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Everyone struggles with homework sometimes, but if getting your homework done has become a chronic issue for you, then you may need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve written this article all about how to do homework. Once you’re finished reading it, you’ll know how to do homework (and have tons of new ways to motivate yourself to do homework)! 

We’ve broken this article down into a few major sections. You’ll find: 

  • A diagnostic test to help you figure out why you’re struggling with homework
  • A discussion of the four major homework problems students face, along with expert tips for addressing them 
  • A bonus section with tips for how to do homework fast

By the end of this article, you’ll be prepared to tackle whatever homework assignments your teachers throw at you . 

So let’s get started! 

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How to Do Homework: Figure Out Your Struggles 

Sometimes it feels like everything is standing between you and getting your homework done. But the truth is, most people only have one or two major roadblocks that are keeping them from getting their homework done well and on time. 

The best way to figure out how to get motivated to do homework starts with pinpointing the issues that are affecting your ability to get your assignments done. That’s why we’ve developed a short quiz to help you identify the areas where you’re struggling. 

Take the quiz below and record your answers on your phone or on a scrap piece of paper. Keep in mind there are no wrong answers! 

1. You’ve just been assigned an essay in your English class that’s due at the end of the week. What’s the first thing you do?

A. Keep it in mind, even though you won’t start it until the day before it’s due  B. Open up your planner. You’ve got to figure out when you’ll write your paper since you have band practice, a speech tournament, and your little sister’s dance recital this week, too.  C. Groan out loud. Another essay? You could barely get yourself to write the last one!  D. Start thinking about your essay topic, which makes you think about your art project that’s due the same day, which reminds you that your favorite artist might have just posted to Instagram...so you better check your feed right now. 

2. Your mom asked you to pick up your room before she gets home from work. You’ve just gotten home from school. You decide you’ll tackle your chores: 

A. Five minutes before your mom walks through the front door. As long as it gets done, who cares when you start?  B. As soon as you get home from your shift at the local grocery store.  C. After you give yourself a 15-minute pep talk about how you need to get to work.  D. You won’t get it done. Between texts from your friends, trying to watch your favorite Netflix show, and playing with your dog, you just lost track of time! 

3. You’ve signed up to wash dogs at the Humane Society to help earn money for your senior class trip. You: 

A. Show up ten minutes late. You put off leaving your house until the last minute, then got stuck in unexpected traffic on the way to the shelter.  B. Have to call and cancel at the last minute. You forgot you’d already agreed to babysit your cousin and bake cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale.  C. Actually arrive fifteen minutes early with extra brushes and bandanas you picked up at the store. You’re passionate about animals, so you’re excited to help out! D. Show up on time, but only get three dogs washed. You couldn’t help it: you just kept getting distracted by how cute they were!

4. You have an hour of downtime, so you decide you’re going to watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show. You: 

A. Scroll through your social media feeds for twenty minutes before hitting play, which means you’re not able to finish the whole episode. Ugh! You really wanted to see who was sent home!  B. Watch fifteen minutes until you remember you’re supposed to pick up your sister from band practice before heading to your part-time job. No GBBO for you!  C. You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you’ve got SAT studying to do. It’s just more fun to watch people make scones.  D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you’re reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time.

5. Your teacher asks you to stay after class because you’ve missed turning in two homework assignments in a row. When she asks you what’s wrong, you say: 

A. You planned to do your assignments during lunch, but you ran out of time. You decided it would be better to turn in nothing at all than submit unfinished work.  B. You really wanted to get the assignments done, but between your extracurriculars, family commitments, and your part-time job, your homework fell through the cracks.  C. You have a hard time psyching yourself to tackle the assignments. You just can’t seem to find the motivation to work on them once you get home.  D. You tried to do them, but you had a hard time focusing. By the time you realized you hadn’t gotten anything done, it was already time to turn them in. 

Like we said earlier, there are no right or wrong answers to this quiz (though your results will be better if you answered as honestly as possible). Here’s how your answers break down: 

  • If your answers were mostly As, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is procrastination. 
  • If your answers were mostly Bs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is time management. 
  • If your answers were mostly Cs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is motivation. 
  • If your answers were mostly Ds, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is getting distracted. 

Now that you’ve identified why you’re having a hard time getting your homework done, we can help you figure out how to fix it! Scroll down to find your core problem area to learn more about how you can start to address it. 

And one more thing: you’re really struggling with homework, it’s a good idea to read through every section below. You may find some additional tips that will help make homework less intimidating. 

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How to Do Homework When You’re a Procrastinator  

Merriam Webster defines “procrastinate” as “to put off intentionally and habitually.” In other words, procrastination is when you choose to do something at the last minute on a regular basis. If you’ve ever found yourself pulling an all-nighter, trying to finish an assignment between periods, or sprinting to turn in a paper minutes before a deadline, you’ve experienced the effects of procrastination. 

If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you’re in good company. In fact, one study found that 70% to 95% of undergraduate students procrastinate when it comes to doing their homework. Unfortunately, procrastination can negatively impact your grades. Researchers have found that procrastination can lower your grade on an assignment by as much as five points ...which might not sound serious until you realize that can mean the difference between a B- and a C+. 

Procrastination can also negatively affect your health by increasing your stress levels , which can lead to other health conditions like insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even heart conditions. Getting a handle on procrastination can not only improve your grades, it can make you feel better, too! 

The big thing to understand about procrastination is that it’s not the result of laziness. Laziness is defined as being “disinclined to activity or exertion.” In other words, being lazy is all about doing nothing. But a s this Psychology Today article explains , procrastinators don’t put things off because they don’t want to work. Instead, procrastinators tend to postpone tasks they don’t want to do in favor of tasks that they perceive as either more important or more fun. Put another way, procrastinators want to do things...as long as it’s not their homework! 

3 Tips f or Conquering Procrastination 

Because putting off doing homework is a common problem, there are lots of good tactics for addressing procrastination. Keep reading for our three expert tips that will get your homework habits back on track in no time. 

#1: Create a Reward System

Like we mentioned earlier, procrastination happens when you prioritize other activities over getting your homework done. Many times, this happens because homework...well, just isn’t enjoyable. But you can add some fun back into the process by rewarding yourself for getting your work done. 

Here’s what we mean: let’s say you decide that every time you get your homework done before the day it’s due, you’ll give yourself a point. For every five points you earn, you’ll treat yourself to your favorite dessert: a chocolate cupcake! Now you have an extra (delicious!) incentive to motivate you to leave procrastination in the dust. 

If you’re not into cupcakes, don’t worry. Your reward can be anything that motivates you . Maybe it’s hanging out with your best friend or an extra ten minutes of video game time. As long as you’re choosing something that makes homework worth doing, you’ll be successful. 

#2: Have a Homework Accountability Partner 

If you’re having trouble getting yourself to start your homework ahead of time, it may be a good idea to call in reinforcements . Find a friend or classmate you can trust and explain to them that you’re trying to change your homework habits. Ask them if they’d be willing to text you to make sure you’re doing your homework and check in with you once a week to see if you’re meeting your anti-procrastination goals. 

Sharing your goals can make them feel more real, and an accountability partner can help hold you responsible for your decisions. For example, let’s say you’re tempted to put off your science lab write-up until the morning before it’s due. But you know that your accountability partner is going to text you about it tomorrow...and you don’t want to fess up that you haven’t started your assignment. A homework accountability partner can give you the extra support and incentive you need to keep your homework habits on track. 

#3: Create Your Own Due Dates 

If you’re a life-long procrastinator, you might find that changing the habit is harder than you expected. In that case, you might try using procrastination to your advantage! If you just can’t seem to stop doing your work at the last minute, try setting your own due dates for assignments that range from a day to a week before the assignment is actually due. 

Here’s what we mean. Let’s say you have a math worksheet that’s been assigned on Tuesday and is due on Friday. In your planner, you can write down the due date as Thursday instead. You may still put off your homework assignment until the last minute...but in this case, the “last minute” is a day before the assignment’s real due date . This little hack can trick your procrastination-addicted brain into planning ahead! 

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If you feel like Kevin Hart in this meme, then our tips for doing homework when you're busy are for you. 

How to Do Homework When You’re too Busy

If you’re aiming to go to a top-tier college , you’re going to have a full plate. Because college admissions is getting more competitive, it’s important that you’re maintaining your grades , studying hard for your standardized tests , and participating in extracurriculars so your application stands out. A packed schedule can get even more hectic once you add family obligations or a part-time job to the mix. 

If you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions at once, you’re not alone. Recent research has found that stress—and more severe stress-related conditions like anxiety and depression— are a major problem for high school students . In fact, one study from the American Psychological Association found that during the school year, students’ stress levels are higher than those of the adults around them. 

For students, homework is a major contributor to their overall stress levels . Many high schoolers have multiple hours of homework every night , and figuring out how to fit it into an already-packed schedule can seem impossible. 

3 Tips for Fitting Homework Into Your Busy Schedule

While it might feel like you have literally no time left in your schedule, there are still ways to make sure you’re able to get your homework done and meet your other commitments. Here are our expert homework tips for even the busiest of students. 

#1: Make a Prioritized To-Do List 

You probably already have a to-do list to keep yourself on track. The next step is to prioritize the items on your to-do list so you can see what items need your attention right away. 

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of each day, sit down and make a list of all the items you need to get done before you go to bed. This includes your homework, but it should also take into account any practices, chores, events, or job shifts you may have. Once you get everything listed out, it’s time to prioritize them using the labels A, B, and C. Here’s what those labels mean:

  • A Tasks : tasks that have to get done—like showing up at work or turning in an assignment—get an A. 
  • B Tasks : these are tasks that you would like to get done by the end of the day but aren’t as time sensitive. For example, studying for a test you have next week could be a B-level task. It’s still important, but it doesn’t have to be done right away. 
  • C Tasks: these are tasks that aren’t very important and/or have no real consequences if you don’t get them done immediately. For instance, if you’re hoping to clean out your closet but it’s not an assigned chore from your parents, you could label that to-do item with a C. 

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you visualize which items need your immediate attention, and which items you can leave for later. A prioritized to-do list ensures that you’re spending your time efficiently and effectively, which helps you make room in your schedule for homework. So even though you might really want to start making decorations for Homecoming (a B task), you’ll know that finishing your reading log (an A task) is more important. 

#2: Use a Planner With Time Labels 

Your planner is probably packed with notes, events, and assignments already. (And if you’re not using a planner, it’s time to start!) But planners can do more for you than just remind you when an assignment is due. If you’re using a planner with time labels, it can help you visualize how you need to spend your day.

A planner with time labels breaks your day down into chunks, and you assign tasks to each chunk of time. For example, you can make a note of your class schedule with assignments, block out time to study, and make sure you know when you need to be at practice. Once you know which tasks take priority, you can add them to any empty spaces in your day. 

Planning out how you spend your time not only helps you use it wisely, it can help you feel less overwhelmed, too . We’re big fans of planners that include a task list ( like this one ) or have room for notes ( like this one ). 

#3: Set Reminders on Your Phone 

If you need a little extra nudge to make sure you’re getting your homework done on time, it’s a good idea to set some reminders on your phone. You don’t need a fancy app, either. You can use your alarm app to have it go off at specific times throughout the day to remind you to do your homework. This works especially well if you have a set homework time scheduled. So if you’ve decided you’re doing homework at 6:00 pm, you can set an alarm to remind you to bust out your books and get to work. 

If you use your phone as your planner, you may have the option to add alerts, emails, or notifications to scheduled events . Many calendar apps, including the one that comes with your phone, have built-in reminders that you can customize to meet your needs. So if you block off time to do your homework from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, you can set a reminder that will pop up on your phone when it’s time to get started. 

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This dog isn't judging your lack of motivation...but your teacher might. Keep reading for tips to help you motivate yourself to do your homework.

How to Do Homework When You’re Unmotivated 

At first glance, it may seem like procrastination and being unmotivated are the same thing. After all, both of these issues usually result in you putting off your homework until the very last minute. 

But there’s one key difference: many procrastinators are working, they’re just prioritizing work differently. They know they’re going to start their homework...they’re just going to do it later. 

Conversely, people who are unmotivated to do homework just can’t find the willpower to tackle their assignments. Procrastinators know they’ll at least attempt the homework at the last minute, whereas people who are unmotivated struggle with convincing themselves to do it at a ll. For procrastinators, the stress comes from the inevitable time crunch. For unmotivated people, the stress comes from trying to convince themselves to do something they don’t want to do in the first place. 

