Organizing Your Middle School Student

arc notebookThose of you who have read my books might have guessed that the tips in there for busy moms, come from my own experience. When I wrote my first book, my children where 4,7, and 10 years old. I was in the early years of being a stay-at-home mom, adjusting to all the nuances of keeping up with the house, having time for myself and spending quality time with my children. When I  wrote my second book, it was two years later. My children were at the stage where they could do more for themselves and I wanted to teach them what I feel is a life skill – to be organized with your thoughts, your actions and your surroundings so that every day flows.


Now here I am with a middle-schooler, a high-schooler and a college student and the challenges are changing. So I thought I would share my experiences in a blog. The first one is about middle school.

In our school district, middle school starts in sixth grade. It is the first time students have a locker and are responsible to get themselves to the right class and remember which papers and books to bring to class and then home. They are getting into  paper management, at a time when they are anxious about being in a new place and probably going through some hormonal changes as well. It’s the perfect storm. And often their lockers, school bags and bedrooms reflect that.

Here are a few tips for setting your middle school child straight in the first few weeks of school:

  1. Go to back-to-school night! You can see whom you know in your child’s classes. Parents can then use each other for resource when instructions are unclear and homework is forgotten. You also get to meet your child’s teachers and get a feel for their personalities. Most will give you their email so use it whenever there is a question about a certain class.
  1. If your child has to use binders: use one for all the classes they have before lunch and another for the classes they have after lunch. They can usually go to their lockers then and switch. Make sure to use dividers to mark each subject. The teacher may also require sub sections.
  1. If your child can use folders and spiral notebooks: color code each subject so a blue folder and notebook for math, red ones for science, etc. Have them keep the notebook and the folder together for each class.
  1. Make one TAKE HOME folder. This should always be with your child. So when they get forms in homeroom, they go in one pocket marked “Forms.” And as they receive papers for homework each day, then go in the other side marked, “Homework.” I tell my kids to empty the folder every morning in homeroom – get papers back to the teacher or put them in the right binder. Then the folder gets filled each day and comes home. This prevents them from dragging two big binders home every night along with their textbooks.
  1. Have a routine at home for the morning, after school and before bedtime. Post a chore chart or just a little reminder card in a place they look every day until the routine becomes second nature.

Middle school is a growing season. Let your child have more freedom and see how they do with it. They will start to develop their own systems and routines and that’s fine – as long as they work. If something is not working (like they keep forgetting homework) talk it out and come up with a solution.

What are some challenges you find with your middle school student?