The middle-school years can be overwhelming on the heels of the peaceful confines of elementary school. Middle school is a new world of semi-independence and faster-paced learning stretched across a slew of assignments and projects in a handful of classes. This new experience may leave the unorganized student's head spinning, but becoming organized can take little time with big results that will get a student on the right path.
A middle-school student should not attempt to memorize assignments or information as this will curb authentic learning and become overwhelming. Instead of trying to remember his daily assignments, have him record homework assignments and other class-related tasks in a planner. He should record the name of the assignment or task on the day it is assigned. Additionally, he should include its due date and its worth in points. Encourage him to spend a few moments each day working on upcoming assignments so that he won't have to rush to complete them. At the end of the school day, the student should glance over his planner and take home the necessary materials needed to complete assignments.
Clean Out Backpack, Locker, Notebooks
Assist your student by making a weekly date to help him clean out his backpack and notebooks. Put any gym clothes from the week into the washer, even if he insists they're clean. If you find bad grades tucked away, save that discussion for another time so that you can remain focused on organization. If he uses a locker, buy and install a locker shelf that will help keep him organized and all of his books and materials accounted for. Encourage your student to clean out his locker periodically.
Arrange Materials in One Place
Some students experience class changes and multiple teachers for the first time in middle school. Such an experience can prove daunting for this age group, especially for the student who is naturally unorganized. To keep him focused and organized, place notebooks and folders into a large three-ring binder or accordion-style folder. Label tabs for each class and place papers securely behind each tab. Once you student no longer needs a paper, have him discard it when applicable. Other papers should be filed away in the notebook until the end of the grading period or placed in a filing cabinet for future reference.
Develop a Schedule
Maintain a routine to keep your middle-school student on task. Schools follow schedules, and homes should as well. Don't schedule every minute of your student's day, since down time is necessary for busy students. Keep times consistent for meals, homework and bedtime so your child learns to organize his study times and free time. Scheduling allows him to establish a balance between home and school, a necessary skill he will need long after he leaves middle school.
Some students struggle with organizational skills due to a physiological issue, such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Children with ADD/ADHD will exhibit problems with organization across many realms -- at home, in school and in social situations. If you notice a pattern in which your student is consistently struggling to focus or to maintain order and organization in his world, and you suspect that the problem moves beyond simply getting organized, talk to your pediatrician.