Daytime Curfew Laws
Wednesday, 4 February 2009 10:00
-by Mimi Rothschild
Your young children are studying together peacefully, helping each other circle the letter that finishes the word on a worksheet. The baby is asleep, and you’re checking an essay your teen wrote while he is out riding his bike for a while – a well-earned break between writing and algebra lessons.
A knock at the door breaks the peace of the afternoon – especially when you see that it’s a police officer bringing your son home. Dozens of frightening scenarios run through your mind before the officer tells you that you’ve run afoul of your community’s daytime curfew laws.
Many towns across the country have daytime curfew laws preventing kids from being out on the street without their parents during public school hours. Many parents have never heard of these laws.
The community leaders who lobby for these laws are thinking about kids who skip school, kids who are expelled, and kids who drop out. They’re imagining teenagers loitering at the bowling alley, smoking and drinking in parking lots, and committing vandalism and petty crimes. The laws are often presented as efforts to “keep kids off the street” or to “control crime.”
What about homeschool students who are old enough to walk to and from the library, dance class, or the park alone? They are still subject to these laws, even though they’re not the ones the community was thinking about when the laws were developed.
Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid trouble:
- Check with the local police department to find out whether your town has a daytime curfew. Ask the hours, the ages covered, and whether parental permission notes are accepted by police officers. Ask specifically what your child should do if he or she is ever stopped by a police officer.
- Make sure your children have picture ID. Those who are too young to drive (but old enough to walk or bike alone) can usually get a non-driver’s ID at the same office that issues drivers’ licenses.
- Make sure your kids understand that these laws are designed to protect them and other law-abiding citizens. If they are stopped, they don’t need to feel frightened. Since you’ve checked on the laws, you – and they – will know exactly what’s required by your community.
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
Family Health for the Homeschool
Thursday, 29 January 2009 17:23
-by Mimi Rothschild
Many of us, homeschoolers or not, start the New Year with goals for healthier living. Homeschool families have some special challenges – and some special advantages, too. How can you increase your chances of success with your family’s 2009 health goals?
• Get moving. Homeschool families often don’t have organized P.E. or sports. Maybe this is the year to enroll in gymnastics or dance classes, to form a soccer team with other families, or to sign up with a Mommy and Me exercise class. On the up side, we can also make our own decisions about how to structure the day, with nature walks, biking to field trip destinations, or Wii Fit whenever we choose. The key is making a commitment.
• Take on nutrition. Nutrition is a great topic to study, and meal planning and preparation can be part of science, life skills, or even math lessons. This is a plus for the home school family. On the other hand, we can also easily fall into the habit of grazing – if the kitchen is always open, then the kids may be snacking all day, and they may not be making the best choices. Consider limiting snack times, including good snack choices in the nutrition lessons, or even just keeping track of snacks and sodas consumed.
• Be good role models. Is this the year to quit smoking? To really get into the habit of buckling up when you drive? To change the way you handle stress? One of the primary reasons many of us choose to homeschool is in order to shelter our kids from negative influences. This means that we become an even more important role model for our children. They’re learning their health habits from us.
It’s a lot to think about – but this is a great time to think about it!
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of LearningByGrace.org the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
Writing a Perspective Book
Saturday, 11 October 2008 11:53
-by Mimi Rothschild
There are some issues which are clear cut. You want your students to have a firm understanding of Biblical principles, math processes, and scientific fact.
There are also some issues that can be viewed in more than one way. Is fall better than spring? Should children always eat healthy foods, or is it okay to have the occasional less-healthy treat? In order to get the most from a study of these interesting issues, try this fun and thought-provoking project!
Use bulletin board paper for this project, or tape together smaller sheets of paper to make a larger piece. Cut a strip of paper ten inches by 48 inches. Fold it into an accordion. You will be able to open the book and turn the pages from either side without seeing the other side of the paper.
Begin at one side and make a title taking one side of the issue: “Children Should Receive Allowances,” perhaps. Write the title on the outside cover and add an illustration. Now gather as much evidence as possible for this side of the argument. Interview people, collect newspaper articles on the subject, find relevant Bible verses, and gather facts that support the claim.
As you collect evidence, you’re bound to find some counter-evidence as well. Turn the book over and make a cover for the other side of the story: “Children Should Not Receive Allowances.” As you find evidence for that point of view, fill the pages of that side of the book with support for that side of the argument.
