Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5 Ways to Organize Your High School Student

I thought these were great ideas not only for high school, but to start working on now.


It's never too early to begin gathering information about homeschooling through high school. Regardless of our children's future dreams and aspirations--whether they want to graduate and begin missionary work, own their own businesses, learn a trade, or attend college, for many homeschooling parents, homeschooling through high school seems daunting. However, with the impressive selection of high school curricula and resources on the market, the explosion of online classes, and the increasing overall support, homeschooling high school is not as tough as you think!

One mom shares her tips for organizing a high school student. Even if high school is still a few years off for your family, you'll want to keep this list as a reference.


5 Ways to Organize Your High School Student
by Susan Spann

1. Planner up! Make or give your student his or her own day planner, preferably one with hourly divisions. Let the student mark independent study time, and periodically transfer that record to your own master planner. Not only will your student learn to track and organize time, but an individual planner also fosters independence and responsibility.

2. Clock in, clock out-always have a clock about; Older students should have a clock or timepiece available in every room they use for school or study. Teach them to pay attention to the times they start and stop studying, as well as how much work they achieve in each session. Don't put inappropriate pressure or emphasis on speed; the timing technique is designed to help your student learn his or her standard pace and estimate the time required to complete a given task. Knowing this makes it easier to schedule time--a major component of an organized day!

3. Set Aside "My Space". Middle and high schoolers have more books, papers, and projects than elementary students, along with a growing need for personal space. Give your student a special place, separate from and inaccessible to younger siblings, to store books and other course work. A personal desk with cubbies or shelves works best, but creative solutions work too! Consider one shelf on a bookcase, a drawer in a filing cabinet, or even a milk crate turned sideways. Let your student organize and maintain the space in his or her own way. Encourage neatness, but leave room for your student to develop an individual method of organization.

4. Color Coordinate. Let your teen pick a color for each subject and mark or label related materials with matching colors. For example, if the English book has a blue cover, use a blue spiral notebook for essays and blue divider tabs to mark English assignments in three-ring binders (or a blue binder, if you have one for English alone). Removable colored stickers can also mark books, bindings, and folders.

5. Teach academic organization. Don't assume your teens automatically know how to organize! You taught them to clean their rooms--help them learn to clean their academic houses. Talk about using separate notebooks (or separate sections) for different subjects, and talk about keeping each subject's notes, flashcards, books, and tests together. Mixing everything up leads to confusion and costs precious minutes that could be spent in study--or recreation.

Bonus Tip: If your student has trouble figuring out how to highlight or underline important information in textbooks, consider the use of multiple colors to help with organization. For example, underline new words or definitions in red, critical facts in yellow, and important people or places in blue. Not only will this help your student focus on the kind of information he or she underlines, but finding the right passage is a snap the second time around! If you don't or can't permit writing on the pages, colored Post-it Notes serve the same purpose without creating permanent marks.

Susan Spann, Senior Contibuting WriterSusan Spann is a partner in the law firm Llewellyn Spann, where she specializes in copyright, trademark, and corporate law. Formerly a professor at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, California, she currently teaches business law at William Jessup University. She blogs on legal issues from a Christian worldview at

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