Notes on Getting Teen Students Better Organized

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By Dr. Emily Levy As students progress through school, their organizational demands increase rapidly. They are required to complete lengthier assignments, take detailed notes, study for exams and transport more materials. For many students, these organizational demands can be daunting, and they often become lost and utterly disorganized in this process. Most students lack a system for consistently organizing all of their papers, notes, handouts and tests. By learning and implementing the three-tier organizational system below, students will become much more organized and systematic with all of the loose papers that come their way. So how does it work? The three-tier notebook organization system is composed of the following three parts: a working notebook, reserve notebook a and long-term filing drawer. The Working Notebook. This is the notebook that should be taken to school on a regular basis. It can be set up in the form of one three-ring binder with separate tabs for each class or in the form of one color-coded spiral notebook (for taking notes) and one folder (for handouts and homework) for each class. What is most important about the working notebook, however, is that it only contains papers that your child absolutely needs to be carrying with him to school. One day per week (you should help your child choose this day and have him write it down directly in his assignment book each week) will be designated as his clean-out-my-working-notebook-day. On this day, he will clean out all the papers that he no longer needs to take to school with him and file them in his reserve notebook. The Reserve Notebook. The reserve notebook should actually take the form of a large, multisection accordion folder. For each class, there will be three sections in the accordion folder: one for homework, one for class notes and one for tests or quizzes. For example, for math, your child would have sections labeled "math homework," "math class notes" and "math tests/quizzes." He would have similar sections for English, science, social studies, and all other classes. Remember that the working notebook should be cleaned out and transferred to the reserve notebook on a weekly basis. The Long-Term Filing Drawer. At the end of the semester or school year, if your child has written a stellar essay, completed a notable project or scored sky-high on a particular exam, you may want to save this work for the long-run. This information should be placed into a filing drawer for long-term safekeeping (you should be in charge of this drawer). You might want to help your child set up this system and encourage him to maintain it on a regular basis. Within weeks you'll notice that your child is more organized, structured, and systematic in his approach to managing his loose papers and his overall workload. Dr. Emily Levy is the founder and director of EBL Coaching ( which offers tutoring and organizational coaching.

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