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Challenge: Back to School

Help Your Middle Schooler Have an Organized School Year

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Your child is now a – take a deep breath here, parents – middle schooler. Despite how adult that may sound to the person who raised that bundle of joy, it is still such a young age, often in need of parental guidance. The jump from elementary to middle school is a large one; at many schools, the format may be entirely different, as well as the expectations. Help your student start the semester strong by walking into class organized.

Create an organized binder

The introduction of class periods may be a huge change for your student. Different teachers with different assignments can be a chaotic mess of paperwork for anyone, especially someone who used to have most classes taught in the same room. A binder can help alleviate some of these problems.

Divide the binder up with tabbed pages, leaving room for extra pieces of blank notebook paper. All syllabi, classroom rules, and assignments can be put into the binder under the right class tab to keep pieces of paper in the correct spot. If he or she dislikes the three-ring style, look at expandable file folders or two-pocket folder books.

Start using a planner

Class periods, alternating schedules, homework, exams, and extra-curriculars can easily fill up someone’s schedule – and create a bit too much to remember by heart. Have your student write it down!

Once school starts, nudge your student to write down all predetermined dates in the planner. Are weekly math quizzes always on Thursdays? Does the Spanish syllabus say when the exams will be? Add in holidays, extra-curricular obligations, and mandatory appointments. Write everything already scheduled in the planner and let your student build his or her time from there.

If he or she is unsure what to write, have your child try writing down assignment names on corresponding due dates. Then, say on Tuesday night, he or she can look at the planner to see what must be turned in on Wednesday. It may also help your student look forward, as it should be more clear that Friday’s homework can’t wait until the last minute because of Thursday’s soccer practice. This type of self-reliance may help not only in junior high school, but later in life.

Get a digital watch

Your student may already have a cellphone, but that doesn’t mean it will be allowed in class. A digital watch can help your student keep track of time during passing periods and lunch. Additionally, many digital watches have a day of the week feature, which can be a large help with alternating schedules. To avoid issues during test taking, you may want to avoid any digital watches with additional features that could prove problematic, like a calculator.

Talk to your student about the changes of middle school, and see what areas stick out the most to him or her. Discuss solutions together and find ways to stay organized amid the transition.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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