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School: How to keep your kids organized

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Over the summer, you probably thought your teens couldn’t get any messier. You might have been a little sad to see their summer break come to an end, but you probably thought the house would be a bit cleaner and the kids more organized with a regular schedule.

Life with teens is rarely that simple — it’s common for them to be disorganized. Psychologists believe there are two phases where the child is personally disorganized during a major psychological adjustment. The first phase is when the child enters adolescence, between 9 to 13 years of age. The second phase is when the child enters adulthood and tests independence, between 18 to 23 years of age.

All parents deal with organization in varying degrees at different times during the raising of their children. It’s a normal part of normal psychological development. If you’re struggling to keep your kids organized now that school is back in session, follow these tips to gain control of the clutter and chaos.

Jump Start the Morning

Disorganization shows up in spades when you’re trying to get your teens out the door in the morning. It’s a stressful time when parents are often trying to get to work on time and simultaneously send the teens out the door.

Consider these tips to jump start the morning:

  • Before going to bed, have your child lay out everything needed for the morning. This includes outfit, the shoes, and backpack with all homework already inside.
  • Place a timer in the bathroom and ask your teen to stick to 15 minutes or so for brushing teeth and showering. Alter the time according to your child’s needs, but remember the goal is to encourage them to move through their morning tasks efficiently.

Starting the day off right will help your teen begin each day with a well-organized mindset.

Keep Track of Homework and Projects

Parents often lament how their teens suddenly seem incapable of submitting homework and managing their project due dates — which can hurt their grades. If your teen is in high school, lower grades can impact college admissions, participation in extracurricular activities and scholarships.

Consider these tips to help your teen stay organized:

  • Buy a planner that includes a calendar, to-do pages and space for your teens’ school and social activities.
  • Make or buy a large calendar and add post-it notes to show project due dates. Your teen can see at a glance that an English paper is due on Monday, so it wouldn’t be wise to hang out with friends on Friday and Saturday.
  • Buy the right backpack that can hold your student’s books, homework and additional items needed to stay organized.

You will likely have to sit down with your student and show them how to use a planner and calendar to get organized. It doesn’t come natural for some people, but these are great habits to develop before they’re off on their own at college.

Organize the Bedroom

Have you ever walked into your child’s bedroom and felt like walking back out, boarding over the door and calling an exterminator? You aren’t alone. Encouraging a teen to keep their bedroom organized can be an ongoing battle. Consider these tips:

  • Encourage your child to store items they aren’t quite ready to get rid of but don’t currently use. Plastic totes can be placed in a basement or attic. Label them clearly and store items such as off-season clothing, toys no longer played with and trophies and awards.
  • Declutter. Ask your child to go through items and put them in one of three piles: put away, throw away and donate.
  • Bring your child into the process of becoming organized. Go shopping for tools, such as closet organizers, under bed storage and other solutions. Browse Pinterest together for organizing hacks.

The key to an organized bedroom is to help your child initially — and then do a weekly spot check. Let your child know you expect the room to stay organized now that you’ve both made an effort. Teaching your child to be more organized can be a lifelong process, but with a little perseverance and patience, you can make a dent in the chaos of a disorganized child. It will help them do better in school — and eventually every aspect of their life.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com