Children have new responsibilities to manage at secondary school. As parents, you can help by teaching your teen to organise and prioritise, standing them in good stead for school life.
Get started with these no experience needed, tried and tested ideas from parents:
1. Boxes, folders and shelves
Ever heard the saying ‘there’s a place for everything, and everything has its place’? Well that’s what we’re talking about here. Your child will quickly accumulate books and folders for every subject, stationery will grow way beyond a pen, pencil and ruler, and different sports kit will be needed on different days. You won’t want to be frantically digging through a big heap of everything every morning, so clear a few shelves and buy a few folders and tubs to keep paper, pens and other supplies together and tidy (pound shops are brilliant for this stuff). And if they want to add labels and colour code everything that’s fine - it’s their system so whatever works for them.
2. Create a study space
This isn’t about remodelling your home, you just need to agree on a quiet area where your child can do their homework at the agreed time. If you’ve got space for a desk (and they want one) that’s great, but a portable desk (aka a box with everything they need in it) and the kitchen table or living room floor might be where your child is most productive – as long as you can keep the area distraction free while they work.
3. Setting priorities
Your child will be responsible for recording their homework, completing it by the correct day and giving it in on time for around six different subjects, so they’ll need to be able to set priorities. There’s more than one way of doing this, so get them thinking about the different ways they could organise tasks, for example by due date, how long the task will take, how easy or hard it is etc. Then discuss how they’ll stay on track using a planner, reminders scheduled into their phone or a task app. Download a weekly planner here.
4. Visual reminders
If there’s somewhere you can put up a whiteboard it can make it easier for your child to visualise their responsibilities. They can use it for colourful reminders, task lists and deadlines, or to map out a new project. Post it notes, wall planners, to-do lists and emails are all really useful too.
5. Practise what you preach!
Think about how you organise your family life and tasks that need doing around the home. If you don’t have one, pick up a family planner or wall calendar so your child can see how you diarise appointments. Let them see you making to-do lists and put up a rota for jobs around the house that everyone can chip in with.