I spend a lot of time at my seminars and workshops, on the phone and via email discussing the subject of homework organization. Actually, I spend a lot of time listening to parents complain that their children’s homework disorganization is driving everybody crazy!
Many students have such a hard time getting it together that by the time they finally sit down to do their homework, they are exhausted. No wonder they don’t want to do it! Getting organized will help alleviate exhaustion, bad attitudes, procrastination and rebelliousness.
Homework organization just makes life easier for everyone.
These are the homework organization tips that I use as a student, teacher and parent. Print this list and read it with your children. Then, post it on the fridge and refer to it often so that everybody (parents, kids, babysitters, grandparents) will be on the same organized page.
- Write down every, single homework assignment in one place. I strongly recommend using a bound or wire notebook- definitely NOT a loose leaf binder. I don’t care how careful you are, pages will fall out, and then what? You won’t know what to do nor when to do it! A plain notebook is fine, but a datebook or calendar is the best. Some schools even provide these to students. Use it.
- Write down homework assignments as you get them. This is mostly for older students that change classes and teachers, but it is a good habit for everyone. If the teacher says, “Oh, tonight I want you to read Chapter 4,” write that down in your notebook.
- Write down every, single due date for a project or paper- even if you have a handout or syllabus. Handouts disappear (I think they hang out with loose socks), but you will still know what to do and when to do it if you have everything written down in your homework notebook.
- Keep ALL of the day’s homework assignments together in one place. Don’t have a special place or page for math, another for writing, etc. You want to see everything in one spot.
- Check your homework notebook Three (3) Times A Day: Before you leave school (or each class), double check to make certain that you have everything (books, paper, materials, etc.) that you will need later.
- Before you start doing your homework, look at your notebook and make sure that you are doing the right assignment, the right page, etc.
- Before you put everything away, take one more quick look. Did you do everything? Good!
- Make a decision about where you will put your completed homework: into a binder pocket, a special homework folder, etc. You may decide to have a color-coded folder for each class. If you choose to use folders, I strongly recommend using 3-hole punched folders and keeping them together in a 3-ring binder. Whatever you choose, stick to it! Don’t put your homework in your a binder today, a folder tomorrow… And, never, ever fold your homework into a book or throw it loose into your backpack! Shudder!
- Use your Magic Homework Box. You do have one, don’t you? The Magic Homework Box is a box with all of the homework supplies and materials a student needs on a regular basis. These supplies only come out of the Magic Homework Box during homework time, so you always have what you need. Now, that’s magic!
- Clean up as soon as you are finished with your homework. Now, not later! Put completed pages in your homework folder, then put the folder and homework notebook in your backpack. Not only will mornings will be less crazy, you won’t have to sit in class knowing that you did your homework and forgot it at home (doh!). Don’t forget to put away the dictionary and any other books you may have used.
- Remember to put everything back into your Magic Homework Box. In my house, homework is not “done” until everything is cleaned up and put away.
- Keep your backpack organized. Throw away all of those candy wrappers and random pieces of paper. Keep one area or pocket filled with a few items (pencils, a sharpener, maybe a calculator) so that you can do your homework anywhere- maybe even before you get home! Remove any graded test, project, report or paper that your teacher has taken the time to return to you. Why? You might need it to study for a test, for a portfolio or for a project. You can throw everything away at the end of the semester or the school year, but until then put each item in its own subject file, but NOT in the homework folder. Remember, homework folders are ONLY for completed homework that is ready to be turned in!
- Don’t give up! They say it takes 21 days to form a good habit. If you forget to do something on this list, don’t stop trying. Hey, maybe if you remember to write down all of your homework or clean up for 21 days in a row, your mom or dad will do something extra nice for you! (Parents, that was a hint!)
A Note to Parents about Homework Organization
Please remember that your job is to give your children organizational tools and show them how to use them. Your job is NOT to organize your child’s homework! So, in the beginning, you might check your son’s homework notebook to make sure that he is writing down all of his assignments in one place, but you would never dream of calling the teacher and checking. You might watch as your daughter copies the science project due dates into her homework notebook; you will not do it for her.
Yes, I know that it is hard to let go- I’ve been there! But, we want our children to be organized and independent learners, right?
You can do it!
(For more information about recommended homework organization products and The Magic Homework Box, please see site information below.)