Here are some common reasons students are unmotivated in doing homework : 

  • Assignments are too easy, too hard, or seemingly pointless 
  • Students aren’t interested in (or passionate about) the subject matter
  • Students are intimidated by the work and/or feels like they don’t understand the assignment 
  • Homework isn’t fun, and students would rather spend their time on things that they enjoy 

To sum it up: people who lack motivation to do their homework are more likely to not do it at all, or to spend more time worrying about doing their homework than...well, actually doing it.

3 Tips for How to Get Motivated to Do Homework

The key to getting homework done when you’re unmotivated is to figure out what does motivate you, then apply those things to homework. It sounds tricky...but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it! Here are our three expert tips for motivating yourself to do your homework. 

#1: Use Incremental Incentives

When you’re not motivated, it’s important to give yourself small rewards to stay focused on finishing the task at hand. The trick is to keep the incentives small and to reward yourself often. For example, maybe you’re reading a good book in your free time. For every ten minutes you spend on your homework, you get to read five pages of your book. Like we mentioned earlier, make sure you’re choosing a reward that works for you! 

So why does this technique work? Using small rewards more often allows you to experience small wins for getting your work done. Every time you make it to one of your tiny reward points, you get to celebrate your success, which gives your brain a boost of dopamine . Dopamine helps you stay motivated and also creates a feeling of satisfaction when you complete your homework !  

#2: Form a Homework Group 

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, it’s okay to turn to others for support. Creating a homework group can help with this. Bring together a group of your friends or classmates, and pick one time a week where you meet and work on homework together. You don’t have to be in the same class, or even taking the same subjects— the goal is to encourage one another to start (and finish!) your assignments. 

Another added benefit of a homework group is that you can help one another if you’re struggling to understand the material covered in your classes. This is especially helpful if your lack of motivation comes from being intimidated by your assignments. Asking your friends for help may feel less scary than talking to your teacher...and once you get a handle on the material, your homework may become less frightening, too. 

#3: Change Up Your Environment 

If you find that you’re totally unmotivated, it may help if you find a new place to do your homework. For example, if you’ve been struggling to get your homework done at home, try spending an extra hour in the library after school instead. The change of scenery can limit your distractions and give you the energy you need to get your work done. 

If you’re stuck doing homework at home, you can still use this tip. For instance, maybe you’ve always done your homework sitting on your bed. Try relocating somewhere else, like your kitchen table, for a few weeks. You may find that setting up a new “homework spot” in your house gives you a motivational lift and helps you get your work done. 

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Social media can be a huge problem when it comes to doing homework. We have advice for helping you unplug and regain focus.

How to Do Homework When You’re Easily Distracted

We live in an always-on world, and there are tons of things clamoring for our attention. From friends and family to pop culture and social media, it seems like there’s always something (or someone!) distracting us from the things we need to do.

The 24/7 world we live in has affected our ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time. Research has shown that over the past decade, an average person’s attention span has gone from 12 seconds to eight seconds . And when we do lose focus, i t takes people a long time to get back on task . One study found that it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back to work once we’ve been distracte d. No wonder it can take hours to get your homework done! 

3 Tips to Improve Your Focus

If you have a hard time focusing when you’re doing your homework, it’s a good idea to try and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Here are three expert tips for blocking out the noise so you can focus on getting your homework done. 

#1: Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Pick a place where you’ll do your homework every day, and make it as distraction-free as possible. Try to find a location where there won’t be tons of noise, and limit your access to screens while you’re doing your homework. Put together a focus-oriented playlist (or choose one on your favorite streaming service), and put your headphones on while you work. 

You may find that other people, like your friends and family, are your biggest distraction. If that’s the case, try setting up some homework boundaries. Let them know when you’ll be working on homework every day, and ask them if they’ll help you keep a quiet environment. They’ll be happy to lend a hand! 

#2: Limit Your Access to Technology 

We know, we know...this tip isn’t fun, but it does work. For homework that doesn’t require a computer, like handouts or worksheets, it’s best to put all your technology away . Turn off your television, put your phone and laptop in your backpack, and silence notifications on any wearable tech you may be sporting. If you listen to music while you work, that’s fine...but make sure you have a playlist set up so you’re not shuffling through songs once you get started on your homework. 

If your homework requires your laptop or tablet, it can be harder to limit your access to distractions. But it’s not impossible! T here are apps you can download that will block certain websites while you’re working so that you’re not tempted to scroll through Twitter or check your Facebook feed. Silence notifications and text messages on your computer, and don’t open your email account unless you absolutely have to. And if you don’t need access to the internet to complete your assignments, turn off your WiFi. Cutting out the online chatter is a great way to make sure you’re getting your homework done. 

#3: Set a Timer (the Pomodoro Technique)

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique ? It’s a productivity hack that uses a timer to help you focus!

Here’s how it works: first, set a timer for 25 minutes. This is going to be your work time. During this 25 minutes, all you can do is work on whatever homework assignment you have in front of you. No email, no text messaging, no phone calls—just homework. When that timer goes off, y ou get to take a 5 minute break. Every time you go through one of these cycles, it’s called a “pomodoro.” For every four pomodoros you complete, you can take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. 

The pomodoro technique works through a combination of boundary setting and rewards. First, it gives you a finite amount of time to focus, so you know that you only have to work really hard for 25 minutes. Once you’ve done that, you’re rewarded with a short break where you can do whatever you want. Additionally, tracking how many pomodoros you complete can help you see how long you’re really working on your homework. (Once you start using our focus tips, you may find it doesn’t take as long as you thought!) 

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Two Bonus Tips for How to Do Homework Fast 

Even if you’re doing everything right, there will be times when you just need to get your homework done as fast as possible. (Why do teachers always have projects due in the same week? The world may never know.) 

The problem with speeding through homework is that it’s easy to make mistakes. While turning in an assignment is always better than not submitting anything at all, you want to make sure that you’re not compromising quality for speed. Simply put, the goal is to get your homework done quickly and still make a good grade on the assignment! 

Here are our two bonus tips for getting a decent grade on your homework assignments , even when you’re in a time crunch. 

#1: Do the Easy Parts First 

This is especially true if you’re working on a handout with multiple questions. Before you start working on the assignment, read through all the questions and problems. As you do, make a mark beside the questions you think are “easy” to answer . 

Once you’ve finished going through the whole assignment, you can answer these questions first. Getting the easy questions out of the way as quickly as possible lets you spend more time on the trickier portions of your homework, which will maximize your assignment grade. 

(Quick note: this is also a good strategy to use on timed assignments and tests, like the SAT and the ACT !) 

#2: Pay Attention in Class 

Homework gets a lot easier when you’re actively learning the material. Teachers aren’t giving you homework because they’re mean or trying to ruin your weekend... it’s because they want you to really understand the course material. Homework is designed to reinforce what you’re already learning in class so you’ll be ready to tackle harder concepts later. 

When you pay attention in class, ask questions, and take good notes, you’re absorbing the information you’ll need to succeed on your homework assignments. (You’re stuck in class anyway, so you might as well make the most of it!) Not only will paying attention in class make your homework less confusing, it will also help it go much faster, too. 

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What’s Next? 

If you’re looking to improve your productivity beyond homework, a good place to begin is with time management. After all, we only have so much time in a day...so it’s important to get the most out of it! To get you started, check out this list of the 12 best time management techniques that you can start using today.

You may have read this article because homework struggles have been affecting your GPA. Now that you’re on the path to homework success, it’s time to start being proactive about raising your grades. This article teaches you everything you need to know about raising your GPA so you can

Now you know how to get motivated to do homework...but what about your study habits? Studying is just as critical to getting good grades, and ultimately getting into a good college . We can teach you how to study bette r in high school. (We’ve also got tons of resources to help you study for your ACT and SAT exams , too!) 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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Student Homework Planner Organization Tips

July 7, 2020 by Cristy

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

We all know the positive effects organization can have on our lives. Yet, organization is not something that is innate for many and is a skill that needs to be learned.  As teachers, it is important to give our students the skills they need to move forward as successfully as possible, and something as simple as teaching them homework organization skills and offering homework tips can really impact their success and self-confidence.

Homework agendas are a tool that can really help students stay organized, but we sometimes neglect to show them how to use this tool successfully at the start of the school year. Here are a few homework organization tips that students can use within their homework agendas to stay organized this school year.

As a tip, it is beneficial to have the same homework format for all students at the start of the school year. This will help you assist them by being able to teach the specific skills all at once. After that, if you find that certain students will benefit from a daily assignment agenda instead, you can alter it later, but they will hopefully have the initial steps mastered before then.

If you’re fortunate, your school will provide homework agendas for your students. If it doesn’t, creating a quick weekly homework format using Powerpoint, then running several copies for each student, will be beneficial. After, just three-hole punch them and have them place it in a duo tang folder.

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

The first step to help students with homework organization is to show them how to properly write assignments under each subject area. Show them how to find the date and the subject area where they will be writing down their assignments. Also, teach them some shorthand and frequently used abbreviations. Shorthand writing is acceptable and quite a timesaver, but don’t assume they know what it means. Explain it to them. (For example, WS means worksheet)

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

Explain and demonstrate to students how to cross out a homework assignment once it has been completed at home. (One simple line across the assignment will do.) Most of us know the joy of crossing something off on our “To Do” list, and students are no different. Not only will this provide them a sense of accomplishment,  but it will provide them with a visual cue that it has been completed.

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

In order to lessen the likelihood of hearing, “I did it, but I left it at home,” students will need to make sure they are properly packing their things at home just like they did at school. Teach them to circle the checkmark in their agenda once the supplies have been placed inside their book bag.

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

Show them how to highlight any important upcoming events or assignments. If a big project will be due on a certain day or specific materials are to be gathered and brought to school by a certain date, show them how to highlight those specific items, so it stays in the forefront.

Homework organization does not come naturally to many students. These homework tips, that students can use in their homework planners, will teach them how to transition from one step to another, helping them with their homework organization. It also includes a FREE homework planner key.

Lastly, have them quickly find the page they will be writing on by teaching them to make a diagonal fold once the week is over. This quick tip I learned from my friend Chrissy over at Undercover Classroom . I had tried paper clips and sticky notes with my students, but at one point or another, those would get lost. This is a no fail quick way to have students find their page quickly and keeps things moving in the classroom.

It is a great practice to check the homework agendas daily the first week of school in order to make sure that the students are using the agendas as tool correctly. On the second week of school, you may want to check every other day.

I am including the Homework Planner Key here for you in case you are interested in printing it out for your students’ planners. Click on the image below to download it.

organization in homework

If you have students still struggling with their homework organization skills, you may want to move them over to a daily agenda format . This is a bit more time consuming since you have to make more copies and will need to monitor students more closely, but it is a GREAT alternative for those two or three students in your class who become overwhelmed seeing an entire week at once. I usually use this system with one or two of my students each year once I see that they are still struggling after the first quarter of the year.

Do you have any quick student organization ideas or homework tips you use with your students? If so, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to share them with me in the comment section.

You may also be interested in checking out:

organization in homework

July 8, 2020 at 9:43 pm

I have students highlight what they need to do at home in their planner.

July 9, 2020 at 6:28 am

I like this idea. This way it stands out to them. Thank you for sharing.

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Organizing Your Schoolwork

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Learning to get organized, stay focused, and get things done are must-have skills when it comes to schoolwork.

These skills can help you with just about everything in life, too. The more you practice, the better you'll get. Let these skills become go-to habits that make your life work better.

Get Organized

Organize your stuff. Everything is easier when you’re organized. You can get to work faster without wasting time looking for stuff.

Keep your assignments and class information organized by subject. Put them in binders, notebooks, or folders. If you find yourself stuffing loose papers in your bag or grabbing different notebooks for the same class, it's time to stop and reorganize!

Clean out your backpack every few days. Decide where to keep things you want to hold onto. Offload things you no longer need to carry around.

Organize your space. You need a good workspace — someplace quiet enough to focus. It's best to work at a desk or table where you can spread out your work. Have a set place for homework. That way, when you sit down, you can shift into work mode and focus more quickly.

Organize your time. Use a planner or planning app to keep track of your schoolwork:

  • Write down all your assignments and when they're due.
  • Break big projects into parts. Mark the dates when each part needs to be complete. Be sure to schedule when you'll work on each part.
  • Mark the dates you'll have tests. Then make a note of when you'll study for them. One sure way to reduce test anxiety is to prepare by studying (really!).
  • Enter other activities on your calendar. Fill in times for team practices, drama rehearsals, plans with friends, etc. This helps you plan ahead because you’ll see when things might be too busy to get all your work done. Use your planner to schedule a time to do your schoolwork on days you have other activities.

