Strong organizational skills can be the difference between passing and failing, between an okay grade and a really excellent one. Getting organized is an important part of academic success, but especially when your student is in middle school. It’s the perfect time, really: they’re gaining more responsibility by the minute, yet they’re young enough that they’re still able to break bad habits that might have formed.


Middle school is also a prime time because your student is preparing for high school. This might not be on your radar if your child is just entering sixth grade, but trust me, it’s better to start early.


On the subject, I am planning a future blog post about how you can adequately prepare your middle schooler for high school, so stay tuned for that! For now, though, I really want to focus on organizational skills, because I think they are key to setting your child up for success.


If your student has already developed good organizational skills, great! But there’s always room for improvement. And if your student is in eighth grade it is not too late! Here are some tips to help your middle schooler get their schoolwork (and life) in order.


Make to-do lists.


This is my number one tip for students of all ages. To-do lists are lifesavers! They tell you exactly what you need to do exactly when you need to do it. I like to keep separate lists, too: there’s my daily to-do list, which lets me know what I have to accomplish before I go to bed that night, but I also have weekly and monthly to-do lists.


Encourage your middle schooler to make to-do lists. And that doesn’t mean just writing in their planner, either! Planners are great tools, but they’re usually limited to schoolwork. To boost organizational skills in all areas of life, students should make to-do lists that include all of their tasks.


To give you an example, here is my to-do list for today:


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Now, you might be looking at that list and think, “‘Take a shower’? ‘Eat a snack’? Seriously?” And I don’t blame you—those seem like basic tasks, right? Why should anyone take the time to write those things down?


Well, let me tell you, those basic tasks are some of the most important to include on your list! They may seem silly, but they give your middle schooler something easy to cross off, which then encourages them to keep getting things done.


It’s also a good idea to schedule breaks, as I’ve done above. Some kids get overwhelmed when they know they have a lot of work to do. Consequently, they may procrastinate or even fail to complete tasks at all. Help your student avoid this struggle by reminding them to take breaks. Even five or ten minutes of distraction can make all the difference!


Let them pick their own planner.


Your student’s school will almost always provide them with a planner at the beginning of the school year. Learning to use a planner is key to getting your middle schooler organized. However, some kids bristle at using these planners. They might perceive it as being forced upon them, which will increase the chances of that planner staying blank. How do you avoid that? By letting your student choose their own planner!


When you go school supply shopping, show your student different planner options. They may be attracted to a certain color or a particular design. A different size might even catch their eye. I have one student who uses a pocket-sized notebook to write down assignments; he likes that it’s easy to tote around and that he’s more likely to bring it home if it’s in his pocket all day.


If you want to encourage your student to use their planner but don’t want to buy a whole new one, try out a DIY design! When I was a kid, my mom used to help us decorate our notebooks, and it always made me so excited for the school year. I felt much more inclined to use my notebooks because I had made them myself! Using construction paper or even scrapbooking materials, help your student re-cover their planner. Suggest that they go a step forward by pasting eye-catching pictures from magazines to their new cover. Finally, protect their DIY cover from wear and tear with some kind of clear film. (I find Con-Tact paper works really well.)


Download the myHomework app.


If your student is really not feeling the planner thing, maybe something digital will do the trick. Most of us use our phones constantly anyway, and younger generations even more so. Why fight it? Let’s just roll with it instead.


There are lots of apps out there that can help with organization, but I think myHomework is one of the best.


organizational skills


Free for iOS and Android, myHomework allows students to set up homework alerts, insert their class schedule, keep an assignment calendar, and even more!


organizational skills


The app is easy to navigate and keeps students of all ages on task. If your middle schooler is glued to their phone, suggest this app to them. Planning their schoolwork in a more approachable format will do wonders for their organizational skills.


Sign up for tutoring.


Still feel like your middle schooler could be more organized? Let Learning Ascent help you out. We serve students in the St. Charles and Elgin area, teaching them valuable study skills to help them improve their grades and secure their future academic success. As I mentioned before, middle school is a crucial time for students. If you want more information on how we can help your child, visit our website or call us at 630-587-2795 today. Click here to see our Homework Help page for even more great resources!


Featured image credited to Howard County Library System.

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