Once the book is complete, compare the evidence for each side, and have your student decide which side of the argument was more convincing.
This project gives practice in following directions, writing, analyzing and synthesizing information, and critical thinking.
Mimi Rothschild is the Founder of Learning By Grace, Inc. the nation’s leading provider of online PreK-12 online Christian educational programs for homeschoolers.
The Writing is on the Wall
Friday, 14 March 2008 14:58
By: Mimi Rothschild
Recently, the California judicial system has directed a two-part assault on Southern Baptist homeschoolers throughout their state. First, they have banned the words “mom and dad” and “husband and wife” from their schools – please read www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58130 – and are forcing teachers to promote a more alternative sexual lifestyle.
The second part of the assault came last week when three judges essentially banned homeschooling, deeming 166,000 children truants – www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=25469 – and their parents as criminals.
This absurd ruling needs to be reversed. Please visit: www.ReverseTheRuling.com, and learn more information about this alarming issue, and have your voice heard by signing the petition. Our goal is to gain enough signatures to present this petition to the courts and let them know that America is watching. And we know what happens in California can happen anywhere in the United States!
More so, we know that this ruling has long-term ramifications of indoctrination on our children, diminishing the Christian Values that we’ve worked so diligently to instill in them. This is not a one-off case that only pertains to an isolated incident! No, it is a Ruling that eliminates a freedom that dates back to our forefathers.
Stay informed. Spread the word. Sign the petition.
History & Cooking
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 16:35
By: Mimi Rothschild
The civil war, also known as the War Between the States, is captured in our history books and our stories. Now your homeschoolers can get a little taste of it firsthand! Here’s a recipe that has been shared from generation to generation. It’s also a perfect early cooking lesson for your homeschooler!
Civil War Cookin’: Rumbled Eggs
2 oz. butter
1 tsp. cream or milk
Very convenient for a light dish for supper. Beat up three eggs with two ounces of fresh butter; add a teaspoonful of cream or new milk. Put all in a saucepan and keep stirring it over the fire for nearly five minutes, until it rises up like a soufflé; immediately dish it on some buttered toast and eat!
Adapted from Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book, Lily May Spaulding and John Spaulding, editors. Recipe from 1866.
A Million Conversations I Have Never Really Had
Friday, 15 February 2008 18:02
By: Mimi Rothschild
Oftentimes, I am asked if homeschooled children fare the same as their Public School counterparts.
“Honestly, the answer is no,” I’ll say, as I wait for the smile of conviction to spread from the person’s face to my eyes.
Then, almost mirroring their glee, I politely explain a few of the facts I’ll encountered over the many years of being involved with homeschooling.
“For instance,” I’ll say. “Homeschooled children consistently score well on standardized achievement tests. The most comprehensive study shows a 20-30% point gap in favor of homeschoolers. For example, if the public school average is the 50th percentile a homeschooler will on average be in the 70th or 80th percentile.”
I’ll then explain that homeschooling is the fastest growing education sector in America, growing at a rate of 7-15 % per year. As of today, there are an estimated two million homeschooled children in the U.S., which is almost 4% of the school age population.
The conversation typically ends with both sides understanding the other, although neither of us quite sees eye to eye on the issue. I’m ok with it now, although it took me several years to accept it. Believe it or not, not everyone shares my beliefs about homeschooling. I know, I know, it’s not shocking to you, me, or the people asking the questions. But it’s true.
I’ll mix up my responses too. Sometimes I’ll say, “Homeschool graduates are typically more involved in community activities than the average public school student.”
Or, “Homeschool graduates are significantly more politically active than the average public school student.”
“Is that so?” I’ll hear.
“Over 74 percent of homeschooled graduates aged 18-24 voted in an election in the past 5 years. Compare this to a token 29% of public schooled graduates who voted during that same time period.”
But, that line of reasoning hasn’t gone that well for me either.
“Well, my little Abigail or Elsie graduated from Public High School last year and she voted.”
“I mean not to offend. I’m sure your daughter is very patriotic,” I’ll say as I backtrack out of the conversation that I was originally baited into.
I’ll finish with, “Ok, did you know that homeschooled students consistently win national geographic and spelling bee contests?”
“That I did hear somewhere.” Politely, we finally can agree.
