Students with weak organizational skills, attention issues, or an executive function disability benefit from structured routines and organizational tools.

She lost her pencil again and cannot find her notebook. He forgot to give his parents the note about the field trip and his homework frequently is left in his desk at the end of the day. Lack of organizational skills are not only frustrating for teachers and parents but can make it difficult for the student to succeed at school.

Organizational skills are important for success both at school and in life. For some students, especially those with attention issues or weak executive function, it requires learning organizational techniques as part of a routine that is initially supported by both parents and teachers.

Organizational Tools for Students

A take-home folder and an assignment notebook are both common organizational tools implemented by teachers. The take-home folder provides one pocket for to-do work and one for done, giving students a place to put homework and know when they finish it. The assignment notebook is commonly used in middle or high school and provides a full page per day, divided into different subjects with space for assignments to be written.

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But those two organizational tools are frequently not enough for students with organizational difficulties. Another tool that can help are to maintain a specific binder or folder for each subject that is divided into sections for categories such as notes, assignments, and tests. Students can compare this binder or folder to a master version kept by the classroom teacher. Checklists for projects, writing requirements, and even daily routines provide a tool students can use to make sure they remember all the details.

Develop Organization as a Routine

These tools are often enough for many students, but those with attention deficits or executive function weakness need to learn to make the tool part of a routine. This requires assistance from parents as well as teachers.

In the classroom, the teacher can develop classroom routines. With an assignment notebook a routine such as posting homework and bringing the class attention to it at a specific time in the day is a start, but reminders of writing it down and using it as a checklist for materials that are needed for home help. It also helps to tell students to take out their subject binder or folder and which division to place the paper, or provide a checklist for each paper that should be in each section and an opportunity to both check their binder against the checklist and obtain a copy of any missing work.