Helping with Organizational Skills
You should also work at home to help your child develop stronger organizational skills — an area often missed at school. Provide your child with a planner than he can use to track assignments; ask the teacher to check his planner each day or week to make sure that he has everything correctly noted. If the teacher is unwilling to help your child this way, help your child find a classroom buddy who can help track the homework — pick a child who is reliable, has good attendance and grades, and encourage your child to regularly check with his buddy to make sure he is on track. If your child is embarrassed to ask or has a hard time making friends, consider hiring the other child to be your child's “secretary” — for a few dollars a week you may gain a trusted ally for your own child.
Your child may find an electronic diary or PDA more to his liking. You may be able to save money by buying a used model. Your child doesn't need a device with all the latest features — he just needs something that allows him to keep track of his work.
Help your child keep organized at home as well. Use a huge wall calendar in a prominent place in your home, such as the kitchen or dining area, to track appointments and events, including homework deadlines and reminders. Create a filing system using colored folders or binders to keep track of your child's work; keep this near his regular study area, and help him learn to keep his papers filed in the appropriate “to do” or subject folder, rather than left loose in his backpack or bedroom.
Also encourage your child to keep graded papers that have been returned to him in a file or folder for each subject, so he can review the papers later when preparing for exams. Sometimes teachers make mistakes and fail to record grades from completed work; when this happens, they often will not believe the protestations of a child who claims to have turned in work when there has been a history of missed assignments.
Use incentives at home to help keep your child on track, filling the gap where he may be denied privileges at school. Set more reasonable and smaller, short-term goals for your child. Organizational skills are partly a matter of habit, and habits must be practiced repeatedly over time before they become ingrained.