It seems like everyone knows, and is ok with the fact, that homeschoolers are great spellers.
Feel free to e-mail me at Mimi@LearningbyGrace.org.
Questions Before, During, and After Reading: Part 2 of 2
Thursday, 15 November 2007 10:18
By Mimi Rothschild
Here’s part two of “Questions Before, During, and After Reading.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
How Can You Stretch Students’ Thinking?
The best way to stretch students’ thinking about a text is to help them ask increasingly challenging questions. Some of the most challenging questions are “Why?” questions about the author’s intentions and the design of the text. For example:
“Why do you think the author chose this particular setting?”
“Why do you think the author ended the story in this way?”
“Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from the point of view of the daughter?”
“What does the author seem to be assuming about the reader’s political beliefs?”
Another way to challenge readers is to ask them open-ended question that require evidence from the text to answer. For example:
“What does Huck think about girls? What is your evidence?”
“Which character in the story is most unlike Anna? Explain your reasons, based on evidence from the novel?”
“What is the author’s opinion about affirmative action in higher education? How do you know?”
Be sure to explicitly model your own challenging questions while reading aloud a variety of texts, including novels, subject-area textbooks, articles, and nonfiction. Help students see that answering challenging questions can help them understand text at a deeper level, ultimately making reading a more enjoyable and valuable experience.
As students become proficient in generating challenging questions, have them group the questions the time they were asked (before, during or after reading). Students can determine their own categories, justify their reasons for placing questions into the categories, and determine how this can help their reading comprehension.
When Can You Use It?
Students who have similar interests can read the same text and meet to discuss their thoughts in a book club. Members can be given a set of sticky notes to mark questions they have before, during, and after reading the text. Members can then share their question with one another to clarify understanding within their group. Since students’ reading level may not necessarily determine which book club they choose to join, accommodations may need to be made, including buddy reading, audio recordings of the text, or the use of computer-aided reading systems.
Good writers anticipate their readers’ questions. Have students jot down the questions they will attempt to answer in an essay or short story before they write it, in the order that they plan to answer them. Stress that this should not be a mechanical process – as students write they probably will think of additional questions to ask and answer. The key point is to have students think of themselves as having a conversation with the reader – and a big part of this is knowing what questions the reader is likely to ask.
Students can ask questions before, during, and after solving a math problem. Have students think aloud or write in groups to generate questions to complete performance tasks related to mathematics.
Use before, during, and after questions when beginning a new chapter or unit of study in any social studies topic. Select a piece of text, and have students generate questions related to the topic. At the end of the unit of study, refer back to the questions and discuss how the questions helped students to understand the content.
Use before, during, and after questions to review an article or science text. You can discuss articles related to a recent scientific discovery with students and then generate questions that would help them to focus their attention on important information.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, The Mitten
This lesson is designed to introduce primary students to the importance of asking questions before, during, and after listening to a story. In this lesson, using the story The Mitten by Jan Brett, students learn how to become good readers by asking questions. This is the first lesson in a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, Grandfather’s Journey
This lesson is for intermediate students using the strategy with the book, Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say.
Lesson Plan: Questioning, Koko’s Kitten
This lesson is designed to establish primary students’ skills in asking questions before, during, and after they listen to a story. You can help students learn to become better readers by modeling how and when you ask questions while reading aloud the true story, Koko’s Kitten, by Dr. Francine Patterson. This is the second lesson in a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.
Lesson Plan: Asking Pre-Reading Questions
This is a language arts lesson for students in grades 3-5. Students will learn about asking questions before reading and will make predictions based on the discussion of the questions.
Lesson Plan: Asking Questions When Reading
In this lesson, the teacher will read The Wall by Eve Bunting with the purpose of focusing on asking important questions. The students and the teacher will then categorize the questions according to the criteria for each.
Journaling Strategies For Homeschooling Students
Friday, 2 November 2007 09:14
By Mimi Rothschild
Homeschooling parents know that learning comes in a variety of ways. One way students can increase their knowledge of a subject is through journaling. Journaling is a learning tool that can be used in any class; it allows students to improve their writing skills, process information, and better understand a subject. Read more in this helpful article I found online.
Use these journaling strategies in your classroom to expand the learning capabilities of your students. Included are articles to teach you about each concept and lesson plans with which you can implement the strategies.
