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Any tips on helping a disorganised child get organised at secondary?

(55 Posts)
racingheart Fri 30-Aug-13 22:22:21

DS2 about to start secondary and is a bit of a dreamer. He forgot something almost every day at primary school - homework, clothes, kit, forms, none of it came home on the right day and even if he did homework he was proud of, he often took it to school then forgot to hand it in.

At his secondary, I'm told teachers are much tougher on disorganisation. It's also a long way from where we live, so I can't drop by and deliver anything left at home.

Any tips on helping them focus, especially when they are at school would be really useful. I can help him check when he's at home, but it's that end of the day moment when he has to run for a train and will be chatting with friends that makes me concerned.

educatingarti Sat 31-Aug-13 21:41:58

An extract from this website

Some typical problems in school include:

difficulties following long instructions
finds planning and organising work a challenge
personal organisation can be problematic
difficulty copying text from book or whiteboard
variable ability – better some days than others and may get tired more easily
low self-esteem and frustration, which will sometimes result in disruptive behaviour
difficulty in ball sports
difficulty writing at speed or drawing neatly
slower getting changed for games lessons.

If you find his problems are persisting beyond the first few weeks and he is getting into a lot of trouble ( despite trying hard) or getting upset and frustrated, it might be worth seeing your GP to get a referral for a dyspraxia assessment. Depending on how severe they deem him to be and the area you live in it may lead to some support via an OT but also a report saying he is dyspraxic may help him to realise it isn't his fault he finds these things hard and may help the school to realise they need to be supportive!

racingheart Sat 31-Aug-13 23:51:11

Thank you so much educatingarti. He ticks seven of those boxes. Maybe I'd better get him a referral.

luxemburgerli Sun 01-Sep-13 06:50:00

Something that helped me at high school was securing an A5 envelope onto the back cover of my planner. I then put all the little bits of paper I needed to take home (letters, merits, etc) into this and they were not lost and easy to check.

Some people also attached a pen to the planner, with string, so that things could be written down easily.

Maybe some planners have something like this already!

breadandbutterfly Sun 01-Sep-13 12:27:28

If your dc doesn't have an obvious place to put school stuff eg a clear shelf, drawer etc, I'd recommend getting them a specific container - eg large plastic box etc, to put any of their school stuff you find lying around the house so it can easily be located. So whenever my dd would go 'Has anyone seen my geography book/homework planner/note/etc etc?' the answer was always 'look in the box!'.

It helped us with dc1 - am about to get another box for dc2 starting secondary school this week.

Think roisin's tips are great - esp no 6 - wish I'd done that as it would have saved me a lot of money!

racingheart Sun 01-Sep-13 13:10:28

Brilliant. OK, from your tips I have:

- Got a big storage box that will stay on the hall table into which all school things will go.

- Gone through his room and massively decluttered so it is easier to find things

and will

- Chat to teacher

-Make sure his planner has pen and folder attached

Thanks for all the brilliant, helpful ideas.

Vatta Sun 01-Sep-13 13:31:19

Racingheart just to say its really worthwhile seeing your gp for a dyspraxia referral, lots of support and suggestions available once you identify this issue!

BalloonSlayer Sun 01-Sep-13 16:59:41

Similar to breadandbutterfly I have a nice looking office in-tray in the kitchen, next to the kitchen table, in which all DS1's schoolbooks live. God only knows what would happen to them if he took them up to his bedroom. DD is starting this year and she has one too.

It works very well as DS1 takes his bag off the peg and comes in and sorts out the stuff for the day very efficiently - far more so than I expected.

It helps if the table is clear . . . DS has taken his pencil case/diary out of the bag to put books in then not put it back in again because he hasn't "seen" it on the cluttered table.

I don't worry about making DS wear a coat. He always loses it. The first time he lost it, after several weeks of nagging him to look for it, I was only able to motivate him to find it again by saying that he would have to pay to replace it, and confiscating some of his Christmas money "to buy a new one." He found it the next day! Last winter it was -4 and I felt bad that he went off to the bus without a coat. However I comforted myself that if he had worn a coat that day he would not have had a coat to wear the following day, as it would have been left at school.

BalloonSlayer Sun 01-Sep-13 17:05:44

Oh and I would add, you might want to think about:

- getting a few copies of his locker key made so you don't have to go through a great big rigmarole with the school if he loses it

- taking a photocopy of his timetable so that he has a copy at home if he loses his diary/planner

- check his pencil case from time to time to make sure he still has some pens/pencils etc. Make him pay to replace them by all means but you'd be amazed at how they lose stuff, and it's a shock when you look into what once was a well-stocked pencil case and suddenly realise that it's YOUR DC who is the "I ain't got no pen, Miss" child.

MortifiedAdams Sun 01-Sep-13 17:08:05

Do yourself a copy of his timetable for the fridge.