Get Focused

Avoid distractions. When you multitask, you're less focused. That means you're less likely to do well on that test. Park your devices and only check them after you finish your work.

Some people focus best when it's quiet. Others say they study best if they listen to background music. But music with lyrics can distract you. If you find yourself reading the same page over and over, it's a clue that the music is a distraction, not a help. If you need to block out other sounds, try white noise or nature sounds.

Take breaks. Taking a short break between assignments can help your mind stay fresh and focused. Get up from your desk. Move, stretch, or walk around to clear your head. Take some slow deep breaths. Then get back to your studies.

Refocus yourself. If you get distracted, guide your attention back into study mode. Resist checking your phone or device. Remind yourself that now it's time to stay on task.

Get It Done!

Get started. It’s not always easy to get started on homework. But you’ve got to get started if you want to get it done. Sure, you can think of a million other things you’d rather do. But if you procrastinate, you’re more likely to feel stressed — and less likely to do your best work.

To help yourself get started, break down homework into small tasks. Pick one small task to do first. Some people like to start with the hardest thing. Others like to start with something easy. Then do it.

Keep going. When you finish the first task, tell yourself , ‘Alright. I got this done.’ Then move on to the next task. Keep it up. Cross off each task as you do it.

Some people find it helps to set a timer for five (or 10) minutes. See how much you can get done before the timer goes off. Coach yourself to keep going for another five minutes. Don’t rush. Just try to work at a steady pace.

Finish it up. Stay focused as you do the final steps and details. Cheer yourself on — you're almost at the finish line!

Check your completed work. Put your work into the right folder or binder. Pack up your backpack for tomorrow. Now you've got it DONE.

These skills may sound simple. But they’re not always easy. If you need more tips to organize your work, stay focused, or get it done, ask a teacher, school counselor , or a parent for help.

Homework, Organization and Planning Skills (HOPS)

A website about the hops intervention.

  • About the Intervention
  • About the Developer
  • Summary of Research
  • Information about Manuals
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Training Videos
  • HOPS Intervention Checklists
  • - About the Developer
  • - Summary of Research
  • - Information about Manuals
  • - Frequently Asked Questions
  • - Training Videos
  • - HOPS Intervention Checklists

Slider Image

About the HOPS Intervention

The Homework, Organization, and Time-Management Skills (HOPS) intervention was developed by Joshua M. Langberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, with support from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The HOPS intervention teaches students organization and time-management skills and how to apply those skills to effectively complete homework and prepare for tests. HOPS intervention has been evaluated in multiple randomized trials and found to be effective for middle school students diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

organization in homework

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) published the 1st edition of HOPS intervention manual for schools in 2011 and the 2nd edition in 2022 . There is also a HOPS guide for parents published in 2014. Since the HOPS manual for schools was released, many schools across the United States and abroad have implemented HOPS for students ranging from grades 3 through 12 and for students with and without ADHD. HOPS has primarily been evaluated using a 1 to 1 service delivery model (e.g., one clinician working with one student). However, many schools implement HOPS using small group and class-wide models. HOPS can be implemented in both school and clinic settings. The 2nd edition of manual can be purchased in either print or digital versions, includes detailed information about online/computer organization and time management skills, and provides updated checklists. Importantly, the 2nd edition comes with a code where you can download the checklists in editable format from NASP.

The purpose of this website is to provide individuals interested in implementing HOPS with the resources necessary to get started. The website provides brief videos that explain HOPS and provide implementation tips. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions and information about how to receive in-person training. Both the treatment manual and the parent guide can be purchased on the NASP website .

What types of students can benefit from the HOPS intervention?

  • HOPS was developed for middle school students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because they often experience difficulties with organization and time-management. However, many students have difficulties with organization and time-management and most students can benefit from learning how to manage their materials and time efficiently. HOPS can be implemented with elementary students, once they are expected to self-manage their materials; typically around 3 rd or 4 th grade. HOPS can also be implemented with middle and high school students. Oftentimes, schools consider the HOPS intervention when students are having difficulties with homework management and completion and/or are procrastinating and not preparing adequately for tests.

What will HOPS improve?

  • As the name implies, HOPS targets organization, time-management, and planning skills, primarily surrounding homework completion and studying for tests. Studies of the HOPS show that students make improvements on all of the outcomes directly targeted by the intervention. It is important to remember that students can struggle academically and have missing assignments and low or failing grades for many reasons other than organization and time-management skills (e.g., below grade level reading or math or anxiety). Accordingly, a student might significantly improve organization and planning skills with the HOPS intervention but continue to have academic difficulties. We would not expect students to improve in aspects of functioning not specifically targeted with intervention. If after implementing HOPS organization and time-management skills improve but academic impairment remains, further assessment may be warranted.

Who can implement HOPS?

  • School counselors and school psychologists have implemented HOPS in the majority of studies where HOPS has been evaluated. However, teachers and mental health clinicians could also implement HOPS and parents can use the parent manual to apply some of the strategies on their own.

Book cover

Student Engagement pp 121–130 Cite as

The Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS) Intervention

  • Joshua M. Langberg 4 ,
  • Melissa R. Dvorsky 5 &
  • Stephen J. Molitor 6  
  • First Online: 13 March 2020

2816 Accesses

1 Citations

The HOPS intervention focuses specifically on helping students develop and implement effective systems for materials organization, planning, and time-management surrounding homework completion and test preparation. This is because homework, organization, and planning skills are important mechanisms through which students learn and engage in school (Ramdass and Zimmerman, J Adv Acad 22(2):194–218, 2011; Wang and Holcombe, Am Educ Res J 47(3):633–662, 2010). Further, effective use of these skills is strongly associated with academic achievement (Bikic et al., Clin Psychol Rev 52:108–123, 2017; Cooper et al., Rev Educ Res 76(1):1–62, 2006; DiPerna and Elliott, Sch Psychol Rev 31(3):293–297, 2002; Mega et al., J Educ Psychol 106(1):121–131, 2014; Zimmerman, Achieving academic excellence: a self-regulatory perspective. In: The pursuit of excellence through education, p. 85–110, 2002). In the research and popular literature, organization and planning skills go by many different names, which unfortunately lead to confusion about the best way for schools and practitioners to promote these abilities. Accordingly, this section begins with an attempt to define the core constructs targeted by the HOPS intervention, and how they relate to other commonly used terms. We then move on to a description of how the HOPS intervention targets these skills and provide a brief review of the evidence base for the intervention. This section concludes with future directions, focusing on the potential for the HOPS intervention to be implemented and evaluated using a tiered, response-to-intervention approach.

  • Homework Organization and Planning Skills Intervention
  • Homework intervention
  • Organization
  • Intervention
  • ADHD intervention

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Psychology Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

Joshua M. Langberg

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Amy L. Reschly

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Langberg, J.M., Dvorsky, M.R., Molitor, S.J. (2020). The Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS) Intervention. In: Reschly, A.L., Pohl, A.J., Christenson, S.L. (eds) Student Engagement. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-37285-9_7

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15 Homework Organization and Art Display Ideas

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By Becky Mansfield

Aug 18, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy .

School may be different this year, and if we’re not ready or organized, things can quickly become chaotic. Papers, homework, and artwork everywhere!    Luckily, we’ve put together some clever homework organization ideas as well as a cute homework station and ways to display your kids’ artwork.

Homework organization ideas and cool ways to display your kids' artwork

1). If you have space, a designated homework station is a lifesaver. You don’t have to worry about papers and school supplies getting scattered all throughout the house because everything is right where you and your kids need it.

2). Keep a homework box handy with the supplies your child needs to complete homework without distractions.

organization in homework

4). I love this backpack and homework center . No backpacks littering the floor, and each child has cubbies for shoes or books.  Paperwork can go in baskets up top, too! 

A bunch of items that are on display

5 ). Use a curtain wire to hang your children’s art and craft projects. Check out the vertical and horizontal pockets on her walls, too, for managing incoming papers and homework!

organization in homework

9).   You don’t have to get fancy with homework organization. One practical tip is to use magnetic clips for each child to keep their homework on the fridge . Simple, but effective. 

  • Print it out.
  • Hang it up with a clip.
  • Take it off to work on it.
  • Complete it. Submit it.  

10).  If you homeschool (or if your kids just need extra practice) individual work binders can be a huge help. Brilliant!

Parent Organization (for checking homework):

1). What’s missing from many homework stations? A parent basket! What a great way to keep up with papers that you have to hang on to for a while.

2). You’re a busy mom, so you may not have time to process those papers right away. An organizing basket works well!  Have a 2 or 3 spot hanging file: 1). “Please check”    2). “Working on it”   3). “Done” hanging caddy may be just what you need.  

3). Individual cork boards are a smart idea, too.  Process the papers right away when the kids get home from school, and homework, spelling words, etc. are pinned to the child’s corkboard. 

4). My favorite one is more of a keepsake idea.  Every year you’ll have a handful of things that you want to save for each child. Start a file storage system now with a folder for each grade .

Other Helpful Homework Ideas

Homework and Organization sheet

Categorized as: Organize your Kid’s things! , The Home

organization in homework

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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Hi Becky! Thank you for featuring the backpack and paper organizer, but that originally came from Pneumatic Addict’s blog. She did a guest post on my blog, but it originally appeared on her blog. Thanks!

Thanks for letting me know!! 🙂

What great organizational ideas. I love the printable homework sheet. That should help my son stay more organized. I am pinning it now. Thanks!

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Organizing Homework - 10 Steps for Success in any Grade!

Education is about more than just learning the rules of language and mathematics. It is more than digesting facts and data about the world around us and its history. From kindergarten through twelfth grade, school is about learning habits that will lead to a successful life. Among those skills, one of the most important is good organizational skills.

girl wearing academic cap organizing homework

A foundation of good organization skills will help children learn more effectively, retain information better, and promote higher grades all the while building transferable skills that will support success beyond their school years.

The Importance of Staying Organized in School

woman teaching students organizing homework

Good organizational habits in school will help create order so that students can focus on learning instead of stress and chaos. Organization is both physical, with filing systems and sticky notes, and mental with objectives, schedules, and priorities. You can keep your child focused on learning throughout the school year by focusing on both the physical and mental aspects of organization.

Define Clear Objectives

The first step in organizing schoolwork is to clearly define the learning objectives. The human mind is a lot like a filing cabinet. It organizes certain types of memories like data and facts categorically. By identifying the objectives of the learning program, you can effectively tell the mind where to store this information. This can make memory recall easier, leading to better retention of information and more success in learning.

Prioritize Important Activities

kids writing on blackboard organizing homework

Throughout the day, students engage in several different activities. Some of those activities like practicing spelling words or solving math problems are important tasks to achieve learning goals. Other activities like searching through lockers or notebooks for assignments are less important and possibly even wasteful. Good organizational habits will help your child spend more time on important learning activities and less time on wasteful activities that detract from learning.

Scheduling Creates Structure and Organization

woman scheduling her activities organizing homework

Structure is a set of healthy boundaries that help our brains identify what types of activities and behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate for a situation. In the classroom, structure is necessary to keep minds focused on learning . Creating a schedule of learning activities so that students know what to expect and when to expect it will ease the transition between activities and keep the momentum moving forward.

Organization Lowers Stress Levels and Promotes Learning

Neuroscientists have studied the effects of stress on the human brain and one of the most interesting things they have discovered is directly related to learning. Affective Filter is a term used by neuroscientists to describe an emotional state caused by stress in which a student is not responsive to learning or storing new information. Good organizational skills are more than just tidying up the classroom. It has a scientific purpose to promote learning by removing the disorder that creates stress.

Actionable Steps for Organizing School Work

The great thing about organization is that it is an ongoing process. If you missed the boat at the beginning of the school year or fell off track halfway through, you can always start where you are and work on improving your organization.

Plan Ahead Every Week

weekly plan of activities organizing homework

Start each school week by intentionally creating a plan of attack for all assignments or projects. You can take a bird’s eye view of the week and schedule in time to work on specific assignments or subjects so that you do not run out of time to accomplish important assignments. Planning helps eliminate the stress and poor workmanship that comes from cramming and pulling all-nighters.

Planning will help you decide which project to tackle first. If your schedule is overwhelming, try sorting out easy tasks that will take five minutes or less and doing those first. Checking off several easy items will boost your motivation to continue with the rest of the list while also trimming that list down to a more manageable size.

woman pointing out activity on planner organizing homework

Out of the remaining work on your child’s schedule, evaluate personal feelings. If there is one subject or project that is dreaded, complete that one first. Simply do not allow procrastination on certain subjects or certain projects. Procrastination breeds stress and anxiety which affects all aspects of learning.

