Students start out the school year with a new book bag filled with pencils, pens, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, binders, pencil sharpeners, textbooks and so on. Each has its own compartment, too, at least at the beginning.
As a former high school teacher, here’s what students sometimes told me when it came time to turn in an assignment or when it was late: “You didn’t give me that assignment,” or “I turned that in. You lost it.”
Hmmm. Really? The next step, of course, is to have the student pull out everything in the gaping black hole known as the “book bag.” In short order, for many students, it becomes a “garbage bag.” Guess what the student finds crumpled up in the book bag? Not one, but several copies of the assignment; obviously, he or she used the excuse that the assignment was never given to him or her before. Or, the assignment that the student swore up and down that the teacher had lost is also crumpled up at the bottom of that black hole.
What can you, as a parent, do about it? First of all, check with the teachers to find out if the five pound textbooks are available Online, so those can be eliminated from the bag. That helps a lot. Make sure that the teachers’ requirements for a binder or folder have been met because that helps ensure that the student will place assignments where they can be found rather than having your child just stuff everything into the middle of the bag and expect to find it again.
There’s another step you can take, though. For each class buy a zip lock bag big enough to hold the folder, notebook paper, pen, pencil, sharpener, calculator and whatever is needed. Label each bag with the class name. At the beginning of class, each student (even and especially high school students who will inquire if they are now in kindergarten) pulls out that pouch which contains everything the student needs for that class. There is a Web-site called http://www.reallygoodstuff.com, that sells these bags in lots of 30 in a couple different sizes, but a makeshift bag will do just fine.
Of course, keeping an assignment book in the bag will help and make sure your child has the necessary supplies every day. It isn’t fair to expect teachers to supply them, and many students show their appreciation for pencils given to them by hurling them into the ceiling when the teacher isn’t looking and paper gets wadded up and tossed across the room. It happens.
When your student arrives home, ask for the pouches. Ask your student about the paperwork in it. Find out what the day’s concept was for each and what your student knows about it. If there isn’t homework, your student should still be able to tell you what the focus of the lesson was and what he/she knows about it.
Getting organized doesn’t guarantee that your student will get straight A’s, but for some students, keeping that black hole organized just might let their little light shine.