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The Disorganized Student!

Updated: Mar 10





School is just beginning and the parents everywhere are sharing concerns about their children’s disorganization. In no time at all parents will be getting notices from the teachers about missing homework, projects, and papers. The symptoms for disorganization are below:

1- forgets to bring his/her agenda home 2-did not bring the correct book home for the homework assignment 3- inattentive and distractible 4- seems confused about what to do 5- having trouble remembering the class schedule 6-has a messy desk, book bag, locker, or cubby 7- loses books, pencils, and other materials 8- poor sense of time 9- having trouble getting started with homework 10-turns homework in late 11- writes down the wrong assignment 12- doesn’t write the correct assignment or left out an important instruction for the assignment 13- difficulties expressing him/herself in an organized manner 14- frustrates quickly 15-reading and writing are difficult for him/her

There is nothing more frustrating to a parent and student than being disorganized. Disorganization with children is nothing new. Students have struggled with organizational skills since they have attended formal schools. Education focuses on reading, writing, arithmetic, (and rightfully so), but often organizational skills and time management go untaught. Educators have to focus on strictly academics. Most parents and teachers hope that through modeling, or giving verbal instructions, somehow students will automatically fall in line with organization. In fact, for some students it’s not the difficulties with academics but rather the struggle with their own disorganization that will negatively affect their achievement academically. Keeping track of assignments, bringing the proper materials to class, keeping track of the papers, and understanding what each teacher requires for each class can be a bit overwhelming for most students. There are several explanations for poor organizational skills with students. The number one possibility is not being taught the concepts of organization and/or time management which go hand-in hand. Other reasons many include attention deficit, anxiety, stress, depression, learning disabilities, forgetfulness, and disorganized thinking.

These students will have difficulties seeing patterns, classifying information, putting things in sequence, utilizing materials, and either over packing or under packing for the task at hand. The disorganized student is not difficult to find! The cubby, desk, book bag or locker is usually the first major giveaway. Everything, including unknown objects unrelated to school, is jammed in these areas. Food, toys, trash, clothes, chewed up pencils, gum, crunched up papers, and I have even seen dirty socks and roller blades pop out of a book bag. In addition to these items, it’s not unusual to find the math homework due two weeks ago way in the back, crumbled, but nevertheless completed.


WHAT TO DO? There are several things that teachers and parents can do to help the disorganized student. The number one suggestion is to provide structure and routine. Children learn best and quickest when they have predictability. Give simple directions, (give one direction at a time). Over loading with several directions at once often clutters the brain. Ask the student what type of notebook/folders he/she feels will work for them. Color coded  notebooks/folders may help. This promotes “buy in”. If children believe they have a say it’s easier for them to want to participate in the process. Build in time to have the students clean out their book bags. Again, scheduling a time each evening, week, etc. for this task helps minimize the clutter build up. Help the student build the habit of writing down homework, due dates, projects task and events. They can use their agenda’s, calendar, and post-it notes; etc. Practice from day one on having students to write down the assignments before they leave the classroom. It helps if they use check list or a buddy system.


At home, have a quiet place to do homework, and have that space neat and clean. If the homework space is cluttered, it is distracting and over stimulating. Check with the school to see if your child can get an extra set of books for home. Networking with classmates outside of school can not only assist with academic growth but develop prosocial skills as well. Set up a homework club at the school or in the neighborhood. Be consistent and patient. These skills take time to develop but through daily practice it becomes routine. Like everything we do; what we practice grows stronger!

The Personal Wellness Center offers mindfulness workshops for children to learn and continue practicing these organizational student skills.

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