Member of:


Article for Visions Magazine, July Issue

Published Articles Archive

How organized is your student?

Believe it or not, most students will begin the school year in August. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to write about student organizing. Every parent would love to have an organized student. Why? An organized student:

  • can accomplish more in less time
    is able to keep track of assignments and turn them in on time
    can plan ahead and know how to start complex long term projects
    carries less in their back packs
    they have a system in place at home where they can do homework and keep their school papers
    they are less stressed

Doesn’t this sound delightful? However, no kid is perfect and no student can be that "in control".  However, a little help with getting their systems set up and creating a way that they can be better organized will allow them to have better control over their space, time, and school work.

In the book, "The Organized Student", by Donna Goldberg, she talks about how a parent set up a system for her daughter that was very logical and easy for the parent.  In a very short amount of time, the parent realized that her daughter wasn’t using the neatly compiled folders and dividers.  It made no sense what-so-ever to her daughter.  The student needs to participate in creating the solutions so that he/she can use them and maintain them.  There is no set way to be organized.  There is no "quick fix". Find the areas that are working (everyone has some part of their lives that is organized) and why.  Then you can start the process to improve the areas that seem to be the snag.

Due to the fact that there are three styles of learning, you need to find the style of learning that works well for the student For example: the visual learner may want everything color coded and the auditory learner needs to have an explanation of how and why this system may or may not work.  Physically setting up the systems, talking about it, and continuing to work with them until they have had a chance to implement it or try it out so to speak, are all part of the process.  Not only do students need help with the physical organizing –the locker, backpack and space at home, but they also need help with time management or cerebral organization.  Helping the student to create a system for their backpack, locker and their schedule are all connected and important.

If you are concerned about how well your child is performing in school, disorganization may be a part of the problem.  Keep in mind that just because they have a messy room doesn’t mean that they are disorganized.  Some of the things to look for in a disorganized student:

  • Loses papers
    Late assignments
    A back pack over stuffed with random items and loose papers or virtually empty
    Projects are done at the last minute
    Frequent melt downs and late night panics over school work
    Lots of time spent looking for stuff
    Frequent loss or forgetting of books and notes required to complete assignments

Advances in technology, overloaded schedules, and changes in family structure can all have an effect on a student’s performance. There is a pervasive sense of pressure from adults and peers.  Kids are drowning in papers, handouts and printouts and some students have, in effect, up to eight bosses.  You can’t change all at once.  Once the organizing process is started, you will most likely see immediate results.  However, remember that it is an on going process and it takes time, dedication and a lot of support.  But helping the student to be better organized can help them to be more independent, responsible and successful, not just in school but in life as a whole.

Being organized is not something that you are born with but a skill that can be learned. Teaching your kids how to keep their papers and assignments in order is teaching them life time skills.

The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has identified student organizing as being important enough to merit a program that professional organizers can present in the classroom.  It is a program being created for all grade levels and will help professional organizers teach organizing concepts and skills.  Due to the fact that student organizing is one of my services, I have seen first hand how being better organized can have a significant impact on a student’s success.  Start the school year off by helping them create a system for keeping track of their papers at home, setting up their lockers so they use them and their back packs so they don’t become the dreaded black hole.  Have a great school year.


About the author

Betsy Peterson is a local Professional Organizer, Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist and owner of Space and Time, LLC.

She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO0.  In addition to assisting in clearing away the clutter and organizing areas of the home and office, she specializes in downsizing and staging (preparing a home for sale).  Betsy can be reached for questions at (865) 207-7295 or e-mail at


© 2006 Space and Time, LLC.           PO Box 4235, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831          (865) 207-7295