I set only one resolution this year, with my kids in mind : help them to manage their school study independently, now that they have all progressed to the upper primary school level. So the first thing we discussed before the start of the school term was: how to be a better organized student.
The discussion about being an organized student started out from a shopping trip for school supplies back in mid December, and went something like this:
“Mom, I think I need a new file for school papers. My clear folder is falling apart!”
“That’s because you keep adding stuffs in, without clearing out those outdated papers.”
“But I don’t have time!”
“Mom, I need a bigger pencil case, the old one is too small.”
“You have been stuffing your pencil case with way too many items. Bring only the essential ones, you don’t need 2 green pens when you only write in blue. Repack and tell me if the pencil case is still too small.”
“Mom, this diary planner looks pretty, can I have two? One for school, one for home?”
“Why two? One should suffice. Why need to buy a planner? You have your school’s communication book(*) that you don’t even go through! You never tell me what you write inside. I have been going through it on my own for the past few years. Next year, you will update me what’s in your communication book. Otherwise, I won’t check it for you.”
(*) Sort of a weekly diary that the school prints for students to keep tab of their school schedules
This went on for a few more aisles, then the three of us came down to an agreement to go through our schedules and study/chore system together first, before deciding if we will need to get that file, pencil case, or a new planner.
Here are some pointers that I have come across and adopted to help my children stay organized for school.
Create a Specific Study Area
+ Dedicate a permanent study area that has adequate lighting, comfortable for writing, and free from distraction.
+ This will also be the spot that we use each day to meet and discuss items needed for the next day, or any school related issues/events.
+ The study desk should be free from clutter. No storybooks, no hand phones, no computer etc…
+ Necessary supplies such as pens and papers, reference guides, dictionary, to be within reach.
+ Clear up the study area every day.
A Day and Night Routine.
I think a mad rush hour in the morning will totally wreck my mood for the rest of the day. If a routine helps, so be it.
+ Morning (Example) : Wake up, make the bed, brush teeth, dress up, eat breakfast, refill water tumbler, wear shoes, bring wallet, carry school bag and leave home.
+ Night (Example) : Brush teeth, check uniform, check homework is complete, check if there is anything special to bring to school the next day, pack school bag, go to bed.
Daily Bag Checking/Packing
I noticed that for some nights that I skip checking, the kids’ bags will turn out heavier cos they will bring EVERYTHING to school. I have made it compulsory to go through their bags everyday, on their own, of course.
+ Print out an extra school timetable and place it at the part of the house where they put their bags. This organized entry idea is so drooling. Get the children to pack the bags every day as part of the night routine according to their timetable.
+ Have a folder (make sure it’s lightweight) in the bag with a few compartments for different subjects, and one specially for school announcements and forms to sign. Get the kid to go through this compartment daily to make sure I get updated.
+ It might also be a good idea to, on a weekly basis, go through the bag and files together to get rid of any outdated assignment papers, school announcement, paper scraps, left over snacks(Yikes!) etc.
Because I leave it to them to manage their after-school time, it is equally important for them to know what extra assignments/tasks I have for them, such as our regular read-aloud sessions, test paper practices, etc. To put it from their point of view, like what my girls told me: “Look Ma, we need to know how much time is left for us to play”, well said. “I will make a check list for you” was my solution to grant them their well-earned play time, whatever that is remain of each day.
I have been ticking on their checklists on a daily basis (the kids won’t enjoy seeing a whole week’s supply of test papers to do!), and place it on their study desk before they return home from school, along the relevant test papers/books that they are supposed to work on. When they have completed that task, they can cover my tick-mark with a reward sticker. That will probably keep them going. Fun eh?
Of course, the litmus test is the term assessment in March. Yup, the CA1 dates are already out.
// Self Study Checklist download link here.
// I have intentionally left Sunday free for family activities, so no study plan on that day. 🙂 That should motivate my kids to work harder for the rest of the week. Yes? No?
// In the end, I got them new folders to replace their old clear folders and they received Smiggle pencil cases for Xmas. And nope, no planners, mummy prefers printing this, or this out. Sharing is another option. 🙂
P.S. Here are some articles that I have found useful about motivating kids in their studies, mostly stuffs we probably already read somewhere else before, but once a while (like now, start of the new year), reinforcing won’t hurt:
01. 10 ways to motivate your child to do better in school
02. Managing school projects (without doing them yourself!)
03. 10 ways to motivate your child to learn
04. Help your child get organized
05. The key to smarter kids : talk to them
06. Creating a good environment for study at home