Use Time Effectively

two women looking at a big clock organizing homework

Working hard and being productive are not necessarily the same thing. In learning, it is far more important to be effective than it is to just work hard. Modern school curricula are designed to promote effective learning by breaking subjects up into manageable periods and alternating classroom study with physical exercise and artistic stimulation.

Work on assignments in short blocks of time, not exceeding 60 minutes. Frequent breaks to rest the mind are good for learning. Breaks not only provide a mental rest from the learning subject but also help fight boredom and maintain attentiveness.

To understand more on how you use time effectively by organizing homework and others, watch this video:

Keep a stash of water and healthy snacks available during study time. By curbing hunger and quenching thirst, you can limit your child’s distractions from learning. While frequent breaks are important, being able to be completely focused during work times is much more important.

Front-load your tasks so that all of the heavy or big assignments are completed first. It is easy to lose track of time and we are generally most productive at the beginning so tackling the big things first will make sure that your child does not run out of time to complete his or her homework.

Establish a Dedicated Study Space

kid doing homework at her study place organizing homework

Choose a clean, tidy and uncluttered space to work in. Remember that physical surroundings impact mental performance. If a space is cluttered, the mind will be anxious and less able to learn. The space should be well-lit, quiet and ergonomic to limit distractions. A dining room table or at a desk in the bedroom are generally suitable workspaces. Try to avoid working on the floor or laying on a bed where your child might spend more time fidgeting to get comfortable and less time focusing on the assignments.

A study environment should emulate a test environment. Studies have shown that our minds are better able to recall information when the learning environment mirrors the testing environment. Factors like background noise from music or tv can affect how easily your brain can recall information.

One of the coolest things that happen when you use a dedicated study space is that your brain begins to associate that environment with studying. Each time that you enter your study space at the specified time each day, your brain will already be ready to start studying because that space has been associated with good study habits.

Eliminate Distractions

Any activity that does not directly support learning or that is not directly related to the assignment at hand, is a distraction. Wasting time scrolling Facebook or answering a text message might seem like a quick thing that only takes a few seconds. But each time that the phone is picked up and the learning process is interrupted, it takes additional time to refocus and get back to learning. All of the additional seconds add up to wasted time. Students who spend excessive amounts of time completing homework each night are probably guilty of wasting more time than they are working.

Stock a Study Kit with all of the Essentials

Hunting down the right tools is half the battle when doing an assignment. Keep the focus in the right area by providing a well-stocked study kit complete with basic office supplies like pens, paper, and erasers.

complete study kit organizing homework

If you want a leg up on the motivation factor, try incorporating fun or colorful school supplies. Bright colors are mentally stimulating and are readily available in a variety of supplies like post-it notes, pens, markers, and folders.

Create a Well-Organized Filing System

Another big time-waster is hunting down paperwork to complete assignments. A good filing system, particularly a visual system like this  wall storage pocket chart :  

organization in homework

or a more modest  grey wall file system  (which comes in multiple colors) will help keep study materials in easy reach.

organization in homework

Both of the above options also include free door hangers, such that you're not cluttering valuable desk real-estate, and files can conveniently hang behind your door.

Visual wall filing systems can be used to keep important papers out in plain sight and logically organized. Try using the folders to separate assignments by subject or to arrange by difficulty.

Another visual organization method is a wall chart created from multi-colored post-it notes. Large projects can be easily broken down into smaller tasks. A post-it note chart can help organize all of the pieces and parts of the project in one visual method which can help carry your motivation through the completion of the project.

Start a List of Questions

kid listing questions to ask organizing homework

Learning is hard work and to our detriment, we humans, tend to make any excuse to avoid doing hard or difficult things. All it takes is getting stuck on a question or not understanding an idea to derail an entire study session. Help your child practice diligence by teaching them to write their questions down and keep going. The hard questions can be re-visited again at the end of the lesson or another time when help is available from a teacher or parent. The important thing is that students learn to maintain control and not to quit or be distracted by difficult questions.

As the parent, teach your child to rely on their problem-solving skills first by making yourself less accessible. Instead of giving your child full access to ask questions whenever they get stuck, teach them the list method and provide a specific time when you will assist them with their study questions.

Exercise to Energize the Mind

Another common struggle during study sessions is just attentiveness. It is difficult, if not impossible, to learn new material if the mind is not fully engaged. Frequent breaks are a good first step to maintaining attentiveness. But a quick burst of physical exercise that raises the heart rate and gets blood moving can boost energy levels needed for learning. A quick brisk walk or a couple of sets of jumping jacks is all it takes. Children of all ages will benefit from a little bit of movement during study breaks, but younger children often have a lot of extra energy to burn so it makes a big difference for them.

mom exercising with son organizing homework

It is no secret that physical activity is good for your health and that its effects are cumulative so even five minutes during study breaks can add up to a whole extra workout. But what you may not know is that short bursts of physical activity can also lower stress levels which makes it easier to learn new things. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain and increases alertness and memory.

Be Your Child’s Accountability Partner

As a parent, one of the most important jobs that you have to help your child through school is to hold them accountable. Be the one to make sure that your child is using these study tips. Be the one to make sure that your child is devoting enough time to studying each day. And be the one to make sure that your child continues to follow the same habits and use the same study space throughout the entire school year.

mom helping son to solve math solution organizing homework

Accountability will not only help your child build good study habits and earn good grades. It develops strong character traits like trust and responsibility. A simple task like enforcing study rules and making sure that your child sticks to them today can translate into how successful he or she is at keeping a job or staying in a committed relationship.

Why Study Skills are Important

young man writing on his desk with books organizing homework

Good study skills are more important than just earning good grades and successfully completing grade levels. Study skills are habits that are formed young when the brain is still developing and set the tone for how an individual will perform throughout their life. New habits can always be formed, but as we grow older and become set in our ways it becomes much more difficult to break bad habits and replace them with good ones.

Builds Character and Teaches Responsibility

A child who has learned how to study effectively and maintain consistent routines will develop positive character traits that will carry them throughout their entire lives. Being able to make and keep commitments is important for any long-term, functional relationship. No matter whether it is a job or a romantic relationship, learning to stick to routines at a young age is important.

Teaches Effective Problem-Solving Skills

toddlers hand on butterfly chat organizing homework

Learning to study independently, particularly if encouraged to work independently and not rely on parents or teachers to provide answers will help the child develop essential problem-solving skills that will help him or her function in daily adult life.

Promotes a Culture of Learning

In a fast-paced, ever-changing world it is important to stay on top of what is hot and new. The most successful employees in business know this and make life-long commitments to learning. But learning isn’t easy for everyone. By teaching your child good study habits inside and outside of the classroom, you can help make sure that they develop a love of learning and always seek out opportunities to learn new skills.

Teaches Project Management Skills

Two skills that every employer wants to see in job candidates is the ability to use sound judgment to prioritize work and the ability to meet deadlines. These skills are developed at a young age, in school, through the development of good study habits. Every day teachers dole out assignments with varying degrees of difficulty and time commitments required. After a full day of classes, the average student has collected a variety of assignments that need to be completed during available study time.

To avoid spending hours and hours tirelessly working on homework, students must learn the skills needed to study effectively. The very same skills that are learned during middle school and high school to prioritize and complete assignments on time will transfer into career skills.

How an Organized Classroom Can Help

Developing good study habits are so much more important than just getting through school. They are the foundation for career skills like time management and problem-solving skills. Good study habits are also the beginning of developing good character traits like trustworthiness and responsibility. But more importantly, good study skills are just good organizational skills applied to learning inside and outside of the classroom.

organized classroom organizing homework

Staying organized in school has several benefits that help children succeed in school in the short term and in adulthood in the long term. The mental space tends to mirror the physical space so a tidy and organized classroom or study space will create a calm and focused mind for learning. In much the same way, chaos and clutter in the surroundings will create stress and anxiety in the mind that will impair learning.

Create visual organization in the classroom by using color-coded systems, charts, and labeled storage. Implementing organizational strategies in the classroom can benefit all students by creating an orderly environment. A  Wall Storage Pocket Chart  can help with organizing homework for all of the students in a class.

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Organize Homework To-Dos

Help your child keep his work in order and plan his tasks for studying success..

If you're looking for suggestions to help kids get more organized about their schoolwork, here are some ideas to try:

Set up a homework/study calendar. Look for one that has a lot of space for writing. Encourage your child to use a red pen to mark the dates of tests or due dates for important projects. Then have him use a green pen for activities leading up to the due date. For example, spelling test may be entered on Friday and the spelling homework activities leading up to the test may be entered in green.

organization in homework

 Make a home-study kit. A lot of homework time is wasted looking for pencils and paper. Having materials on hand makes being organized much easier, so put the necessary tools in place. A shoebox will do, and I recently made a model home study kit using an easy-to-put-together box from a discount store. Keep the following in your child's kit (let her help you shop for these items if she's interested):

  • paper: lined, blank, and graphing
  • pencils and pens
  • marking pens

File fix-up. Have your child set up a file folder for each of his academic subjects. He can do this with regular office-supply folders or make his own folders with construction paper. He can then label each folder and only keep important papers. For example, it is a good idea to look at old spelling tests to prepare for comprehensive tests at the end of the semester. Also, it is helpful to keep adding all the research for a paper to a folder so everything he needs will be in one place when he starts to write.

MORE: Design a Kid-Friendly Homework Space

Teach him a 5-minute focus exercise. Before your child starts her schoolwork, encourage her to take 5 minutes to focus on what she needs to do. This can take the form of writing down what she will do. For example:

1. Math problems __ 2. Look up information for report __ 3. Study spelling words __ 4. Read __

Then she can check off each task as completed. It feels great to check off items on a to-do list.

Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, teacher tips, homework help, and more resources for a successful school year.

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You'll also get 10% off your first order at the Scholastic Store Online.

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Dear Organizing Coach: The Crumpled-Up, Lost, Forgotten Homework Problem

Yes, you can help your student become organized enough to get all of his papers home each night. how this all-in-one system, designed by our organizing coach, is easy to create and easy to manage — even for children and teens with adhd..

Leslie Josel

Q: “How can I help my teenage son to get more organized? He is a gifted student but his disorganization is causing his grades to fall. His homework, notes… nothing is in place. He also realizes that this is a problem and it is affecting his self-esteem.” —Worried Mom

Q: “My 12-year-old son refuses to even try to be organized. He always has homework and important papers crumpled up in pockets in his backpack. There is a social studies project due 2 weeks ago that we just found out about.” —LivermoreMom

Q: “My middle schooler struggles with his organization of homework and assignments, which end up missing by the end of the day. He then decides to carry all of his books which then go missing. Help!” —Erika

Hi Worried Mom, LivermoreMom, and Erika:

Your question is among the most common — and commonly frustrating — for parents of children with ADHD. Over the years, I have seen so many students struggle trying to manage notebooks, folders, binders, spirals, and more. (And don’t even get me started on the terrible, unsustainable practice of hole punching!) Most students need a simple and manageable system to organize their school papers. So here are my general rules of thumb.

  • Clear is king! If your student can’t see it, it doesn’t exist! Clear, transparent folders, dividers, etc., give him a natural way to receive visual reminders of his priorities and the physical locations of his resources.
  • If it takes more than two steps… your child won’t do it. Think un-fussy and streamlined. One idea that works well for students who need to keep each subject in a separate binder is the SamSill DUO Accordion Binder All In One . Each binder comes with a loose-leaf section for taking notes AND a 7-pocket accordion file for housing homework, tests, etc. And since it is available in 10 different colors, she can easily color code all her subjects. Win Win!
  • Pair like with like. In other words, ditch the homework folder. They are dumping grounds where important assignments and papers are easily misplaced. Group materials by subject. Math homework goes in the math binder. Science lab in the science folder.
  • Simplify supplies! I can’t stress this enough. Buy multi-function items or simply limit the number of pens and pencils your student has in his desk drawer. Less stuff to manage means greater

Which is why I recommend that my students create an all-in-one “ Master Binder .”

[ Free Guide: Solving Disorganization at School ]

First, purchase a zippered binder that also contains an accordion folder. I like the ones made by  Case-It that have two sets of rings. This set-up allows your student to customize the binder in a way that works for her schedule. Think “A/B” days, morning/afternoon classes, etc.

The pull-out accordion is where all the papers, handouts, tests, etc. are kept. No hole punching required. Label each section in the accordion by subject name (English, Math, Science, etc.).

All papers will be filed behind the corresponding subject tab and the most recent papers always go in the front. Make sure to schedule weekly clean outs, as papers tend to build up quickly.