Learn how to incorporate journaling in your classroom. Teachers can use journaling as a kind of window into how students are thinking about what they are learning.
Use a double-entry journal, a graphic organizer included with this article, to encourage students to organize their thoughts on a specific subject in a new way.
This lesson, to be completed after reading The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain, has students practice their journaling skills.
Learn how to incorporate journaling in while teaching Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Teachers can use journaling as a window into how students are thinking about what they are learning.
Reflective journals are notebooks that students use when writing about their own thoughts. This encourages the development of metacognitive skills by helping students sort what they know from what they don’t know.
A dialogue journal is an informal written conversation between two or more people (student-student or student-teacher) about topics of mutual interest.
Students will demonstrate a beginning understanding of how to use dialogue journals or written conversations to express themselves in a written format by identifying previous experiences and relating them to the story.
Writing about mathematics helps students articulate their thinking, and provides useful information for teachers about learning difficulties, incorrect assumptions, and student’s progress in communicating about mathematics.
This lesson is an introduction to comparing fractions with like denominators and unlike numerators, for students with a basic understanding of fractions as part of a whole, numerators, and denominators. Students use math journals to complete the lesson.
This is an introduction to comparing fractions with unlike denominators. Students will compare fractions represented by drawings or models with unlike denominators.
ADHD and Home Schooling Children Who Are Gifted
Monday, 22 October 2007 14:46
By Mimi Rothschild
Have you ever wondered if your child has ADHD? Have you ever considered the idea that he is just extremely gifted? Learn more about children with ADHD and children who are gifted in this thorough article I read this past weekend. Let me know what you think, I appreciate your thoughts! Thanks!
ERIC EC Digest #E522, Authors: James T. Webb and Diane Latimer, 1993
Howard’s teachers say he just isn’t working up to his ability. He doesn’t finish his assignments, or just puts down answers without showing his work; his handwriting and spelling are poor. He sits and fidgets in class, talks to others, and often disrupts class by interrupting others. He used to shout out the answers to the teachers’ questions (they were usually right), but now he daydreams a lot and seems distracted. Does Howard have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is he gifted, or both?
Frequently, bright children have been referred to psychologists or pediatricians because they exhibited certain behaviors (e.g., restlessness, inattention, impulsivity, high activity level, daydreaming) commonly associated with a diagnosis of ADHD. Formally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association) lists 14 characteristics that may be found in children diagnosed as having ADHD. At least eight of these characteristics must be present, the onset must be before age seven, and they must be present for at least six months.
DSM-III-R Diagnostic Criteria for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder*
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat (in adolescents may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
Has difficulty remaining seated when required to.
Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
Has difficulty awaiting turns in games or group situations.
Often blurts out answers to questions before they have been completed.
Has difficulty following through on instructions from others (not due to oppositional behavior or failure of comprehension).
Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
Often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another.
Has difficulty playing quietly.
Often talks excessively.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into other people’s games).
Often does not seem to listen to what is being said to him or her.
Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities at school or at home (e.g., toys, pencils, books).
Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences (not for the purpose of thrill-seeking); e.g., runs into street without looking.
Almost all of these behaviors, however, might be found in bright, talented, creative, gifted children. Until now, little attention has been given to the similarities and differences between the two groups, thus raising the potential for misidentification in both areas – giftedness and ADHD.
Sometimes, professionals have diagnosed ADHD by simply listening to parent or teacher descriptions of the child’s behaviors along with a brief observation of the child. Other times, brief screening questionnaires are used, although these questionnaires only quantify the parents’ or teachers’ descriptions of the behaviors (Parker, 1992). Children who are fortunate enough to have a thorough physical evaluation (which includes screening for allergies and other metabolic disorders) and extensive psychological evaluations, which include assessment of intelligence, achievement, and emotional status, have a better chance of being accurately identified. A child may be gifted and have ADHD. Without a thorough professional evaluation, it is difficult to tell.
How Can Parents or Teachers Distinguish Between ADHD and Giftedness?
Seeing the difference between behaviors that are sometimes associated with giftedness but also characteristic of ADHD is not easy, as the following parallel lists show.
Behaviors Associated with ADHD (Barkley, 1990)
Poorly sustained attention in almost all situations.
Diminished persistence on tasks not having immediate consequences.
Impulsivity, poor delay of gratification.
