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5 Tips For Keeping Teens Organized and Focused

Being organized is one of the keys to success. Unfortunately, these skills do not come naturally to all of us, especially not to children. Often, children must be taught organizational skills. By the time children hit their tween years, skills that help them focus and prioritize are a must as they become more independent both at home and at school.
My oldest daughter is in her final year of middle school. It was quite a transition for her and for our entire family when she began middle school two years ago. Her work load increased, the pressures of succeeding academically and socially were greater, and she was expected to be independent and self-reliant. A big change from elementary school.
Within the first week of school we realized that our child, who required constant micro-managing, desperately needed to learn some basic organizational skills in order to thrive in middle school.
Here are 5 steps that we took to ensure that our daughter could focus on the tasks at hand while prioritizing and organizing other areas of her life such as her after school activities and social calendar.
1. Organize Assignments
My daughter's school provides each student with a planner so that they can keep all of their daily assignments written down in a central place. Planners are a great way to record school work, after school activities, social events, and family time. Planners can be digital or paper. The important thing is that they will help your child manage his or her time and set realistic expectations and goals for each day.
2. De-Clutter
Kids are hoarders. Well, mine are anyway. They keep EVERYTHING. From a small scrap of paper to an enormous school project, it can be found lingering in a backpack or under the bed. Deciding what to keep and what to trash is often difficult for adults. Imagine how overwhelming it can be for children. Teach your children which items they should keep and which ones can be tossed. Be sure that the documents that are kept are properly stored and organized so that they can be easily accessed when needed.
3. Prepare the Night Before
There is nothing worse than trying to get out the door in the morning only to find a child standing in front of his closet deciding on an outfit to wear. Avoid last minute decisions by prepping the night before. Have your children choose their clothes the night before. Pack up backpacks and lunch boxes and review that homework is complete and all necessary items are in place for the following day.
Go over the day's activities the night before and be sure to pack accordingly.
4. Strike a Balance Between Work and Play
Even as adults we know that there is a time for work and a time for play. They are both necessary for enjoying a well-balanced life, but each has a time. Help your child by aiding him or her in prioritizing study time, after school activities and sitting down to dinner with the family.
5. Hold a Weekly Meeting
On Sunday nights prior to sitting down to dinner, we gather to go over the schedule for the week ahead. We have so much going on during the week (gymnastics, CCD, after school clubs, Girl Scouts, etc.) that these weekly meetings keep everyone well informed, and they give us a chance to be sure we have transportation arranged for everyone so we are not scurrying at the last moment.
Teaching children to be organized is just as important as it is for adults. Not only will excellent organizational skills help them in their formative years, but those skills will help them long into adulthood.

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