The three-ring section should be used for notes your student takes in class. Again, divide this section by subject by using clear two-sided dividers for each subject. Label one side of each folder “homework to-do” and “homework done.” This takes the guesswork out of where homework will live each night AND gives your child a visual reminder of what needs to be accomplished!

[ The Great Paper Challenge ]

Finally, papers that need to be referenced regularly should be inserted into plastic page protectors and placed in corresponding binder sections. So for example, your child’s multiplication chart should go in the math section; her English vocabulary words in English.

The central goal of a master system like this is: Help your student become organized enough to get all of his papers home each night. This all-in-one system is easy to create and easy to manage. Extra bonus? A master binder answers once and for all the question, “What do I need to get from my locker?”

Our Editors Also Recommend:

Free Download: 10 Solutions for Disorganization at School Organization Tips for Middle Schoolers The Messy Bedroom (and Backpack and Locker) Cure for Kids with ADHD

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions here!

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Keep Your Middle Schooler Organized

Helping kids develop organizational skills relieves the homework struggle.

Posted January 29, 2012

My youngest stomped into the living room last Monday and dumped his pack on the floor.

  • "How was school?"
  • "Great! I only have math homework."
  • I paused "Are you sure?"
  • "Absolutely. Nothing else. I asked my friend, too."
  • Didn't you have Spanish today?"
  • "Oh yeah, he gave us a worksheet to do. And we started our new technology class today. It looks great."
  • "Don't you usually have a syllabus or something to sign when you start a class?"
  • :"Oh yeah, I forgot. I need you to sign two papers."
  • "It's Monday. Didn't you have a letter you had to write in class today in Language Arts? Do I need to sign it?"
  • "And spelling due Thursday?"
  • "Uhuh. She handed out a sheet."
  • "Your social studies teacher sent me a copy of your study guide for your test Friday."
  • "But that's not due until Thursday!"

(Are YOU busy with a short attention span? Skip to the bottom of this page for a concrete list of tips that really help If you've got the time for the background, read on.)

The Organizational Demands Of Middle School

Sound familiar? Five assignments. My son had only remembered one. And given that up to 75% of his grades are based on homework, not remembering to do it - or to turn it in when it's complete - can cause major problems for kids, failing grades, and even retention in middle school,

Middle school differs from elementary school in many ways - one of the most important, but underestimated, is the increased pressure it puts in kids' organizational abilities. Take the above example. Not only does it show off my son's not atypical difficulty keeping track of his work. It also shows up just how COMPLICATED the work is that he has to keep track of.

  • Five courses with six different teachers
  • Due dates of one, two, and four days.
  • Different types of tasks, each needing different types of materials to complete them

Cognitive Development In Middle School

Although kids make major gains in cognitive ability as they enter adolescence , often the demands of school outstrip them. As I wrote in my previous post: What MIddle School Parents Should Know: Adolescents Are Like Lawyers , middle schoolers make five major gains in their ability to think:

  • They can think about possibilities
  • They can think about abstract concepts
  • Their metacognitive abilities improve (they can think about thinking)
  • They can think multi-dimensionally, playing one idea off of another
  • They can think relativistically, understanding things from different points of views.

The misfit on middle schools to early adolescents' development

A positive side of this development is that they are capable of much more abstract, multidimensional thinking.

Unfortunately, these new abilities often put them in conflict with the demands of middle schools.

  • Middle school requires more rote learning. As developmental researcher Jacqueline Eccles has written, at the same time that adolescents develop new cognitive abilities, many middle schools ask students to do more ROTE tasks that are LESS cognitively demanding. Whereas elementary school projects often ask kids to integrate and think creatively about material, middle schools often ask kids to memorize and repeat back information. Although there are many good reasons for this - you can't think integratively and intelligently in the absence of facts and solid knowledge, it can also be frustring for students who feel that they are doing more repetitive, less challenging tasks. Math, in particular, tends to focus on review and consolidation rather than learning new skills.
  • Thinking about multiple possibilities can cause kids to freeze. Presented with many different possibilities, kids can freeze up, spending more time thinking and deciding than choosing a path and doing.
  • School's demands for organization may outstrip kids' abilities to do it. Moving from class to class requires kids to rapidly adjust to the expectations of different teachers. Assignments are rarely as integrated as they are in elmentary school or as teachers would like them to be. And the physical act of bringing home all those books and all those papers - and getting them back again - can be daunting.

The responsibility for completing their work lies in your child

It is important to remember that the primary responsbility for completing work well is with your child. But it's also really easy for us to believe that when they don't immediately do that well, it's from stubbornness, or laziness, or lack of effort.

Begin with the assumption that it's not. Most kids want to do well. They certainly don't want to get in trouble and don't want to spend more time on their homework than they have to. Giving them the tools they need can improve homework quality while at the same time reducing the time it takes to complete it.

Some strategies that work

Parents can help kids get organized by focusing on the PROCESS and LOGISTICS of school and not just 'helping with homework' and working on content. By focusing on HOW they do their homework (what time, what conditions) not the content of it, you let them keep control over it while giving them tools to manage it effectively themselves.

organization in homework

In addition to these suggestions, go to this page on Children With Special Needs for a wealth of additional information. A list of strategies for both teachers and parents are available here at Intervention Central.

Where things fall through the cracks.

When my son and I went through his problems with completing and turning in his work, we came up with five key points where things fell apart. These were the principles we arrived at:

  • Eliminate thinking as much as possible
  • Make organization automatic
  • Use planners or assignment books effectively - you can't count on memory
  • Make sure all materials are home when they're needed
  • Make sure completed assignments can be found and TURNED IN

Make things automatic. The single most important thing you can do is to help your child make good organizational skills AUTOMATIC.The less they have to think, the less likely they are to make mistakes. The goal is for good organizational skills to become habitual so your child doesn't have to think about and remember what to do. They go to class, sit down, and open their planner and check the board for assignments.

Organize all materials together in one place. When my son got his supplies list at the beginning of the year, he was asked to get 7 folders and 7 spiral notebooks, plus two three ring binders. The idea, I know, was to minimize what the kids had to carry back and forth to school. Kids are supposed to bring home what they need and leave the rest at school. This only works for organized kids. For my son, it meant that he'd always be home without the notebook he needed to do his homework.

A few years ago we had solved the problem by putting everything into one humungous three ring binder.

Last year, that didn't work, as the folders and notebooks were just too numerous. After six month's experimentation, we finally got a new system: a large expanding accordian folder that took file folders and spiral notebooks alike. It even took his assignment book.

This year EVERYTHING went on an iPod Touch. He takes pictures of the assignments the teacher writes on the board. He takes pictures of the worksheets so he can't lose them. He takes pictures of his assignments so he can print them out again if (when) he loses them. He enters his assignments in an app that is fantastic for keep track of assignments. He does his writing assignments on Google Docs, which are accessible from anyplace that has internet. He shares them with his teachers or can access them from his iPod and print them out. His teachers (bless them) will also let him just show them the picture and give him credit.

Which system works for your child may differ. But the idea is simple: if everything is in the same place and goes back and forth from home to school, materials are at home when needed and completed work goes back to school where it can be found. It's one less thing to remember. If you buy thinner notebooks and eliminate completed work, it isn't too much to carry.

Assignment books are the critical first step in making sure that homework is done. Many kids' metacognitive skills haven't caught up with the fact that the complexity of their tasks has outpaced their ability to keep everything in their heads.

What they can do:

  • Write down the assignment on the day it is due. The way I and many parents were taught to use a planner is to write assignments down the day it is due. You look ahead and know what to work on. You can put in 'tickler' notes to break down long assignments into smaller parts.
  • When an assignment is assigned, write it down the day assigned AND THE DAY DUE.
  • The next day, check the previous day's assignments. Anything not complete gets written down again. Each day, continue to add new and uncompleted assignments. When an assignment is done, check it off.
  • With this system, each day's listing works as a 'to do' list. It thus combines both an agenda and a to do list.
  • PHOTOGRAPH THE CHALK BOARD. Most of my son's teachers write the assignments on the boards. Many of them have the week's assignments written there on Monday. Take a picture. They can organize it later.

What you can do:

  • Ask your child about each class and check to make sure any assignments are written down. Be especially aware of patterns. Is spelling always due Thursdays? Math tests on Fridays? Put it on your own calendar so you can remember to ask.
  • Check their planner against other sources of information. One way that parents can help is to check assignment books against other sources information to make sure they are complete. Your kids can do that too. Many schools put some assignments on-line. Other teachers hand out calendars. Others have weekly scheduled. For example, my son's Language Arts teacher assigns spelling, analogies, and grammar on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively, and everything goes in on Thursday. Writing that down at the beginning of each week helps to keep things in order.
  • If it's still not working, ask for help from the school. If, after all best effort, you child still isn't bringing home an accurate list of assignments, enlist help. Ask your child to stop by their teachers after school or at the end of each class and check their assignment books. If your child isn't turning in homework, your child's teacher is probably at least as frustrated as you and your child.

Make sure needed materials are home when they're needed. One of the real challenges of getting homework done is making sure that each of the books, handouts, and assignment lists are home when they're needed.

  • Check the assignment book at the end of each day as they're packing for home.
  • Set up a system to remember books. Have your child mark down what they need when they write down the assignment. For example, they can put a post-it note on the front of the planner. When they write down the assignment, they write down the books or handouts they need to do it on the post-it. If they check their post-it before they leave at the end of the day, they should be set.
  • Ask for extra books. Is this a chronic problem? Does you child have a 504 or IEP or just concerned teachers? Ask for an extra set of books. In addition, many books are available electronically and the teacher just have to give you an access code.
  • Don't forget worksheets! Sometimes putting all worksheets directly in the planner is the best way for them to make it home. My son takes photographs of every worksheet he is given so it's on his iPod, he can't lose it, and he can print them out if they get lost.

Still not working?

  • If you can get a second copy of your child's books, DO IT. Some books are needed every day, but others are only needed once in a while. Kids often forget books not needed on a daily basis. This can cause major problems. It had never occurred to me that I could solve this problem by getting an extra copy of textbooks, but when I asked, my son's teachers were happy to oblige. Often now they are available electronically, you just need to get the passcode. If you're having a problem, they may have extra copies of old textbooks stuck in a closet somewhere. Ask. They can only say no.

Turning in Completed Homework

Maybe it's just my family, but both my sons and two of my neices complete their homework and then never get credit for it because they (a) leave it in their locker (b) can't find it when they teacher asks for it or (c) forget to turn it in. Because teachers are trying to reward good homework skills, this often means 0's entered into their grades or, when we're lucky, losing half the credit or more. Frustrating.

What your child can do:

  • Put all homework in their assignment book. For some children, slipping all homework for the day into their assignment book is a good strategy, as they need to take it out to write down their new work. If that works, go for it.
  • Flag assignments that will be turned in .Because some homework needed to be in binders and other was loose, keeping it all in one place simply did not work for my son. Flags did. You know those bright post-it notes or flags you can buy? Or paper clips? Every time my son completes an assignment, he puts a bright flag on it before he sticks it in his accordian folder. When he opens the folder up, the first thing you see is four or five bright markers, showing what has to be turned in for the day. Since he began using this system, he hasn't lost one assignment.
  • Have them photograph every assignment. The ones they do in class. The ones they do at home. My kids can lose anything. Photograph it. They may also realize the assignment they thought was done wasn't finished. The photograph will show it to them.
  • Do all work that can be done in Google Docs. They can't lose an assignment typed into Google Docs. They also can't lose an assignment photographed or scanned and uploaded to Google Docs. Anything in Google Docs can be printed again. Many teachers who are just checking off that things are done will just look at an iPod or phone and check it off as there.

What can you do?

Essentially nothing. You can teach your child strategies and give them the tools they need to do their work. You can make sure they photograph or upload it. But ultimately, once the homework is done and they are off at school, they're on their own.

The Disorganized Child

The New York Times published a piece today by noted psychologist, Alan Sroufe, about the long-term problems of relying on ritalin to help kids who have problems with hyperactivity and concentration in school. Bottom line: it doesn't work. Whatever your feelings about the diagnosis or over-diagnosis of attention deficit disorder , ALL of us need tools to help us stay organized and on-task in this very demanding and multi-tasking world.

Middle school is a great place to learn skills that can carry kids forward into adulthood. Some kids may develp those skills naturally. Other kids need some help. But all of us can benefit from making good strategies automatic, so can work more effectively.

Related Pieces

Check out the comments section! We've had some good suggestions added.

