’s needs. For example, some elementary students get all their homework on Mondays but it isn’t due until a specific day during the week. Create and label daily homework folders that go in one of the file slots for the desk I’ve mentioned above. As your student completes homework they can place the finished product in the corresponding folder.

Separate Block Days:

Backpack A is used on A days and Backpack B is used on B days. I have a student who has an A backpack and a B backpack. This works for her because she never misses a beat. She always has the right books in the right place when she needs them on the day she needs them.

Block Out Time:

I know your student is BUSY! Their homework time is competing with swim team, band practice, Eagle Scouts or football. Open an excel file and number the rows in column A with their after school time, each row with a time (3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m.). Block off extracurricular time and homework time. Have your student block off the subjects that come easiest for them first (as long as these are also the quickest assignments to complete). Then have your student fill in the blocks for the subjects that take them the longest. We are trying to make a calendar that looks something like this Excel Schedule. We want them to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment by being able to work through the easiest subjects first. Some could see this as procrastination, but feeling good about what you’ve been able to accomplish in a short amount of time builds self-confidence.
Consider using a planner that is designed to help your student with time management and organization like this one here!

Hire An Organizer:

I end my columns frequently with the phrase, “if the above seems insurmountable, hire a tutor.” This week I am saying, “hire an organizer.”  We have a plethora of resources out there to help us, we just need to be willing to ask. If you are in Fredericksburg, interview Linda Clevenger with Organization Direct and if you are in Alexandria/NOVA area, interview Nicole Athas with Practically Organized. These ladies can help you organize!  (Linda and Nicole are personal friends of mine who I trust. I do not get anything out of referring you to them.)

Read Elizabeths and Christa’s other Fredericksburg.Today columns.
Columns on Fredericksburg.Today are recurrent features on specific topics or by regular contributors.  Guest writers present their own point-of-view and may not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Fredericksburg.Today.

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