Organization – what did you just think of there? Pure bliss, an annoying task, or the unachievable state that only exists in movies? Whatever option suits your suite, there is not doubt that organized rooms, backpacks and even brains can help students be more successful at school. Summer is the perfect time to declutter your space and help the academic brains get ready for the school year ahead. Of course, there are areas of your living space that have nothing to do with how well your kids do in school- I’m sure organizing the crawl space won’t help them remember the process of photosynthesis. However, for the main areas that can make differences in your student’s performance at school are the areas that they study and sleep.
No matter what grade your student is in, having a separate study area is an easy way to assist in their learning. Having a space that's devoid of distractions makes the time they spend in it easier to focus on what’s ahead, but also the separate space allows them to differentiate their study time with their spent with relaxing or with family. Keep this space free of toys and fully stocked with materials for work (writing utensils, paper, manipulative, etc) so everything a student needs is waiting for them. The study space should have a good amount of light, but be careful of overhead lighting as it can strain eyes more than a floor lamp or reading light can. Before they sit down in the space, make sure students are fed and hydrated so their body does not distract their work. A key element of this space is a desk, even if students just have folding table and a small drawer in the corner of their room, they can get the same effect of a writing desk. A desk keeps students focused on their task, rather than sitting on a comfortable chair or a bed, as it allows them to properly align themselves with their work. A clock is optional as it can cause stress for a student if they’re always watching the time, but it can also help them regulate their break times. When a student is in this space, they should be allowed to have their own time to do homework and not be bothered by siblings or pets. Finally, sometimes sitting down to do work can be an immediate tension causer for students, especially if the topic is a difficult one or they are having a particularly rough time in school. Keeping some motivational posters, goal pictures (end of the year trip destination) or certificates of achievements are a great way to set an atmosphere of hard work. Students may also benefit from having a stress or sensory toy they can play with to give them something to fiddle with and get their brain ready to work, such as play dough, a rubrix cube or a stress ball.
Another part of a student’s house that can contribute to their success is keeping their bed space organized and void of too many distractions. One of the most common distractions in modern day bedrooms are the use of phones, laptops or tablets- all of which have their benefits, but when used right before bed can signal a child to stay awake for longer, only leading in them into low-quality sleep. Beyond electronics, other distractions in a child’s room can be games, toys, artwork and too much light. The best way to keep these distractions to a limit so it cut back on their usage time right before bed and to spend a few minutes before they get settled in tidying everything back to it’s place. If you find your child’s room to be too full of toys or extra materials, consider doing a complete organizational overhaul where everything is taken out and then sorted into keep, donate or sell piles. Most often, too many choices can overwhelm anyone so by streamlining the options a child has to use they are more likely to use and appreciate the ones that they do have. This may seem like a daunting task but it can quickly turn an afternoon around and you may thank yourself once you see how much more open and inviting a space can feel once the unnecessary objects are removed.
The next way to organize a student in preparation for school is to take a look at the way they are keeping notes. A very effective way to separate classes is to colour code all the materials needed for that course (e.g: notebook and binder for English are yellow) that way it becomes easy to determine what needs to come home or be brought out for work time. For older students, if they are hand writing notes it is beneficial to rewrite or type them up again when it comes time to study, so that they can recall the information once again. If they use a computer or an device for school, taking time to print off files and highlight key information can also be beneficial, as they can see the topic present in a different way. One thing that is very helpful for any type of learner is to draw mind maps or visual representation of the lessons they have been given. This can be used to help see information from a new perspective but also summarize what key concepts were taught.
Of course, organizing writing materials, backpacks and books can all add to a more streamlined academic experience and don’t usually cost anything. A few hours spent to redo a room, or a few minutes to set up a new space can drastically help a student switch into a more school-orientated mindset. Not only will organizing a space make it more appealing, but it can make information, important materials and key ideas easier to find, leaving students less time to fumble around and more time to get their studying done.