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Many of you are moms of children who have recently passed an important milestone—graduation from elementary school! Congratulations! Your son or daughter is now just one short summer away from middle school. If the thought of your son or daughter negotiating the many organizational demands of middle school makes you just a tad nervous, it’s understandable. Middle school moves at a fast pace. Students have many different teachers, each with his or her own homework, test schedules, and due dates. Add to this, after-school clubs, sports and a social life, and you have a real organizational challenge.  

OK, you’ve got about 90 days until school starts. What can you do over the summer to help your student get organized to handle the challenges of middle school? Here are some tips:  

1.  Help your child make the connection!  

Getting your student to value  good organizational skills is the first step. Connect the benefits of good organizational skills to the things this age group values most - more independence, less stress, more free time, better grades, and more self-confidence. Talk about it with your tween over the summer. Being organized has some very appealing benefits!    

2.  Get binders organized and ready to go.  

I've blogged about this topic before, but binder organization is really important. A binder is like a compact file cabinet that a student carries around all day to file and retrieve papers, homework, and information. Students must be able to access materials quickly and keep papers neatly stored by subject. Check out my Tool #1 blog --   or go to my website at [Link Removed] for more info on how to organize a Goof-proof binder.  

3. Planners are essential.

Have your student select and begin using a planner.
A student’s planner should contain important dates and events such as bell schedule changes, holiday breaks, exams, homework assignments, and project due dates. It’s a good idea for students to include personal items scheduled during school days such as medical appointments, vacations, and after-school activities. Many school-wide dates are already available on the school or district’s website, and can be written in your students planner before school starts.  

3. Set up a home workspace that rocks!  

Encourage your student to locate, design, and stock a home workspace before school starts. A quiet, distraction free workspace helps students do their best work in the least amount of time. Over the summer they can deck out their home workspace with posters, pictures of summer fun, friends, or team photos. Make it a place they won’t mind hanging out—they’ll be there a lot.  

4. Practice Self-Advocacy

Most students, particularly those fresh out of the elementary school cocoon, have no idea that a typical middle school teacher works with 100 or more students each day. Unaware of the many demands on a teacher’s time, students continue to believe that, as in elementary school, their teachers will track them down to provide a missing assignment, solve a problem or answer a question. Well, the world as they know it, has changed forever! Over the summer, role-play various dilemmas that your student might face in middle school, such as lost worksheet, a missed lab, an absence, or even a student that talks too much in class. Practice solving the dilemma, including role playing - with dialogue. Make sure your student can recognize his or her, responsibilities, and has some verbal tools to solve problems that affect their grade.

Without basic organizational skills, middle school students can become overwhelmed. In some cases it begins a downward spiral of underachievement that can last into the high school years and beyond. Take some time to help students recognize and appreciate the benefits of good basic organizational skills. For more information, articles tips and links to helpful websites, go to  [Link Removed] 

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