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Lane: Here's to the making of an organized student

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By Sandra Lane
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, 11:12 a.m.

It's that time again: Back to school.

It's when we see our kids face the challenges of keeping up with a fast pace of activities, academics and sports. Here are some strategies for parents to help guide students toward a more-organized school year.

1. Prepare for the day ahead. Do as much as you can the night before in preparation for the next day. Lay out clothes, place backpack and shoes at the door and pack up your children's lunch bag. Every minute in the morning counts.

2. Use checklists. Establish routines with the help of checklists. Create lists for homework, chores, nightly tasks and more.

3. Organize notebooks. If your child responds to color cues, designate a specific colored notebook/folder for each subject. To ensure work is getting completed, designate a “to do” folder and a “done” folder.

4. Organize papers at home. Create a filing system at home to collect homework, artwork, school and sports information. Files can be purged at the winter break and end of the school year. Keep only what you treasure and share some work with relatives. You can expect art pieces to deteriorate over time; therefore, you may want to consider preserving those treasures digitally.

5. Establish a study zone. Create a space with necessary supplies where homework will be completed. When choosing your location, consider how much your child may need your assistance.

6. Use a timer. When it comes to homework, some children are more productive working in 15-minute blocks of time and then taking a 5-minute rest. You can use a timer to help students to get ready in the morning, clean up a room or set boundaries on screen time. I recommend a product called Time Timer (, as it gives children an understanding of elapsed time.

7. Keep a family calendar. Use one calendar for the family's activities. Keep a copy posted in a prominent place and encourage your children to refer to it often. Fill the calendar with activities, games, school breaks, music lessons, etc. to help establish accountability skills for the future.

8. Instill healthy habits. Feeding children more protein and cutting down on sugar will provide the right fuel to work and be active. Getting a restful night of sleep is another important tenet, so encourage nighttime habits to wind children down and prepare for sleep.

Integrating organizing habits now will establish helpful skills for your child's future as a student. Have a great school year.

Sandra Lane offers organizing services for residents and businesses in Sewickley and surrounding areas. She can be reached at, 412-841-7169 or

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