  • What Middle School Parents Should Know Part 1: Adolescents Are Like Toddlers
  • What Middle School Parents Should Know Part 2: Adolescents Are Like Lawyers
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15 Organizational Skills for Students (Plus How To Teach Them)

Help them get their ducks in a row.

Collage of organizational skills for students, including a chore checklist and organized backpack

For some people, staying organized comes naturally. But most of us have to develop these skills over time, learning the most effective methods to keep ourselves on top of it all. That’s why it’s so important to help kids and teens learn and practice good organizational skills. When teachers and parents explain, demonstrate, and model organizational techniques, students get a good grounding in these valuable behaviors. Here are 15 skills everyone should learn, plus effective ways to teach and practice them.

1. Time Management

Bullet journal page showing a color-coded time tracking system

This is a key organizational-skills topic for kids, who often have very busy schedules. By their middle school years, kids should be learning to think ahead about how much time they’ll need to complete all their tasks. They’ll also need to learn how to help themselves stay on task, which is a big part of time management.

How to teach time management: Start by showing kids how to track the time they spend on various activities ( get a terrific list of time tracker worksheets at Develop Good Habits ). Help them identify blocks of time that could be better spent, and talk about ways to help them stay focused on the task at hand.

2. List-Making

Blue clipboard holding a colorful chore chart checklist for kids, with a pen and other office supplies

Ah, the magic of the checklist! Who doesn’t feel a sense of satisfaction at crossing an item off their to-do list? To be effective, though, lists must be specific and easily accessible. (There’s no point in making lists if you’re just going to lose them!) Teach kids how to break tasks down into manageable line items, and use those items to create a checklist. Whether they keep a paper list or use an online to-do list app, ensure they check it regularly to help them remember what comes next.

How to teach list-making: For many kids, their first checklist is a chore chart like this free printable from The Incremental Mama . From there, students can move on to making lists for school projects, breaking each one into detailed tasks. For instance, they shouldn’t just write “Make diorama.” Their list should include items like “Choose topic,” “Sketch a plan,” “Find materials,” “Cut out figures,” etc.

3. Prioritizing

The four-quadrant Eisenhower matrix, which organizes tasks by urgency and importance

This is possibly one of the most important organizational skills of all. When you have a big list of things you need to do (and want to do), you have to know how to prioritize some things before others. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know which items you need to tackle first, and which can wait awhile (or even be deleted).

How to teach prioritizing: Start by helping kids break down their tasks into three categories: Urgent, Important, and It Can Wait. (Buy a printable worksheet from Mylemarks , or make your own.) Older students might want to try the Eisenhower Matrix , which classifies items into four categories by urgency and importance.

4. Scheduling

Page layout from Five Star academic planner, with a smartphone displaying the Five Star Study App

Sooner or later, we all find ourselves wishing we had a few more hours in the day to get stuff done. Sadly, you can’t give kids longer days, but you can help them learn to create schedules that fit into the time they do have. To be an effective scheduler, you need to have an accurate idea of how much time something takes, as well as knowing which items to prioritize. Scheduling tools should be easy to update, and always close at hand.

How to teach scheduling: Help students create a scheduling system that works for them by taking a look at our list of the best academic planners for students . It includes both paper options and online apps. Whichever they choose, make sure their schedule leaves a little wiggle room for the inevitable stuff that pops up from time to time and throws everything off course!

5. Creating Routines

Good Morning Routine with images showing items like make bed, wash face, brush teeth, etc.

Routines can be one of the easiest ways to help busy kids stay on track. If you do the same things each day at the same time in the same way, you’re less likely to forget them. For instance, teach young kids to get up, make their bed, brush their teeth, comb their hair, get dressed, eat breakfast, and so on. An after-school routine might be: Hang up coat, unpack backpack, grab a snack, spend 30 minutes unwinding, tackle homework, set the table for dinner, etc. Once these routines become automatic, kids (and parents!) will find their lives are a lot easier.

How to teach routines: Teachers, use these 31 Must-Teach Classroom Routines to keep students organized at school . At home, parents can create checklists to help kids establish a new routine. After awhile, you’ll likely be able to do away with the list because the routine will now be a habit.

6. Goal-Setting

Chart showing the characteristics of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based

In addition to all the things we have to do, life is filled with things we want to achieve. That’s where setting goals comes into play. It’s one thing to think yourself: “I want to make the basketball team.” It’s another to actually set a series of smaller goals to help yourself achieve that dream. SMART goals have been popular for years because they really work. Each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Learn more about SMART goals from Purdue Global.

How to teach goal-setting: Coach students to dream big, then make the plans they need to reach those goals. Start by using our free goal-setting worksheet that guides kids as they identify their overall goals. Then, follow our guide to helping students set goals in ways that truly make them achievable.

7. Project Planning

Four printable organizational skills project planner worksheets with room for lists, resources, and more

When you give students long-term projects to complete, there’s real value in also helping them plan out how they’ll complete those projects. Show them how to break a project into smaller parts, then estimate the time needed for each part and create a schedule. Help them identify the resources the project requires, and consider any obstacles they might need to overcome. Don’t forget to have them set regular reminders to ensure they’re staying on track along the way.

How to teach project planning: Printable project planners are a terrific tool for students. For elementary kids, provide a planner like this one from Scattered Squirrel , and help them complete it before starting the project. For middle school kids, provide the planner as a tool they can use on their own. Point high school students in the direction of useful planning tools, and encourage their use.

8. Collaboration

Handwritten chart displaying what rockstar group work looks like and sounds like

School projects often also require collaboration, which actually involves a lot of organizational skills. In addition to working together to make a project plan, students need to learn to delegate responsibilities and communicate effectively. Each member of a team must organize their own tasks, plus communicate their achievements and needs with other team members.

How to teach collaboration: The more often kids are given opportunities to work together, the stronger their collaboration skills will become. Try these 5 Tips for Successful Group Work in the Classroom , and be sure to look into our favorite tools for online collaboration here . Then, give them a chance to practice with 40+ Best Team-Building Games and Activities !

9. Preparation

An example of mise en place organizational skills, with carrots, mushrooms, meat, spices, and other ingredients laid out on a cutting board

Once you have a plan in place, you’re ready to tackle the task. First, though, you have to prepare any materials or resources you might need. This could be laying out the ingredients you need to bake cupcakes, gathering all the resource materials for a research project in one place, or laying out the clothes you’ll wear to school the next day. Preparation is a step people often skip, but taking time to prep in advance is an important method for keeping yourself organized.

How to teach preparation: Chefs know the importance of mise en place, a French term that means gathering and measuring out all your ingredients before you begin. Teach students about this concept using lesson plans from Twins and Teaching . Then, ask them how they can apply mise en place to other projects and activities in their lives.

10. Physical Organization

A student's backpack, open to show individual storage bags for each school subject

Keeping all our stuff organized is so challenging that we have entire stores dedicated to the concept. (Love you, Container Store !) But just investing in all the cute and clever storage bins and organizational systems isn’t enough. You’ve got to teach kids to use them, every single day. Routines can be helpful here (see above), as can creating clear labels and dedicated space for particular items.

How to teach physical organization: In the classroom, model good organizational skills using these 30+ Brilliant Classroom Organization Ideas for Teachers . In elementary school, you can also try some of these innovative ways to organize take-home folders . At home, try setting aside 10 minutes at the end of every day for kids to put away toys, games, and clothes, then get their backpack in order for the next day. Learn how to organize your backpack in nine steps from wikiHow.

11. Digital Organization

In today’s world, we have nearly as many things to organize online as we do in the real world. Files, apps, photos, emails, messages, passwords … the list goes on and on. Digital organization is a need that didn’t even exist a generation ago, so there are plenty of adults who struggle with it too. But students need to learn how to manage digital files, passwords, and other information effectively.

How to teach digital organization: Show students how to name files usefully so they can find them later. Older kids can benefit from learning to find and use safe password management software. Teach students how to create folders and sub-folders to store all their files and emails. One popular strategy is the PARA method—check it out at Forte Labs.

12. Note-Taking Strategies

Page demonstrating the Cornell method of note taking (Note Taking Strategies)

Taking notes isn’t as simple as just writing down what the teacher says. There’s a real art to it, and knowing how to do it well can be the difference between passing a class with ease or struggling your way through. Fortunately, there are a variety of proven note-taking methods out there, so all kids can figure out the strategies they like best.

How to teach note-taking strategies: Our complete guide details seven top note-taking strategies , including the Cornell Method, Boxing Method, Mapping Method, and more. Share these with students so they can find the ones that work best for themselves.

13. Financial Planning

Screenshot from EverFi's Financial Literacy for High School program, showing the steps of making a budget

Keeping finances in order is one of the best organizational skills we can teach kids. They’re never too young to start, either. At home, parents can show kids how to budget their allowance using the spend, share, and save method . In the classroom, today’s teachers have access to a huge array of financial literacy lessons and units.

How to teach financial planning: Need financial-planning ideas for your curriculum? Try these 30+ Financial Literacy Lesson Plans for Every Grade Level .

14. Test-Taking Strategies

Student holding a pencil and taking a math test on a printed page laying on a desk

Acing a test requires a complex set of organizational skills, from studying and test prep to the order you tackle the questions themselves in. Some students suffer from severe test anxiety, which keeps them from being able to truly demonstrate what they know. Learning the best way to organize in advance and prepare for a test can make a real difference.

How to teach test-taking strategies: Check out our complete guide to test-taking strategies for students here. Help kids learn to conquer anxiety by preparing well in advance, taking their time on test day, and more.

15. Personal Assessment

A Track Your Learning worksheet with a grid for learning goals and documenting achievements

Every so often, it’s important to set aside time to establish exactly where you are in terms of your goals and tasks. This could be as simple as sitting down at the end of the day to review and check off items on your to-do list. Or it might mean taking a broader look at your life in general to assess how much progress you’ve made toward personal goals. Either way, doing this regularly will help you organize your thinking as you prepare for the future.

How to teach personal assessment: Our free printable Track Your Learning worksheet can help elementary and middle school kids assess the progress they’ve made toward their goals. Encourage older students to regularly revisit the goals they’ve set for themselves and evaluate where things stand.

Have we missed any important organizational skills for kids and teens? Come share your thoughts in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, these are the executive functioning skills kids should learn, grade by grade., you might also like.

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25 Thoughtful Organization Activities For Elementary Students

  • Elementary Education

organization in homework

Introduction:

Organization is an essential life skill that children need to learn at an early age to ensure success in school and later in life. These 25 thoughtful organization activities are designed for elementary students to help them develop valuable organizing habits and skills.

1. Color-coded binders: Have students organize their subjects with different colored binders or folders, so they can quickly find what they need.

2. Weekly planner: Teach students how to use a weekly planner where they can enter their homework, assignments, and upcoming events, helping them plan their schedules effectively.

3. Clean-up time: Encourage kids to take a few minutes each day for tidying up their desk and backpack.

4. Labeling bins: Use labeled bins for students to store supplies, such as pencils, markers, and crayons, making it easy for them to find what they need quickly.

5. Daily checklist: Implement a daily checklist that students complete before leaving school each day to prepare themselves for the next day.

6. Goal setting: Teach students the importance of setting personal goals and help them create achievable targets for academic and extracurricular activities.

7. Homework corner: Designate a special area in the classroom for completed homework assignments, allowing students to turn them in efficiently.

8. Categorizing books : Organize the class library by categories or alphabetical order, teaching students how to properly maintain the system.

9. Calendar creation: Provide each student with a monthly calendar where they can mark important dates and deadlines.

10. Class jobs: Assign various organizational tasks like paper collector or board cleaner as student responsibilities, fostering teamwork and responsibility.

11. Study group sign-ups: Set up a system where students can sign up for study groups based on interests or subject matter.

12. Classroom layout planning: Involve students in the process of arranging classroom furniture to optimize learning spaces according to their needs and preferences.

13. Memory box: Encourage students to create a memory box where they can keep important artifacts and mementos from the school year.

14. Personalized folders: Allow students to decorate their own subject folders to enhance engagement with their schoolwork.

15. Mapping out routines: Help students map out their daily routines for both school days and weekends.

16. To-do lists: Teach children the benefits of creating and utilizing to-do lists to prioritize tasks every day.

17. Organizing class materials: Sort materials needed for group projects or experiments by their components, making it easier for students to find what they need.

18. Time management exercises : Guide students through time management exercises, which help them allocate time for various tasks efficiently.

19. Visual reminders: Use visual reminders, such as charts and posters, around the classroom to emphasize organizational skills.

