Back to School: Keeping Kids Focused and Organized

Getting a child ready for going back to school is not easy. Here are a few suggestions to help increase the chances your child will start off and remain focused and organized for the entire school year.

Pocket or Accordion folders

Any folders other than folders with pockets are completely useless.  Pockets in a folder are essential to keeping work in one place. Your child should have one for each subject area. Try getting bright colors that stand out and cannot be missed on a kitchen counter. One tip is to label one side of the folder “In” and the other “Out” so that your child knows what needs to be completed and what needs to be handed in.  If you want to get really organized, you can color coordinate the folder with the notebook or subject divider. Another great option is a bright colored accordion folder. Each subject can have its own space, and parents can create a space for parent information as well. Since most of the folders close with a clasp, there’s little risk of losing handouts. The one caveat to the accordion folder is that if your child forgets it, then work will be lost for all classes. If you choose this option, make sure that the color is bright and that your child gets used to bringing it every day from the very beginning.

Mechanical pencils

Sure, a mechanical pencil is pricier than its basic #2 counterpart. But, picture your child sitting in a classroom. His pencil breaks. He has to find his sharpener, or he has to locate the classroom sharpener. He has to wait to ask permission to get up to use it. He passes a row of classmates on his way. Do you see the opportunities for distraction here?  Now picture that your child’s mechanical pencil runs out- click click- more lead appears.  Done. It may seem simple, but the point here is that it’s more convenient and less distracting to use a mechanical pencil. Just make sure you stock up on extra lead and to occasionally check that each pencil has extra lead.

A specialized workspace

Your child should have his or her own workspace that is personalized and well stocked. A child is more likely and more willing to do homework when they have ownership of the space. Whether it’s a desk in their room or a small table in a hallway, make sure they know it is theirs. Have them help pick out supplies, decorations, and to set it up. Make sure that pencils, pens, paper, and art supplies are all readily available within the space. The goal here is also to limit distractions. If your child has to get up and search your home for a glue stick, then the possibility that they will find something more interesting to do increases.

Dry erase calendars

A dry erase calendar is a great investment for your child’s workspace. Here, they can record upcoming exams, assignment due dates, and social events as well. Having that information available at a quick glance will ensure that your child remains well aware of what needs to be done and when.


Post its are excellent tools in helping a child organize their thoughts. While reading or doing homework, it’s easy for a child to mark a problem or a piece of text with a post it. Post its can be used to mark points of interest (this is especially useful with book reports or independent reading journals), questions, or areas of difficulty. The next day your child will easily know which problem to ask the teacher about or what he or she would like to write about during journal time.
Sometimes teachers have specific requests when it comes to supplies and organizing work, so it may be best to wait until after school begins purchase some items. But when you do, keep these simple tips in mind. Starting off the school year organized is the best way to make sure your child will remain organized all year long.

Allison Casal – Dunn