Impaired adherence to commands to regulate or inhibit behavior in social contexts.
More active and restless than normal children.
Difficulty adhering to rules and regulations.
Behaviors Associated with Giftedness (Webb, 1993)
Poor attention, boredom, daydreaming in specific situations.
Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant.
Judgment lags behind development of intellect.
Intensity may lead to power struggles with authorities.
High activity level; may need less sleep.
Questions rules, customs, and traditions.
Consider the Situation and Setting
It is important to examine the situations in which a child’s behaviors are problematic. Gifted children typically do not exhibit problems in all situations. For example, they may be seen as ADHD-like by one classroom teacher, but not by another; or they may be seen as ADHD at school, but not by the scout leader or music teacher. Close examination of the troublesome situation generally reveals other factors that are prompting the problem behaviors. By contrast, children with ADHD typically exhibit the problem behaviors in virtually all settings including at home and at school, though the extent of their problem behaviors may fluctuate significantly from setting to setting (Barkley, 1990), depending largely on the structure of that situation. That is, the behaviors exist in all settings, but are more of a problem in some settings than in others.
In the classroom, a gifted child’s perceived inability to stay on task is likely to be related to boredom, curriculum, mismatched learning style, or other environmental factors. Gifted children may spend from one-fourth to one-half of their regular classroom time waiting for others to catch up – even more if they are in a heterogeneously grouped class. Their specific level of academic achievement is often two to four grade levels above their actual grade placement. Such children often respond to nonchallenging or slow-moving classroom situations by “off-task” behavior, disruptions, or other attempts at self-amusement. This use of extra time is often the cause of the referral for an ADHD evaluation.
“Hyperactive” is a word often used to describe gifted children as well as children with ADHD. As with attention span, children with ADHD have a high activity level, but this activity level is often found across situations (Barkley, 1990). A large proportion of gifted children are highly active, too. As many as one-fourth may require less sleep; however, their activity is generally focused and directed (Clark, 1992; Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan, 1982), in contrast to the behavior of children with ADHD. The intensity of gifted children’s concentration often permits them to spend long periods of time and much energy focusing on whatever truly interests them. Their specific interests may not coincide, however, with the desires and expectations of teachers or parents.
While the child who is hyperactive has a very brief attention span in virtually every situation (usually except for television or computer games), children who are gifted can concentrate comfortably for long periods on tasks that interest them, and do not require immediate completion of those tasks or immediate consequences. The activities of children with ADHD tend to be both continual and random; the gifted child’s activity usually is episodic and directed to specific goals.
While difficulty with adherence to rules and regulations has only begun to be accepted as a sign of ADHD (Barkley, 1990), gifted children may actively question rules, customs, and traditions, sometimes creating complex rules that they expect others to respect or obey. Some engage in power struggles. These behaviors can cause discomfort for parents, teachers, and peers.
One characteristic of ADHD that does not have a counterpart in children who are gifted is variability of task performance. In almost every setting, children with ADHD tend to be highly inconsistent in the quality of their performance (i.e., grades, chores) and the amount of time used to accomplish tasks (Barkley, 1990). Children who are gifted routinely maintain consistent efforts and high grades in classes when they like the teacher and are intellectually challenged, although they may resist some aspects of the work, particularly repetition of tasks perceived as dull. Some gifted children may become intensely focused and determined (an aspect of their intensity) to produce a product that meets their self-imposed standards.
What Teachers and Parents Can Do
Determining whether a child has ADHD can be particularly difficult when that child is also gifted. The use of many instruments, including intelligence tests administered by qualified professionals, achievement and personality tests, and parent and teacher rating scales, can help the professional determine the subtle differences between ADHD and giftedness. Individual evaluation allows the professional to establish maximum rapport with the child to get the best effort on the tests. Since the test situation is constant, it is possible to make better comparisons among children. Portions of the intellectual and achievement tests will reveal attention problems or learning disabilities, whereas personality tests are designed to show whether emotional problems (e.g., depression or anxiety) could be causing the problem behaviors. Evaluation should be followed by appropriate curricular and instructional modifications that account for advanced knowledge, diverse learning styles, and various types of intelligence.
