It’s not news that teens are very impressionable. The organizational skills teens develop now will impact them through their adult life. So much of maturing and attending school is learning how to learn so your teen can be a more productive and responsible adult.
Students are inundated with information. We live in a fast-paced world and teens are living in an even faster-paced world. Teens are under a lot of pressure to multi-task in order to get more done in less time. This multi-tasking forces a change of focus and results in lack of focus. According to an NBC report this past April, teens spend approximately 7.5 hours a day with some kind of technology and get 1.5 hours of sleep less than they need each night. Teens need help organizing their time; they do not need someone to do it for them. Avoid being the parental crutch. Teens that have developed the mindset “I don’t need to worry about that, mom will remind me” are only being set up to fail in the future.
What can parents do to help organize their teen students?
- Set up goals with your child. Create goals that are academic and personal based. Encourage and support their efforts to achieve their goals.
- Create multiple study spaces. You’ve probably heard about creating a homework station for your kids. Many students need more than one homework station. Allow your kids to rotate where they do homework. Sometimes a change in scenery can help them refocus and get more done.
- Create a checklist. A checklist is a great tool for kids of all ages. Create a checklist of what they need to take to school. Hang the checklist near the door they exit. In the morning you can say “be sure to check the list” rather than nagging them by saying “do you have your gym clothes? Is your lunch packed? Did you remember your homework?”
- Foster a home of good nutrition. Buy healthy snacks. Avoid the sugar highs and lows. With busy schedules meals can be hard to fit in. Schedule time on the calendar for dinner. Avoid rushing to eat. Let your kids enjoy their food.
- Plan to regroup. Once a week create time on the calendar to regroup with your child. This is a great time to dump out the backpack and help your child make decisions about what is important to keep, toss or store at home.
As will all organization systems, you have to live with it and adjust as necessary. Put these changes in place and then evaluate what works and what does not work. Every child is different!
If additional guidance is needed to help your child organize their time, their assignments, and their social life there are options available. Consider talking with a school counselor or your child’s favorite teacher. Other family members, such as older siblings, can be helpful by being an example and sharing their experiences. Many professional organizers offer assistance for teens. Working with an organizer in person or virtually can provide the motivation, support and guidance that many students need.