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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.

sassymuffin Fri 06-Sep-13 17:36:45

Sounds exactly like my DS, I have replied to your PM racing.

racingheart Fri 06-Sep-13 15:50:51

Balloon slayer, this is so true. Primary school took the attitude: you just have to sort this out now you're in Yr6 but it became clear to me that he just can't, not that he can't be bothered, but he's not wired to remember what he was asked to do ten seconds ago, let alone three lessons ago. He just isn't set up to remember in that way and no amount of sanctions and shouting helps. Understandably he gets upset when others (including me) get frustrated at him.

OInterestingly he has superb memory in other areas. It's definitely linked to organisational skills. He can recall entire plots of books and movies in minute details and has photographic memory when it comes to spellings.

racingheart Fri 06-Sep-13 15:45:09

Sassy - thank you for all those tips. I'm PMing you re diagnosis.

BalloonSlayer Thu 05-Sep-13 07:03:52

I think another important thing is to accept that some children need more support than others and to keep discreetly helping, reminding, checking, in the background. A lot of parents think "well he's at secondary now, he'll have to sort it for himself" and just bow out. Which is fine when the child is an organised person, but when they are not they can end up with no diary, no PE kit, no books etc in a very short space of time. And teachers lose patience with the child who never has their book/a pen/a calculator. None of us want a child who is still depending on us to fill their pencil case at the age of 18 but it is daft to suggest that every child is capable of managing this for themselves at 11.

Another thing worth teaching them is: what to say when they are late for a lesson, and what to say when they do forget homework. A children who comes in late and grunts at the teacher will not go down well. A child who comes in late who clearly says to the teacher without prompting: "I'm sorry I'm late Mrs X" is a different matter. Similarly if they DO forget their homework, saying nothing until asked for it, looking blank, denying any knowledge then finally when pressed saying in a surly fashion that they have done it but forgotten it, is a common but tiresome practice. Going straight to see the teacher at the start of the lesson to say "Mr S I am really sorry but I forgot my homework, I did do it but I left it at home" is likely to get a far more sympathetic approach.

sassymuffin Thu 05-Sep-13 00:20:54

My DS has dyspraxia and started secondary school today. One of his main issues is disorganisation it was the red flag that lead to his diagnosis.

The main advice we have had is photocopy his time table multiple times keep copies in his blazer, bedroom, kitchen (or by calendar) etc. get different coloured plastic coverings for his books and colour in his timetable with corresponding colour ie chemistry - yellow - english blue etc.

Have a clear plastic box in the hall or somewhere similar where he can completely empty his bag EVERY day then repack for the next day (this also helps school newletters find their way to you.

Keep a secondary supply of pens, pencils etc because inevitabley he may loose something and it is best to avoid panic as this distracts from tasks such as homework.

Finally don't be afraid to mention to the school that your DS has issues regarding remembering things but that he is working on this area - you never know it may save him from a reprimand in the first couple of weeks.

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

Its an impossible

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...

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

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.

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.

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...

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.

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).

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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