Getting Organized for Back to School: High School

Your high schooler might act like a pro at this getting ready for the school year thing, but are they really ready? Learn how you can help them get organized.

Your high schooler might act like a pro at this "getting ready for the school" year thing, but are they really ready? Being truly organized doesn't just mean a trip to the office supply store, though thats often a big part of it!

Here's how to get your high schooler off to a good start:

1. Electronics

Computer folders are just as susceptible to clutter as paper folders, so organizing digital files should be an ongoing activity. Having too many things on your desktop makes it hard to find what you are looking for, and slows down your work flow.

At the beginning of the year, suggest to your teen that she make folders for each subject, and even sub-folders like projects, homework, or conjugations. They can also store everything online through Google Drive or Dropbox, which also allows you to create folders to optimize organization.

2. Note-taking

Note-taking is an important part of high school. Whether your teen takes notes on paper, a laptop, or a tablet, you want to make sure that your high schooler has enough loose-leaf paper or battery power to do so. Try developing a system, will the iPad be charged every day as soon as she gets home? Will you replenish the loose-leaf every Thursday at 5pm? Make it a part of your routine, and your student wont have any excuses to not take notes!

3. Preparing for life after graduation

Allow time for activities that are not directly school-related. Whether your student is studying for their SATs, researching internship opportunities, or working on their common application, these things require time and energy. Try to develop a routine for when your child will do this, and be as specific as possible. Anything from a few minutes each day right after dinner to every two weeks on Thursdays at 6pm could be effective. Begin by finding any potential deadlines, then plan backwards from there. Always overestimate how long something will take, so you and your child aren't left stressed at the last-minute!

4. Learning from yourself and planning ahead

You can teach an old dog new tricks, if the new trick will save the dog plenty of time or make studying easier. Take a moment to discuss your child's study and work habits. This may require some bribing, but the payoffs will be immense!

Talk to your teen about subjects that they did not enjoy or did not do well in during previous years. Then, brainstorm ways to make this years classes more enjoyable, and make a specific plan. Does it mean studying for shorter periods of time instead of cramming? Do they prefer to type their homework instead of writing it out by hand? Do they need a physics tutor? Vowing to adopt better study habits is a lot easier said than done, so take action! Maybe set an alarm for 5pm every day to signal the start of her study time, and set another alarm to know when her time is up.

Ask other parents or educators on how to break poor habits or introduce new, better habits. Generating goals is another a great way to motivate students and keep them focused on positive outcomes, instead of potentially boring homework.

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