Have him pack his back and put it next to the front door every evening. You can surrupticiously (sp) check it to ensure all is there and if anything is missing, remind the morning.

Our planner had to be signed every evening by our parents, so if you have to do that, check he has done the homework.assigned.

Get him to do the homework.the day ot is set

MortifiedAdams Sun 01-Sep-13 17:10:24

Oh and he really should have a desk to work at when at home. Tryibg to do homework on his knee infront of the tv or at the kitchen table while you are trying to lay it for dinner is not great.

breadandbutterfly Sun 01-Sep-13 19:10:33

If possible, try to get them into a routine of doing homework as soon as they come back from school, before dinner (after a quick snack if necessary) - wasn't strict about this with dc1 - wish I had. Have just told dc2 that's how it's going to be this year! Then everyone can enjoy the rest of the evening without stress and a good habit to get into.

MortifiedAdams Sun 01-Sep-13 19:25:32

Oh and ban homework.on a Sunday! Try and get them to do it Fri, at a push Sat, as Sundays can get pretty fraught so the last thing you want to be worrying about at 6pm is that essay.

racingheart Sun 01-Sep-13 19:51:43

These are even more great tips. Thank you.
Will get him an in-tray.
Will get extra locker keys cut
And copies of planner.

Bread&butterfly - the school suggested exactly that at induction. I'm going to do my best to get him to do it as soon as he gets in.

racingheart Sun 01-Sep-13 19:53:59

Mortified, I've heard different things about where to do homework. He does have a desk in his room, but on the few occasions he got homework at primary, if he went in there to do it, I'd find him 30 mins later staring at the ceiling saying he couldn't do it, when a v quick talk with him proved he could. I wondered if the kitchen table, with me keeping an eye on him, would be a better place to help remind him to stay on task.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 01-Sep-13 20:00:40

Laminate a copy of his timetable so it doesn't get wet.

A dyspraxic boy I teach has a small, coloured sticker on the spine of each of his exercise books. The timetable at home has been colour coded to match so he can grab the right book for each day. His mother says it helps a lot.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 01-Sep-13 20:03:28

With my DC the TV was not allowed on until they had had a snack and done hwk. It worked well. I did allow them to record anything they wanted to watch.

racingheart Sun 01-Sep-13 21:29:23

Georgeclooney - thanks - that's another great idea. (As is the TV ban. Very wise.)

tiredaftertwo Sun 01-Sep-13 22:11:19

I vote for kitchen table at first. Apart from anything else, their rooms then give them somewhere to go to to demonstrate independence later. And you can keep an eye and help him develop efficient work habits (not spending hours fiddling around making a poster look gorgeous for example).

indignatio Mon 02-Sep-13 07:44:31

Hi Racingheart

Lovely to put a face to the name last week.
I am also worrying about the same issues as you and so once again, thanks for the thread.

Quick wave to Bink.

racingheart Tue 03-Sep-13 19:36:19

Hi Indignatio,

Likewise! So is your DS also very disorganised? DS2 is a dreamer. Today we bought files and notebooks and organisers - most of WHSmith, basically, so I'm hoping this will help.

Only two days to go...

racingheart Wed 04-Sep-13 13:51:48

Hmm. hmm
He's already lost his mobile phone. Hunted the house top to bottom. We think he's left it at a friend's. Good start. Off to buy a new one this afternoon.

haggisaggis Wed 04-Sep-13 14:02:50

Once he has a new phone he can take a photo of his timetable with it so he has another copy. That's what ds did (and it came in handy on day back after summer when he remembered on way to school that timetable was in his bedroom..) DS has a lanyard for his phone like this which has stoppe dhim losing his phone.

angelinterceptor Wed 04-Sep-13 14:10:45

My DS is 13 and all the teachers have commented on how organised he is. Its a bit of a shock to me to be honest.

The one thing he does, which has helped him is:

He puts all textbooks, notes or homework books relating to each subject into a clear folder - he uses the ones with a zip across the top (you can get them in A4 size, or stronger ones which are bigger and hold books/papers etc).

So, he has a 'folder' for each subject - when he is packing his bag at night, he just checks with the timetable and puts in the folders he needs.

Means he never leaves homeworks or textbooks at home by mistake, or forgets anything for a particular subject.

Works for him, anyway

indignatio Wed 04-Sep-13 18:29:26

Folders ordered.
Public transport Timetables in notebook.
List of those things necessary to bring home also in said notebook.
Fingers and toes crossed.

I have bought lovely sticky labels in multicolours, but I think that is probably for my stationery fetish rather than for ds!

Racingheart, if you search under "Dreamer of dreams" in talk, you will see that ds's disorganisation is nothing new...

mymatemax Wed 04-Sep-13 18:30:41

Its an impossible

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