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Organization for Teens Learning Remotely

With many middle and high school students still attending school remotely, now might be the time to brush up on (or finally create) online school organization for your teens.

Start the Night Before

Just as you would for in-person school, go over everything the night before. Put the school materials where they need to be for the next morning. My daughters set up their work spaces in the evenings. During the day, items are pushed to the side, books travel throughout the house, and empty cups litter the area. This weekend, that workspace collected a half-finished puzzle, a paper plate with food remains, and an assortment of junk scattered about. That’s not a productive work environment. Each school night, it’s cleaned off and prepared for the next day. ​

Pack a lunch. While this sounds odd because they’re at home, it’s a time saver for you and the kids. When my daughters have to pack a lunch at night, it takes them about 2 minutes. When we don’t plan ahead, right around lunchtime they take an indefinite learning break and turn the kitchen into a culinary school. I receive 23 texts in the span of 3 minutes. They all start with, “Where’s the…. or Do we have….” Their cordon blue efforts take at least 45 minutes and leave the kitchen in shambles. ​

The night before, go over what time they will be getting up. That effects bedtime, as well, since they need to get the right amount of sleep. Who will wake them up? What will they wear? Is it an A or B day? What’s the breakfast plan? Plan ahead for a smoother morning start. ​

Use a Calendar

Use whatever calendar works best for your child, but show them how to actually use that calendar. A friend’s teen dutifully wrote each assignment in her calendar, but missed several due dates. Her mother then realized that the child was writing the assignment down on the day it was assigned, rather than the day it was due. Our years of experience trick us into thinking that some things are common sense, but that’s not always the case. Her mother told her the importance of keeping an assignment calendar, and she did. Never being in this position, however, she simply didn’t know where to write the assignments. ​

Use what works for your home and your child. If it’s not working, change it. You may see the most amazing organizational systems on Pinterest, but if it doesn’t work for your child, it’s useless. It doesn’t need to be pretty or time-consuming. It needs to be functional. ​

Encourage Online Best-Practices

Since I have an online job, I know how to check email, read and respond appropriately, and place each email in a folder. My teens know none of this. They can run circles around me with newer technology, but email has not been a part of their lives. Until now. They need to be taught that it’s important to check email, read through the messages, and respond appropriately. Being a student is a profession, so an email to a teacher is a professional communication. Professional emails do not use texting shorthand or slang. Explain how to address a teacher and the importance of including their class period, as a secondary teacher may have hundreds of students. ​

​Make a folder for each class, subject, or teacher, and show your child how to move messages to the correct folders. Do the same thing for their assignments. Create folders on the desktop and show them how to save or move files directly to those folders. ​

​While your teenager’s online learning may soon come to an end, these organization methods will transfer well to college and the workplace. It’s not too soon to be rehearsing best practice techniques.

University of Arizona Global Campus/Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education

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