Careful consideration and appropriate professional evaluation are necessary before concluding that bright, creative, intense youngsters like Howard have ADHD. Consider the characteristics of the gifted/talented child and the child’s situation. Do not hesitate to raise the possibility of giftedness with any professional who is evaluating the child for ADHD; however, do not be surprised if the professional has had little training in recognizing the characteristics of gifted/talented children (Webb, 1993). It is important to make the correct diagnosis, and parents and teachers may need to provide information to others since giftedness is often neglected in professional development programs.
*Note: “DSM-III-R Diagnostic Criteria for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is reprinted with permission from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1987.
American Psychiatric Association (1987). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third edition, revised. Washington, DC: Author.
Barkley, R. A. (1990). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment. Guilford Press: New York.
Clark, B. (1992). Growing up Gifted. New York: Macmillan.
Parker, H. C. (1992). The ADD Hyperactivity Handbook for Schools. Plantation, FL: Impact Publications.
Webb, J. T. (1993). “Nurturing social-emotional development of gifted children.” In K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks, and A. H. Passow (Eds.), International Handbook for Research on Giftedness and Talent, pp. 525-538. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Webb, J. T.; Meckstroth, E. A.; and Tolan, S. S. (1982). Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers. Dayton: Ohio Psychology Press.
This ERIC Digest was developed in 1993 by James T. Webb, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean, and Diane Latimer, M.A., School of Professional Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
Organization: Advice for Parents
Tuesday, 16 October 2007 15:26
By Mimi Rothschild
Below is a wonderful article I ran across which I wanted to share with homeschooling parents. The article looks at the importance of being organized and how organization helps people succeed in life. The strategies below are easy to implement and will help any child do well in school. I encourage all homeschooling parents to take the time to read this informative article.
Developing good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life. Although some people by nature are more organized than others, anyone can put routines and systems in place to help a child “get it together.” Here’s a list of strategies that you can use to help your child get — and keep — his life under control.
Help your child get into the habit of keeping a “to-do” list. Use checklists to post assignments, household chores, and reminders about what materials to bring to class. Your child should keep a small pad or notebook dedicated to listing homework assignments. Crossing completed items off the list will give him a sense of accomplishment.
Organize homework assignments.
Before beginning a homework session, encourage your child to number assignments in the order in which they should be done. She should start with one that’s not too long or difficult, but avoid saving the longest or hardest assignments for last.
Designate a study space.
Your child should study in the same place every night. This doesn’t have to be a bedroom, but it should be a quiet place with few distractions. All school supplies and materials should be nearby. If your young child wants to study with you nearby, too, you’ll be better able to monitor his progress and encourage good study habits.
Set a designated study time.
Your child should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework. The best time is usually not right after school — most children benefit from time to unwind first. Include your child in making this decision. Even if she doesn’t have homework, the reserved time should be used to review the day’s lessons, read for pleasure, or work on an upcoming project.
Keep organized notebooks.
Help your child keep track of papers by organizing them in a binder or notebook. This will help him review the material for each day’s classes and to organize the material later to prepare for tests and quizzes. Use dividers to separate class notes, or color-code notebooks. Separate “to do” and “done” folders help organize worksheets, notices, and items to be signed by parents, as well as provide a central place to store completed assignments.
Conduct a weekly clean-up.
Encourage your child to sort through book bags and notebooks on a weekly basis. Old tests and papers should be organized and kept in a separate file at home.
Create a household schedule.
Try to establish and stick to a regular dinnertime and a regular bedtime. This will help your child fall into a pattern at home. Children with a regular bedtime go to school well-rested. Try to limit television-watching and computer play to specific periods of time during the day.
Keep a master calendar.
Keep a large, wall-sized calendar for the household that lists the family’s commitments, schedules for extracurricular activities, days off from school, and major events at home and at school. Note dates when your child has big exams or due dates for projects. This will help family members keep track of each other’s activities and avoid scheduling conflicts.
Prepare for the day ahead.
Before your child goes to bed, he should pack schoolwork and books in a book bag. The next day’s clothes should be laid out with shoes, socks, and accessories. This will cut down on morning confusion and allow your child to prepare quickly for the day ahead.
Provide needed support while your child is learning to become more organized.
Help your child develop organizational skills by photocopying checklists and schedules and taping them to the refrigerator. Gently remind her about filling in calendar dates and keeping papers and materials organized. Most important, set a good example.
Adapted from “Tips for Developing Organizational Skills in Children” by the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities (CCLD).