Organizing Students for Academic Success

Michelle Cooper

Here we are – it’s another school year. First quarter report cards are already on the horizon, and parent/teacher conferences will follow in class-rooms across the country.

How are your kids doing so far this year? Perhaps more importantly, how are you doing so far?

Our guess is that for many of you, there may be some anxiety, whatever the age of your child. You may wonder whether your child can “keep up” with all his/her homework, projects, papers, extracurricular activities, back pack, desk organization and more. As a member of ImpactADHD, you probably have a child for whom school certainly adds an extra layer of angst surrounding those issues.

In addition, school for this generation’s students is much more challenging than for those of us who went to school a few decades ago. Cultural shifts have brought many changes, including:

  • 1) The age of technology: While most of us adults had just a handful of TV channels and a few FM music stations (ok, we’re starting to sound like we’re ancient), today’s generation is exposed to hundreds of TV channels and satellite radio stations, as well as the pull of cell phones, texting, video games, iPods, the Internet, Facebook, and more. We have worked with some students for whom technology is as much an addiction as smoking or drinking.
  • 2) More academic challenges: College admission requirements are stringent and place some very real pressure on students. It’s no longer acceptable to just excel in academics. Now it’s also expected to be class President, the star of a sports team, a musical virtuoso, and excellent at testing with high SAT scores. All of these additional expectations demand more dedicated time outside of school, leaving fragmented time remaining for students’ to study.
  • 3) School work: Not only is there more history that needs to be covered, but when we add technology classes, human development, guidance counseling, test taking skills, how to be green, etc, it makes for a much heavier work load. Furthermore, much of the curriculum is being taught to our kids earlier and at a quicker pace. For example, what many of us learned in the third or fourth grades, our kids are learning in the first or second grades.
  • 4) Time: Today we very rarely see analog clocks, but mostly digital displays on microwaves, car stereos, cell phones or other media. These electronic views are preventing kids from seeing the visual concept of time actually passing, and as a result they struggle with time, which for them has become a completely abstract concept. Parents and schools are good at teaching kids how to TELL time, but very few kids are taught how to MANAGE time – a totally different concept.

To handle these changes, today’s students need strong time management and organization skills. When students “turn it around,” they get increased confidence levels, improved grades, more efficient use of time and improved family dynamics.

How can you help your student? Here are our:

Top 5 suggestions of things YOU can do to help your child find success:

  • 1) Honor each of your children’s unique qualities and recognize that they may not do best doing homework at the same time and place as his/her siblings. Upstairs, alone, with total quiet may not be the best place for each child either.
  • 2) All students need a planner! If your school does not provide one, then locate one at any office supply store. Even Kindergarten and first graders can be introduced to the basic concepts of recording homework assignments.
  • 3) Try fun weekly organizing sessions. Teach them that all items need to be taken care of and put back where they belong. Turn on some music and see who can do the best job of cleaning out a backpack, purse or briefcase.
  • 4) Stop doing all the work for your kids! They need to start taking responsibility for their own deadlines, even if they miss them now and then. This is truly the only way they can learn to do it on their own.
  • 5) Establish routines and designate proper storage places in your home. This tip is even more important for those who have children with ADHD. Make sure your child knows where to put his/her backpack, jacket and lunchbox when he/she gets home. Where are extra school supplies stored? What is the schedule for activities, homework, dinner and bedtime? How much TV/computer/phone time is allowed on a school day? Yes, it may mean more structure, but it has been proven that kids do benefit from these expectations.

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