How to Teach Your Middle-Schooler Organization Skills

By Amanda Morin
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When kids go to middle school, they have more homework than when they were younger. Their social calendars also get busier. To manage these demands, they need to learn organizational skills and how to prioritize time.

Here are some ways to teach your middle-schooler organization.

1. Teach how to divide and conquer.

  • Goal: Keep deadlines for long-term projects from creeping up.

  • Example: Using a calendar, show your child how doing a little work each day can help get projects done.

2. Organize to-do lists in a logical order.

  • Goal: Have less stress when there’s lots to do.

  • Example: Tasks and chores can be organized by due date—or by time needed or by how hard (or easy) they are. Just putting a list in order can help your child feel more in control.

3. Have a front-door “go” box.

  • Goal: Have everything your child needs for school at the door.

  • Example: Designate a place for items your child needs to remember for school: backpack, projects, gym clothes—or an eraser!

4. Color-code tasks.

  • Goal: Prioritize chores and messages by color.

  • Example: Your child might use red sticky notes for important tasks and green ones for things that have to be done by the end of the week.

5. Use a whiteboard.

  • Goal: Make things easier to visualize.

  • Example: With a big whiteboard, your child can make to-do lists, map out thoughts for an assignment, or just write down things to remember.

6. Set a weekly backpack cleaning day.

  • Goal: Get rid of clutter and save important items.

  • Example: Clearing out old papers, leftover snacks, and pencil stubs once a week can make it easier for your child to find things.

7. Keep track of time.

  • Goal: Help your child plan better.

  • Example: Have your child write down start and end times for chores or homework for a couple weeks. This can help your child figure out how to budget time in the future.

Do you need more organization ideas? Get tips on how color-coding can help. Explore simple tools to help teens get organized. And check out smartphone solutions for organization.

About the Author

About the Author

Amanda Morin 

worked as a classroom teacher and as an early intervention specialist for 10 years. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education. Two of her children have learning differences.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Sheldon H. Horowitz, EdD 

is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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