How to teach your high-schooler organization skills

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT

To become more independent, teens need to learn how to organize and prioritize what’s happening in their lives. This is an important step as they get ready for college or the workplace.

Here are some ways you can help your high-schooler learn organization skills.

1. Teach multiple ways to prioritize.

  • Goal: Find organizational tools that fit your teen’s needs and skills.
  • Example: Projects can be organized by due date — or by time needed or how hard (or easy) they are.

2. Teach how to divide and conquer.

  • Goal: Keep deadlines for long-term projects from creeping up.
  • Example: Show your teen how to break projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. Use cue words like “first,” “next,” and “last” to help categorize the tasks.

3. Designate a place for study materials.

  • Goal: Teach your child to keep all needed tools in one place.
  • Example: Encourage your teen to keep pens, paper, computer, calculators, dictionaries, and other supplies together. No more hunting for an eraser!

4. Model organization skills.

  • Goal: Learn how to be organized by seeing the skills in action.
  • Example: Keep a family calendar and a to-do list to model planning ahead and making lists.

5. Use a whiteboard.

  • Goal: Make things easier to visualize.
  • Example: Your child can make to-do lists, map out thoughts for an assignment, or just write down things to remember.

6. Give your teen a planner.

  • Goal: Encourage kids to manage their own schedule.
  • Example: With a digital or paper planner, your child can keep track of where to be and when. Your child can practice arranging and rearranging available time.

7. Ask about the plan of attack.

  • Goal: Make sure your teen knows how to prioritize the steps for getting an assignment done.
  • Example: Don’t assume your teen knows how to get an assignment done. Ask for an explanation of the plan. You can help refine it, as needed.

About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.