Teaching organization

8 Simple Tools to Help Your Teen Get Organized

By Amanda Morin

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Helping your teen get organized doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There are simple organization solutions and tools that can help keep schoolwork and belongings organized. Here are a few to consider.

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Teen girl lying on her bed at home checking her school planner
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A Planner

Your teen’s academic and social calendar gets busier. An academic planner combines a calendar with an assignment notebook. A good planner usually has a weekly view, a column for each day and a list of classes on the side. Having a monthly view, too, can help give your child a broader look at what has to get done. Your teen also might find it useful to have a large family calendar hung in the kitchen, so that all of the events are visible for the month.

Teen girl with a backpack standing outside school
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A Multi-Compartment Backpack

A sturdy backpack with many compartments and pockets can really help with organization. Try to find one with two to three large sections—one for books, one for notebooks and one for personal items. The zippered pockets can hold smaller school supplies.

Teen boy walking outside school building checking the time on his phone
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A Watch or Stopwatch

Having a way to keep track of time and set alarms as reminders is key in helping your teen get organized. Using a stopwatch to time an activity is a good way to help your child learn how much time to budget the next time around. (Of course, most cell phones have a stopwatch and a built-in alarm.)

Teen girl standing outside school checking her notes
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Colored Pocket Folders and Single-Subject Notebooks

Assigning a color to each class or subject is a quick, inexpensive way to organize things visually. Help your teen choose different colors for each class. Try to match the color of the textbook covers, if possible. You might want to consider plastic folders—they tend to be more durable than paper folders.

Teen girl working working on homework on her bed
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Colored Dot Stickers and Sticky Notes

These organizational tools can be used with a color-coded notebook system for school or for organizing at home. Place colored dots or sticky notes on dresser drawers to color-code what goes in each drawer. They can be also be placed in the corner of school handouts to help your teen remember which subject they’re for. And they can be used to prioritize homework, such as using red to mean “due tomorrow” and green for “due next week.”

Teen using color coded highlighters & colored pens to study
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Colored Pencils and Highlighters

Colored pencils and highlighters can be useful tools for organizing notes and drafts. When studying, your teen can use one color to highlight or underline main ideas and another to highlight supporting details.

Close-up of a file folder with tabs marked
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Accordion Files

Accordion files can be used in a number of different ways. Your teen can use one to store and transport school notebooks and folders. Also, they can be used to store mail, chargers for electronics and other things that clutter up teens’ rooms.

Teen boy studying at home on his bed using a laptop and a 3-ring binder
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Three-Hole Punch, Stapler and Paper Clips

The point is for your teen to have easy access to tools that’ll keep papers attached and where they belong. It’s easy to lose classroom handouts if they can’t be put into a three-ring binder. It’s also easy to turn in half a paper or math homework without scratch paper if there isn’t a way to hold the pages together.

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About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Jenn Osen Foss

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

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