Secondary Organization (6-12): Starting the Year Off Right

Friday, October 1, 2021

Secondary Organization (6-12): Starting the Year Off Right

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A Guide For Parents and Families

Middle and high school are no joke! Students are transitioning classes, have multiple teachers, and are learning between 4 and 7 subjects at one time! Organization really starts to suffer at the start of middle school, and it makes so much sense! Read on to learn some simple ways to stay organized.

The Big Binder (TM)

Keeping important papers and information for your classes in one place is key! To do this, the best organization system I’ve found that works for most students is the Big Binder. Some schools may already require students use one central binder for all of their classes, especially if they are an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) school. Regardless, being able to find everything you need by looking in one place is so helpful. However, purchasing a binder is only the first step.

  1. Start the year off by purchasing TWO BIG BINDERS. One should be carried around with you all year long. The other should be kept at home and is where you will store the notes and materials that you are no longer using each day. For example, at the end of the first marking period, you’ll want to transfer all of your materials into your stay at home binder. This way your notes are there to refer back to, but won’t take up space in your binder for new material.

  2. Most teachers forget to hole punch their materials, so purchasing a good, sturdy hole-punch, like this one, will be super helpful. These can get heavy to carry around, so one tip is to leave this at home and use it during your organization time.

  3. You will need dividers. Purchase dividers with folders, like these, so you can temporarily store any papers that haven’t been hole-punched yet. Be sure to purchase enough so that each class can have a section in your binder.

  4. Label each tab with the FULL name of the class, and put them in the order that you have class each day. For example, if your schedule is English 1st period, followed by Algebra, followed by Biology, label the tabs in that order for ease.

  5. Grab a pencil case for your binder. In it, be sure to always have 2 pencils, 2 pens, a highlighter and an eraser.

  6. Put everything you need for each class IN that section of your binder. If your teacher requires the use of a notebook, and plans to review your notebook for accuracy/completeness, then purchase a notebook with three holes to stick in your binder. Take it out of your binder during each class though, taking notes with those big rings gets mighty difficult. If your teacher requires a composition notebook, use a big rubber band to keep it in your binder. Otherwise, have hole-punched notebook paper available for each class.

Organization Time

Buying the essentials above is just the first step. Ongoing organization and work is needed to be sure you can stay on top of everything and maintain a sense of calm.

  1. Spend 10-15 minutes each day going through your binder and backpack in search of any loose paper.

  2. Hole-punch any paper and put it in the correct spot in your binder.

  3. Go through each section and determine if anything can be taken out. (Don’t throw anything away!) Place notes and materials from old units into your stay at home binder. Be sure to keep this stay at home binder organized as well!

  4. Review your notes. At the end of each day, go back and review and organize your notes. The more frequently you do this, the more it will become rote memory for you and you will able to do it quicker and quicker. Plus, when it comes time for a test, everything will be ready for studying.

  5. Spend 5 minutes preparing for the next day by placing any homework right in the front of your section so you won’t forget to turn it in.

Using a Planner/Agenda

A planner or an agenda is a great way to ensure you know what you need to do each night when you get home. For many students, it’s difficult to remember what you need to do for each class at the end of the day, so it’s best to write it down! Keep your agenda on your desk and open to the current day and class period so you can write down any important information including:

  • Homework for that evening.

  • Long term project due dates.

  • Upcoming tests or quizzes.

  • Reminders for field trips, paperwork, sports try-outs, etc.

Try out Viinko! Viinko is an online agenda that helps your child learn time management and organization skills, and help your child stay on track. Plus, you can sign up for their coaching services and get specialized assistance.

Keep your eyes peeled for a longer blog about how best to use your agenda. Be sure to check it EVERY DAY. Communicate with your family that this is a strategy you want to try and ask them to help you remain accountable. A good agenda that I like to recommend for middle and high school students is here.

Download our PK-12 Organization Checklists HERE!

What are your organization tips? Comment below!

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