How to prepare your student for the school year: A letter to a parent from Sara Wiener Consulting located in Bend, Oregon.
To begin, go to Staples or Office Max for your favorite supplies. I actually prefer Staples. Have your child go with you so he or she can choose the things that that your student likes- it’s really important that your child likes what he or she is using as it will be USED more than if you choose something for your child that doesn’t thrill.
Start with a day-timer/calendar, the simpler the better. Choose one that shows a full week at a time and that has a full month view too, best if they have lines and not blank space to write in. Lines make it easier to write in. It’s critical, as your child enters higher grades, that he or she can see long-term assignments on one page if possible. So, if your child has an assignment due in three weeks, he or she can see the three week period (if it runs into the next month, that’s ok. Your son or daughter can tape them together. It’s also important that your child have a weekly calendar where there is enough lined space to write out each assignment and when it’s due. Even though the assignments may be online, I still want your child to write them into a book. It’s critical to do this task. (Out of sight, out of mind.)
I’d like your child to choose some school supplies that he or she likes- i.e. some plastic pocket folders for each class to keep papers organized. There may not be much paper when learning online but have them in case and they can always be used at a later date. Plastic ones don’t rip, tear and get dog-eared. The best are those with a clear front but they are a bit harder to find. I’m constantly looking for them.
Get pens and pencils that your child likes to use. While most of his or her work is going to be done on a device, I want your student to start taking notes on day one of classes. Regardless of whether the class is taped or live, I want your child to get back into the habit of taking notes during every class. Those should be done on paper and put into the folders. Have your child choose paper he or she likes. Some like narrow ruled pater, some prefer wide ruled. Some like spiral bound and other like loose leaf. Spirals for each class keep notes organized and in one place. Loose leaf papers, if not put away in their respective folders asap can get lost and folded and you know…..
I believe in using pens and paper you love and writing things down as much as possible to keep track of assignments and notes. Perhaps some highlighters are also good to have, and some sticky notes and tabs. I can give you more day plans and week plans if you want some.
Next, in order for your child to have a “sacred study space” as Seth Perler suggests, he or she needs to have a desk that your child can work on that doesn’t collect other stuff on it, is not in a place of distraction such as a room used for gaming and other stuff, i.e. their bed. Other than the dining room table, is there a desk like surface your child can use? If not, that’s ok. He or she can still use the dining table but we have to set up some way of making it his or her own space. It needs to have their special pens and pencils, paper and calendar and his device on it. They have to live there. They can’t be taken away and put back up every time another meal is served. This is your child’s study space and his or hers alone. No one can put their mail on it or throw a sweater on it. Your student needs to have the tools he or she uses everyday on it, i.e. a cup to hold his or her writing implements, perhaps a shelf or a box that holds your child’s books that need to be accessed readily.
You may want to buy your child a desk organizer if the child thinks that is necessary. Probably not, but if he or she wants one and thinks it will help, try it. We want to alleviate any possible reason for your child to not be successful. Let’s set your child up for success from the get-go, whatever it takes.
One last thing- do you think your child will need any sort of partition to help him or her stay focused in their sacred study space? Just a thought, whether it’s a full-on five foot high folding wall or a little cardboard stand that sits on the desk to block out visual distractions.
We should talk about what is acceptable to listen to on head phones while studying if that is something that your child likes to do. He or she may but may not be choosing what we think of as appropriate study music.
Lastly, there will need to be a family meeting in order to discuss the new normal rules and expectations for the beginning of this new school year. How much time on screens is appropriate other than school related stuff? Ask how much time is he or she doing gaming online with friends and are there time zones- i.e. until 10pm if all work has been done and accounted for, etc. etc. Setting up expectations and accountabilities from the start with you and your child will help get the new school year started on the right foot.
To learn more executive function strategies please follow our blog. If you’d like to ask me questions about how to organize your home and your stuff contact Sara Wiener Consulting located in Bend, Oregon at firstname.lastname@example.org.