20. Role-playing scenarios: Implement role-playing exercises that reinforce organizing habits in various contexts, such as preparing for a test or cleaning up after an activity.

21. Group discussions: Facilitate group discussions about organizing strategies, allowing students to share their own tips with peers.

22. Binder check-ins: Periodically check each student’s binder to ensure they are maintaining an organized system, offering guidance when needed.

23. Reward system: Implement a reward system for students who demonstrate excellent organizational skills consistently.

24. Peer mentorship: Pair younger students with older ones who can model proper organization techniques and offer advice.

25. Family involvement: Encourage parents or guardians to participate in helping students maintain a sense of organization at home and at school.

Conclusion:

By incorporating these 25 thoughtful organization activities into your elementary classroom, you’ll help your young learners develop essential life-long organizational habits that will equip them for success well into the future.

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Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

She can be reached at [email protected] .

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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30 Lifesaver Back-to-School Organization Ideas for the Home

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Are you stressed out thinking about the chaos that comes with back-to-school? Organization is key!  Here are 30+ ideas for school organization at home that are sure to help – includes homework stations, backpack storage, and family commander centers! Free organizational checklist and motivational poster below!

organization in homework

This post contains affiliate links. See Disclosures for details.

The Back to School Chaos

“Mrs. Landry, I promise, I did my homework. I have no idea why it’s not in my backpack,” (said while pulling out a never-ending stream of white 8.5×11″ sheets of paper…).

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that during my teaching career, I could have quit long before I left to have my twins.  

So many kids struggle with organization, and truth be told, it can be really hard to teach and enforce at home when, as a mom, you feel like you are just swimming in the chaos.

Organization and Systems are Key!

I’m a huge fan of systems and processes, and adding a few school organization strategies to your home at the beginning of the year can be so beneficial to your child’s success during the school – and to your sanity. 

Below are 3 ways you can begin to organize your child and your home to have it ready for the school year: homework stations, backpack zones, and family command centers.  

Take a look at these ideas, get some inspiration, and see what is doable for your home.  It’s not meant to put more pressure on you, but with just a little bit of pre-planning before the craziness of the school year starts, you and your child will be set up for a much smoother, less frustrating school year.

Many of these ideas overlap. You may want to put the backpack storage in the command center as well as some homework supplies. You might want to put backpack storage at the homework station. You’ll also see that you can mix-and-max a lot of the inspiration pictures as well. You really can custom-create what will serve your family.  Whatever space and functionality work best for you – go for it!

At the end of the post, you’ll see a supplies list for some of the important items you may need to purchase to set up your home for school organization!

And be sure to visit the original sites. LOTS more ideas to help are there for your taking!

Other Tips and Routines for School Organization

Dinnertime Meal Planning   – Dinnertime can be such chaos during the school year.  Having your meals planned out ahead of time goes such a long way! Here are 30 Easy & Healthy Weeknight Dinners you can choose from to make life run a little more smoothly. And here’s my favorite way to meal plan!

Lunch Planning – Having lunches made the night before cuts down on a ton of morning drama.  If your kids are old enough, add making their own lunches to their chore list.  And having convenient healthy grab & go snacks (all organic!) ready can make things much, much easier.  You don’t need to sacrifice ease for health!

Clothes Planning – Picking out outfits the night before also cuts down on potential screaming matches before the bus comes.  Making sure clothes are clean and ironed can help a lot also.

Backpacks Packed the Night Before – Making sure homework is in the backpack and all papers are signed the night before also cuts down on drama trying to get out the door.

Breakfast Planning – Whatever you serve your kids for breakfast, having it ready to go ahead of time is key. Knowing what they are going to eat ahead of time makes a big difference.  And it can even be something you baked and froze ahead of time, and now it just needs to be popped in the toaster or microwave. 

Having something simple, even if it’s just cheese sticks or protein bars or yogurt pouches, something they can eat at the bus stop or on the bus will help them get started with some healthy energy.

If you want a full back-to-school checklist for end of summer prep and 1st day of school prep, grab the free printable by filling out the box at the end of the post!

And don’t forget prayer! You can get 31 printable Scripture-based prayer cards for your kids right here for free!

Tips from Your Child’s Teacher

Home is just one side of staying organized for the school years.  Teachers also have a lot of valuable input when it comes to having a successful, productive year.  If you really want to up your game and get ahead of the curve, take a look at 10 things teachers wish parents knew !

Ok, let’s get ready to get your house ready for back to school!

This post contains affiliate links. See Disclosures for more details.

Homework Stations

organization in homework

Having a designated place for homework goes such a long way in productivity for kids.  It saves so much time when all of the supplies are right in one place, and they know that when they sit there, they need to get down to business.  A few pointers for homework stations:

  • Make sure your homework station is distraction-free .  It should be in a quiet place. No TVs. A cell-phone-free zone.

2. All the supplies they need should be within reach . This will save a ton of time, and it will also cut down on their excuses to leave the station to hunt down supplies (i.e. waste time).

3. If your child needs supervision , it should ideally be someplace where you can keep an eye on them, while you’re making dinner or doing something else. 

4.  You know your child.  Whatever your child needs to be productive, provide it . If your child needs background noise, classical music is a good choice. If a timer would help, put one on the desk.

5. Get your child involved in decorating it and setting it up , so there’s a little more ownership there.

6. Identify whether your kids can work together or need to be separated.  Separating might require a little creativity, but the time and energy you’ll save in drama and breaking up fights will be worth it!

organization in homework

Dollar Store Portable Homework Station

This is just a simple caddy (you can find similar ones for cheap at Dollar Tree) with cups filled with supplies.  Just having everything handy in one place really cuts down on wasted time (intentional or not!) trying to find supplies.

organization in homework

Rolling Cart Homework Station

Here's another supply cart that takes it up to the next level. A rolling cart can be moved to different locations, and you can definitely expand the items that will be accessible to your kids.  This can be a great choice if you know your child has lots of different kinds of projects and needs lots of different kinds of materials.

organization in homework

 DIY Small Homework Station

If you don't have a lot of room or if you have multiple kids who need homework stations, this has wonderful ideas! A big bulletin board in front, a rolling cart. Perfect for productivity without needing a lot of real estate in the house!

organization in homework

Chalkboard Homework Command Center

With a space like this, I think many kids wouldn't mind doing homework! Bulletin boards, baskets, adorable curtain rods hung with buckets of supplies.  This is amazing.  This set up for 2 children, so if you know your kids can work side-by-side, this is a great option, without having to create 2 separate spaces.

organization in homework

DIY Homework Station with Shelves & Baskets

The shelf above this desk does all the heavy lifting for organization. Color-coordinated baskets filled with supplies, books, and having a clean, non-distracting workspace is especially helpful for kids who are easily distracted.

organization in homework

Small Space 2-in-1 Homework Station

If your kids can't work side-by-side, this is a great space-saving option! A table divided by a bookshelf provides an organized area for both kids to work, without getting on each other's nerves! Love this option!

organization in homework

Removable Tri-Fold Study Station

Those foam tri-fold project boards are a great option if you need to separate your kiddos.  It doesn't have to be fancy - or even permanent - to provide each child with his own work area.  I like this choice because your homework station can be at your dinner table, where you can keep an eye on them, but it's easily removable for dinnertime.

organization in homework

Kids Homework Station

This is such a great set-up using a table divided by a file cabinet.  The clipboards hold all kinds of important info, and each child has his or her own bulletin board! Great solution for all the artwork they bring home!

organization in homework

Seat Sacks for the Kids

The hanging buckets with school supplies are a real winner for homework stations, and this over-the-chair holder is another great idea to keep things neat and accessible!

organization in homework

Kids Art and Homework Station

This homework station is so kid-friendly and inviting!  Bold colors make it super-interesting, and the clothesline type string with clips is another fantastic place for important papers or displaying artwork.

Backpack Storage

organization in homework

This is the one thing that plagues so many moms – the backpack storage debacle.  Usually, kids are running through the front door, backpacks dropped upon entry, and it just creates such a huge eyesore.  Having a designated spot for backpacks not only cuts down on the mess, but it really helps when everyone is a rush in the morning and trying not to miss the bus. If e veryone knows where his backpack is, it minimizes so much morning stress. 

Ideally, if you can arrange to store jackets, shoes, and lunchboxes nearby as well, it will help so much .

If you have a mudroom , that’s a great place. Or, if your garage is conveniently located , that’s another fantastic spot.  I know some houses aren’t really set up like that, so the trick is to find a functional location that looks neat . There are many ways to do that in an entryway space, or even if your front door opens right up into your living room.

One thing that I think really helps moms is to realize that, while we’d like our homes to look like something straight off of Instagram, the reality is that kids live there. It’s OK for it to look like kids look there.  It can still be neat and organized, even if it has the ‘kid decor’ look.

organization in homework

Backpack Station with Initials and Coordinating Boards

So simple, clean and neat: a bulletin board for papers and a hook for the back-up. This is great if minimalist is your style!

organization in homework

Personalized Bulletin Boards & Backpacks

This is a super-functional area, not just for the backpacks, but with personalized bulletin boards with calendars as well! This is a great solution if you're trying to keep track of backpacks and other important items for several kids.

organization in homework

Backpack Storage and Organizer

If you're handy with tools, this is a fantastic DIY project! I love the functionality of it - with a place for a calendar (that's on top - the picture is a little cut off!) as well as bins to hold papers. Perfect when kids are late and running out the door. Even if tools aren't your thing, you can probably figure out a way to recreate this idea. Love it!

organization in homework

Backpack Storage Lockers

This is a super-cute locker storage area! You can see backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, and shoes.  I bet this goes a LONG way in getting the kids out the door without the chaos!

organization in homework

Backpack Storage - Mudroom Combo

The shelf with the hooks is a perfect solution for any space you need to hang backpacks.  The calendars above are an added bonus. If you're concerned about style, the shelf is also another way you can add in some home decor without it looking too 'school-ish.' The plastic mats for shoes below solve so many problems at once (lost shoes, dirt trekked through the house, etc.).

organization in homework

Chalkboard Themed Backpack Storage

Love this simple, stylish look for backpacks.  Keeps things classy!

organization in homework

Pegboard Shelving Backpack Storage

These pegboards with shelving above add a stylish, vintage look to the entryway. Again, having a shelf above the hooks is another to throw in some home decor to a functional space.

organization in homework

Minimalist Backpack Storage

Here's another win for the minimalist, clean look. Simple hooks, clean boards with initials and chunky clip. Covered all the bases.

organization in homework

Designated Drop Zone

This is a great example of using a small space to maximum functionality.  Having 2 rows of hooks just doubled the storage space, and who even knows what kinds of magical things you can put in the bench while you're at it? Great space.

organization in homework

Double Row Hooked Backpack Storage

This is another example of a stylish space that serves your needs.  Again, 2 rows of hooks = double the space. And the paneling behind it just takes it up a few notches as far as style goes.

organization in homework

Garage Organization & Backpack Storage

If you're lucky enough to have this kind of space in the garage, this is ideal. Shoes, coats, backpacks, umbrellas, instruments - that never actually have to enter your house? This is every mom's dream.  Let your imagination run wild with this one!

Family Command Centers

organization in homework

For any organization geeks, a family command center is where it’s at.  This one will probably help you more than the kids, but it’s really an essential for everyone.  You can put menus here, bulletin boards with important papers, calendars with everyone’s important events, bills, grocery list, chore chart – the sky is the limit here.  Whatever YOU need to have at your fingertips at a moment’s notice should be there.  I even keep a calendar of when bills are due posted (that doesn’t help the kids, but it sure helps me!)

This can also save on the million questions you get asked on a daily basis.  Just point them to the command center.

There are SO many fancy and adorable office-type organizational ideas that this space can DEFINITELY be pretty AND functional. And don’t let small spaces limit you. You can even use one or two different areas for a command center. There’s no rule that it has to all be in the very same location.

Look closely at these ideas.  Filter through them and see what will really serve your family best.  You know your family best. You know what information and what items will help keep you organized. There’s so much inspiration here! This might really end up being your favorite space in the house!

organization in homework

Easy DIY Clipboard Family Command Center

This is a super easy clipboard project made with Mod Podge! So many ways to make it fun - you can customize the look depending on the tissue paper or napkin you choose! Post comes with a free 33 page planner to go on top as well as directions for a weekly calendar using foam board!

organization in homework

Color Coordinated Command Center

A color-coordinated whiteboard calendar, galvanized buckets for supplies, and folders for each child. This is a perfect home base for a family info station.

organization in homework

Black and White Command Center

First, I love the clean, black-and-white look. But this mom has her act together: calendar, receipts, coupons, budget, mail - so well done.

organization in homework

Family Announcements Command Center Gallery Wall

I love this example of combining a gallery wall with a command center. Decorative wall art along with all kinds of useful menus, shopping lists, and calendars. Good central spot for family announcements!

