6Th Grader Needs to Get Organized

Updated on December 02, 2010
D.C. asks from College Station, TX
9 answers

My 11-year-old is now in 6th Grade and is has had a problem with staying organized between home and school. I've wracked my brain and I've asked him about what he thinks would work. But we are still 1) forgetting project assignments, 2) avoiding project or essay assignments, and 3) forgetting to get announcements to me out of his backpack!

We have tried the school planner which is in a nice weekly "calendar" form but it's big and I have to remember to tell him he has to drag it out of the middle of the binder in the middle of his full backpack. LOL

What other ideas might we try? What has worked for others in a similar situation?

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So What Happened?

First I want to thank you all for chiming in. I have come to the conclusion that I will give a tool to my son, have him try it, and switch to something else if that one doesn't work out. I recognize that some plan and reward for using the tool (post its, note pad, wallet folder, whatever) will need to be implemented. He could use some "Mom and me" (or "Dad and me") time (away from his two brothers)! LOL

More Answers



answers from San Antonio on

My youngest is slowly working out of chaos and into order. It's a slow process in some boys, especially.
You can get him the calendars and the organizers and study supplies, but he has to have desire to use it and remember.
A teacher once suggested to us to find one special "goal" he would work for and together create a plan. Just an example: 2 weeks of remembered homework and good reports from teachers means a movie for your son and a friend over the weekend! or something like that.
Work with the teachers where he is having the most problems and let them know you are working on this at home, and you will be checking in with them to see if there is progress. Some of those teachers might have good ideas, too!!!
6th graders brains go on vacation for a while....teachers can be helpful.
Seek their help and give them a really nice Christmas gift!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

These are suggestions I give to my middle school students & parents:

1. The planner will work. I often have them "jazz" it up a bit with a big clip to mark the current week, then they don't have to flip through so many pages to get to what needs to be done.

2. Post-its!! Stick them in the planner, on papers, on books, whatever!! Little reminder notes help.

3. Even though it is a more elementary thing to do, I've found a strictly homework folder works. The child should put all things needing to go home in it throughout the day. Most kids are used to this from younger grades anyway. Then, there is one place to check every night.

4. Daily cleansing... meaning, clean out backpack, folders, etc. daily. Annoying, I know, but it does help disorganized kids.

5. If anyone finds the secret to solving procrastination, please let me know!! :) However, if at all possible, help your son find something that he either loves to do the projects about OR something within the given assignment that interests him. If you're interested, you're more inclined to work on it.

6. Praise, encouragement, patience... and LOTS of it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter is the same. Smart girl, good grades, but highly disorganized. I enrolled her in a middle school that forces them to use their planners daily, as opposed to just handing them out and *suggesting* they use them. And her school has a very detailed web site for each class and assignment so I can check up on her daily to make sure she hasn't "forgotten" anything, and there are no surprises at conference time. Her locker and room are a huge mess, and every time I am at the school I find several of her things in the lost and found. Still somehow she gets mostly all A's, so as long as her grades stay up, I'm trying to let the lack of organization go. Either that or she's going to suffer the natural consequences and not like the results.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hmm..not sure, but I know I have one of the most "situationally unaware" kids on the planet! Whrn she hit middle school I worried so much aobut her keeping things together..with all the going form classroom to classroom all over the shcool (where before it was a small elementary school and any switching was in one small hallway really, etc).

But they requested/required all the kids to have one of those accordian file binder things you can get at any office aisle cheap. We did that and lo-and-behold, it worked for her. She shoved it all in there at first, then actually put things in their right slots..and the school calendar book they got fit in as well. I pushed for her to use that and by the end of the year we made alot of progress..but I had to be ON HER every single day.

Now she is in 11th grade and goes to special Arts High School that she worked very hard to get into and is very like College Prep, so she is responsible for alot more (no bells ring for class times, etc)..and she does great!

Maybe you need to set aside some time each night..same time..be firm on it for both of your sakes, to pull it out of the big full backpack and go thru it. Set up his habits now so they are in place later when they are really crucial to have. With my daughter it was so frustrating..still is..for me, as I was one of those kids with their desk..then locker, micro-organized. I still do that with my purse and other areas that are just mine....its a curse! LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

When my kids were in middle school they were encouraged to use a color system. Math was red - red bookcover, red notebook, red folder, etc.

Pick one or two days each week that are considered "clean out backpack days". Sit down together and go thru it. You'll find those notices he never gave you.

The school planners are nice and he should be encouraged to use it. However, planners just don't work well for some people. He needs to find what works for him. I know you may ask him, but I'm sure he truly doesn't know. It's a trial and error process. Below are some suggestions....

Have a "bring home", "homework", "important" folder. It's strictly for notices, permission slips, homework. Each night you go through it together. Have some blank paper in the center so he can write down homework assignments.

Set up a calender or white board in his room, or the kitchen where he can see it and write important due dates. For example, Monday he comes home with instructions for a science project due on Friday. Make a big note - "Science Project Due".

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am looking forward to reading your responses as I feel as though I am looking into a crystal ball showing my future! Son is now in 2nd and is also (like the PP said) "situationally unaware" and sooooo disorganized! pray for me and I'll pray for you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I was an "organizationally challenged" kid and a procrastinator.... ok, I'm still a procrastinator! When I was around 6th grade we had the school planner and my mom and my teachers decided that the best thing was for me to write everything in my planner and my teacher had to sign it at the end of the day (or the period, if we were changing classes) to assure that I had written everything down.

When I got home from school my mom would go through my planner with me and pull out all of my papers, etc. Then my mom had to sign my planner after I showed her all of my completed homework and papers. Phew! What a nightmare for my mom! BUT, it was so embarrassing for me to be getting my teachers signature EVERY DAY that I worked really hard to keep up and be allowed to stop doing it.

This was 18 years ago, but it may just still work! Now the procrastination... I have no solution for!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

There was a question like this just a week or two here.
I regret to tell you but, for now, I think you need to be in charge in this area. It's probably beyond his ability to take care of this himself.

So . . . . you create a system,
perhaps a check-off list, perhaps a chart.
You meet with him every morning, every evening,
and go through the whole shebang, item by item.

Don't expect him to remember anything.
Although after a few weeks or months of this partnership,
he MAY begin to take some of the responsibility himself.

Create an awards system to encourage him to move toward taking increasing responsibility gradually.

Good luck.


answers from Houston on

My son has high-functioning autism and we have had to learn many coping mechanisms in this area. I use a 7 pocket file wallet for his planner and all his homework/take-home papers. The planner has a home pocket, and each class has a pocket labeled for it. The wallet I use also has a zip pouch for pencils so I can check to make sure he has at least a couple of pencils and a pen each morning. We go through the wallet every evening. In middle school, you just have to do that. This helps with the problem of 1) remembering the planner and 2) having trouble getting it out every day. If your teachers don't already have a homework center website of some sort, start emailing the teachers every Monday about the homework expectations for that week. This is only for backup, in case your son doesn't remember to write something down. At our school, the teachers write down the homework assignments on the board which can be seen at the beginning of class, so the kids can write down the homework as soon as they get into the class while they're settling in. You might suggest this to your son's teachers if they are not already doing this.

Good luck!

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