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Organizing For School: The Spiral System

By Jennifer Snyder
Part Three of Three

Each week that passes Fall edges closer and closer.  School supplies have taken over large areas of retail stores and before you rush in and buy everything you bought last year, have a conversation with your student.  Ask them some serious questions about what did and did not work for them the year before.  You might be surprised.  To get you started, here a few examples:

When it came to keeping up with your school stuff last year, what do you think was the easiest for you to use?

Do you prefer a binder? Spirals? Folders?

What can I do to help you keep up with your papers and assignments?

These are far from all-inclusive, but will hopefully get you started.  After all, who knows your student better than you?

Having said that, I would like to expand on one final suggestion as an option for keeping students organized.  The Binder system and Accordion system were covered in previous articles.  This is the Spiral system.

Basically, with this system, you forego the traditional binder in favor of spiral notebooks with coordinating folders.  Remember: if you can't find coordinating folders many students are more than happy to cover their supplies in varying patterns of duct tape.  I am serious.

In the spiral (one for each class), the student will keep everything from class notes to homework assignments arranged in chronological order.  This is great for the student who remembers things chronologically or the student who loses loose papers or writes notes on any scrap of paper handy.  Here, everything is in one place.  Handouts and graded papers will live in the coordinating folder.

As described in the previous articles, color-coding (or pattern coding) is very important.  Even if your student's favorite color is blue it is very confusing if all of his supplies are blue.  Encourage the differentiation for the sake of being organized.

I would also recommend purchasing coordinating Post It notes to ride along in the backpack.  These are perfect for date reminders for things like tests and projects.   The bright square is guaranteed to get attention and serve as a handy reminder.

If you and your soon-to-be star student decide on this method, be sure to work together for the first few weeks to help him/ her get the hang of it.  Make guidelines sheet, if necessary.  Eliminate excuses before they are needed.

Note that everything for an entire year won't fit into the folders and that they should be cleared out regularly.  The spirals themselves may need to be replaced mid-year.  The folder should have two pockets: one for information worthy of studying and one for papers with answers and no questions listed.  This will help locate study materials in a cinch!

One more organizing bonus tip:

Get your student involved in the selection of school supplies.  The looks of school supplies can greatly impact how well they are used.  Even adults use organizing supplies better when they are fun and representative of our personality.  This is not the place to be frugal.

Until next time, have a NEAT day!

Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional OrganizerÒ
Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts
www.neatasapin.net

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