Well done, here!

organization in homework

Design Friendly Family Command Center

This is a great example of a color-coordinated space for a command center.  The wall art, calendar, bulletin board and the labels on the basket tie the whole space together. Coordinating colors is another great way to keep a unified look.

organization in homework

Chalkboard Themed Command Center

These big chalkboards are amazing, and I love that they really are somewhat non-committal - so easy to change out a chalkboard! Storing keys as well as backpacks here pretty much ensures that this wall will get a look on the way in or way out. Great job.

organization in homework

Kid Centered Family Command Center

This is another great example of a command center with a farmhouse look. This center has a space for each child, which makes it not functional but adds ownership to the area as well. Personalized wire baskets, hooks for backpacks and calendars really teach kids to own their own space.

organization in homework

Back To School Command Center

This is a combomination of a homework station as well as command center, but it really focuses on the child and what he needs to accomplish. I love the whiteboard with washi table for a calendar you can change up. Supplies are hung up for easy access, and each child has his own clipboard.

organization in homework

Bright & Cheery Family Command Center

I just love this bright cheery space.  "Happy" is definitely the word here! Labeled file bins, magnetic board, calendar, hooks and baskets - being organized definitely doesn't have to be boring!

organization in homework

All the Essentials Command Center

All the important elements here - bins for each child, calendar, chalkboard/bulletin board, supplies - and there ya have it! 🙂

organization in homework

Seating Area Command Center

I especially like that this command center has a place to sit. It's a great spot to plan, make lists, plan menus, etc. It's the brains of the house, all in one place.

organization in homework

Refridgerator Command Center

This one appeals to me especially because I have very little wall space in my kitchen, so a way to utilize space on the fridge is ideal! You can fit more than you think on that space! Bravo!

Master Supply List

I hope you’ve gotten yourself some good inspiration for what you need to do to get organized for the school year. Next up is supplies.  I suggest hitting up Dollar Tree or someplace like that first for some of these items.  Make sure the quality is what you need, but for some generic basics, it’s a good place to start.

Next, my go-to is Amazon. Their prices are comparable with Walmart – or better – and free 2-day shipping for Prime members?  Yes, please! (If you’re not a Prime member, you can get a 30-day trial here!)

Below is the master list of supplies you’ll need.  Browse through the list and click for lots of options in each category!

For Homework Stations and Command Centers

Hanging organization supplies.

Hanging Wire Baskets

Fabric Hanging Baskets

Hanging Mail Bins

Small Hanging Tin Buckets

Wire Clothes Line Display with Clips

WALL DECOR AND HANGING BOARDS

White Boards

Chalk Boards

Bulletin Boards

Magnetic Boards

Picture Frames

Initial Letters

Menu Boards

Letter Boards

Calendars for Family

Kitchen-Size/Key Holder Hooks

DESKTOP ORGANIZATION

Tri-Fold Project Boards

Desk Dividers

Plastic Caddies

Rolling Storage Carts

Plastic Baskets

Wall Mounted Hooks

Coat Locker

Shelf with Hooks

Hall Tree with Bench

Entryway Storage Bench

Shoe Storage

I am a sucker for a good organizational hack.  There are so many ways you can really personalize these ideas and put them together in a way that fits your house and works for your family.  As a teacher, I can vouch for the fact that school organization at home is essential for a child’s success. The more you can incorporate some organizational strategies at home, the better off your child will be.

I know parents and kids and teachers experience the beginning of the school year so differently, but having back-to-school organization systems in place make the transition easier for everyone!

If you’d like a free back-to-school checklist, so you can be really prepared for school, grab this checklist as well as a free motivational print, ‘You can do hard things’. Just fill out the box below!

Thought? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear them and chat!

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30 Lifesaver Back-to-School Organization Ideas for the Home - Are you stressed out thinking about the chaos that comes with back-to-school? Organization is key!  Here are 30 ideas to for school organization at home that are sure to help - includes homework stations, backpack storage, and family commander centers!

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Organization Handouts

  • by Colleen Beck
  • April 30, 2021

Amazon affiliate links may be included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Occupational therapists work with clients on executive functioning skills that impact functioning in daily tasks, or daily occupations. Sometimes organization handouts are needed to help to educate the team of a child struggling with organizational skills. In this post, you’ll find resources as well as free organization information to use helping individuals with organization.

Free organization handouts for helping students stay organized

Organization challenges can look like a lot of different things. In the classroom, it can look like lost homework, messy backpacks, and a disaster of a desk. You can read all about our organization information here on the website. There, you will find strategies, resources, and tools to support organizational skills.

Try these other organization strategies here on the site, too:

  • 42 Organization Tips for Helping Messy Kids in the Classroom
  • Help Disorganized Sensory Kids Organize Homework
  • Organization and Sensory Processing
  • School Based OT and Getting Organized

Studies show that individuals with a small or underdeveloped frontal lobe of the brain tend to have difficulties with organization, poor memory, emotional reactions, and they tend to become overwhelmed by simple tasks. These individuals will have trouble keeping themselves organized in tasks.

These free handouts are printable tools to identify specific needs. You’ll find information describing how these areas are connected, what organization challenges can look like, and tips to help. You’ll also find classroom sensory motor activities that can help with organizing sensory input in the classroom environment.

Free Organization Handouts

To grab these organization handouts, add your email address to the form below.

Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

The Impulse Control Journal …a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying  “calm down” just isn’t enough… When a child is easily  “triggered” and seems to melt down  at any sign of loud noises or excitement… When you need help or  a starting point to teach kids self-regulation  strategies… When you are  struggling to motivate or redirect  a child without causing a meltdown… When you’re struggling to  help kids explore their emotions , develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

organization in homework

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to [email protected].

organization handouts

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IMAGES

  1. 15 School Homework Organization Tips To Make Your Life Easier

    organization in homework

  2. Simple, practical and the perfect addition to any classroom! Thanks

    organization in homework

  3. 15 School Homework Organization Tips To Make Your Life Easier

    organization in homework

  4. 15 Homework Organization and Art Display Ideas

    organization in homework

  5. How to Create an Organized Homework Space

    organization in homework

  6. Super Simple Homework Station Ideas

    organization in homework

VIDEO

  1. Grwm to do my homework #homework #organization

  2. Importance of organizing# Ch-5 organizing#XII B.St

  3. What is really homework for? How to do when instruction was not clear?

  4. 3 Kitchens in 1?

  5. Computer Organization Homework 0 (Part 1)

COMMENTS

  1. How to Do Homework: 15 Expert Tips and Tricks

    1. You've just been assigned an essay in your English class that's due at the end of the week. What's the first thing you do? A. Keep it in mind, even though you won't start it until the day before it's due B. Open up your planner.

  2. Student Homework Planner Organization Tips

    Another homework organization tip that sometimes gets overseen is teaching students to properly gather supplies. Teach students to place a checkmark next to each assignment once all the materials they will need to complete that specific assignment have been packed. For example, if they need their spelling journal to complete the homework, once ...

  3. Organizing Your Schoolwork (for Teens)

    Get Organized Organize your stuff. Everything is easier when you're organized. You can get to work faster without wasting time looking for stuff. Keep your assignments and class information organized by subject. Put them in binders, notebooks, or folders.

  4. Homework, Organization and Planning Skills (HOPS)

    The Homework, Organization, and Time-Management Skills (HOPS) intervention was developed by Joshua M. Langberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, with support from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

  5. The Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS ...

    Organization, Time-Management, and Planning Skills As is implied in the name, the HOPS intervention specifically focuses on students' use of organization and planning skills as applied to the core academic tasks of homework completion and studying for tests.

  6. Organization

    Developing organizational skills to reach homework goals. Organization is one of the first steps to becoming a successful student, and building good organizational skills can go a long way toward success in the classroom and beyond. These tips will help start your child on the path to becoming a better, more organized student. Using an Agenda

  7. 21 Easy Ways to Teach Students Organizational Skills

    Organization skills will help your kids in the classroom and at home too, making it easier for students to stay on top of homework, and keep their papers from spilling out of their cubbies and desks and swallowing the classroom hole! Three Easy Steps to Teach Students Organizational Skills The hardest part is getting started, so let's do this!

  8. 15 Homework Organization and Art Display Ideas

    5). Use a curtain wire to hang your children's art and craft projects. Check out the vertical and horizontal pockets on her walls, too, for managing incoming papers and homework! 7). A set of drawers (with labels) are a great idea for managing and organizing homework and art supplies.

  9. Effective Organization Tips for Back-to-School and Beyond

    Set a Routine: Establish a consistent homework routine. Designate specific times for studying and stick to these time slots as much as possible. Consistency helps create a habit and reduces ...

  10. Tips to Organize Homework and Backpacks

    A homework checklist is a good way to offer an after-school routine for ensuring homework is organized, the backpack is cleaned out, and important papers are addressed. A homework checklist can be presented in list format where the student checks off each item as it is completed. Other versions can be a visual schedule. Other children might ...

  11. 42 Ways to Help Messy Kids Organize Their Schoolwork

    Kids need Organization Skills in order to function during their school day. A student's desk is so over-stuffed that papers are crammed in among pencils, books, last week's homework, and the missing permission slip for today's field trip. A backpack that is filled with crumbled papers, broken pencils, toys, and crumbs from last week's ...

  12. Organizing Homework

    Create visual organization in the classroom by using color-coded systems, charts, and labeled storage. Implementing organizational strategies in the classroom can benefit all students by creating an orderly environment. A Wall Storage Pocket Chart can help with organizing homework for all of the students in a class.

  13. Organize Homework To-Dos

    dictionary File fix-up. Have your child set up a file folder for each of his academic subjects. He can do this with regular office-supply folders or make his own folders with construction paper. He can then label each folder and only keep important papers.

  14. Homework & School Organization Help for Teens: Middle & High ...

    He always has homework and important papers crumpled up in pockets in his backpack. There is a social studies project due 2 weeks ago that we just found out about." —LivermoreMom. Q: "My middle schooler struggles with his organization of homework and assignments, which end up missing by the end of the day. He then decides to carry all of ...

  15. Keep Your Middle Schooler Organized

    Put all homework in their assignment book. For some children, slipping all homework for the day into their assignment book is a good strategy, as they need to take it out to write down their new work.

  16. 15 Organizational Skills for Students (Plus How To Teach Them)

    1. Time Management @plantosucceed/Time Tracker via Instagram This is a key organizational-skills topic for kids, who often have very busy schedules. By their middle school years, kids should be learning to think ahead about how much time they'll need to complete all their tasks.

  17. Homework Organization Teaching Resources

    Results for homework organization 2,000 + results Sort by: Relevance View: List KINDERGARTEN HOMEWORK ORGANIZATION Created by Mrs Jones' Creation Station KINDERGARTEN HOMEWORK ORGANIZATIONEdit these resources to meet the specific needs of your learners. Edit by using Adobe Reader (more information below).

  18. Organization Activities

    Organizing Homework Help Disorganized Kids Organize School Work Sensory Organization Strategies Want to read the website AD-FREE? Want to access all of our downloads in one place? Want done for you therapy tools and materials These organization activities include tips for organization in kids and students so they can learn and complete tasks.

  19. 25 Thoughtful Organization Activities For Elementary Students

    Organization is an essential life skill that children need to learn at an early age to ensure success in school and later in life. These 25 thoughtful organization activities are designed for elementary students to help them develop valuable organizing habits and skills. 1.

  20. Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

    Bempechat: I can't imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.. Ardizzone: Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you're being listened to—that's such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County.It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she ...

  21. 30 Lifesaver Back-to-School Organization Ideas for the Home

    Make sure your homework station is distraction-free. It should be in a quiet place. No TVs. A cell-phone-free zone. 2. All the supplies they need should be within reach. This will save a ton of time, and it will also cut down on their excuses to leave the station to hunt down supplies (i.e. waste time). 3.

  22. 17 Organized Homework Stations

    Here are 17 homework organization stations that will inspire you to get organized that you can create for your own home! We've taken away all the guess work on how to organize a homework station with these incredible tutorials. For even more school activities and supplies Tip Junkie's Creative Community has over 280 tutorials.

  23. Organization Handouts

    Organization challenges can look like a lot of different things. In the classroom, it can look like lost homework, messy backpacks, and a disaster of a desk. You can read all about our organization information here on the website. There, you will find strategies, resources, and tools to support organizational skills.