Tools to Help Your Pre-teen Stay Organized During Quarantine Schooling
Overnight, in-person schools across the country were canceled and pre-teens everywhere were suddenly expected to manage a full course load of online learning with zero practice doing so. This sudden shift may leave you feeling like your child’s taskmaster or manager all while trying to get your own work done and trying to stay somewhat sane. It’s enough to drive any parent up the wall!
Pre-teens naturally struggle with time management and organization. It’s a skill that they’re still working on and it takes LOTS of practice. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this pandemic is giving students everywhere endless opportunities to flex these muscles. This may also mean that you’re experiencing endless battles with your child over due dates, remembering meetings, and getting work done in a timely manner. If you want to find ways to support your pre-teen as they school from home while also getting a break from having to provide constant reminders, check out the tools we’ve highlighted below.
Weekly and daily checklists
It can be difficult for your pre-teen to keep track of everything they need to get done this week, today, or even this morning. Learning how to build checklists of tasks that need to be done can be extremely helpful for some students. This can be as simple as listing each assignment, or can be taken more in-depth to list the steps to complete each task.
When making checklists with your child, stay aware of the potential for overwhelm. If your pre-teen tends to get overwhelmed when given lots of tasks, consider breaking the check lists down to just list a few items at a time.
Get high tech: Google Keep is a great place to create and manage virtual checklists!
Does your child constantly tell you they don’t have “that much” to do as they procrastinate for most of the day? Kristen from Blog Your Genius cued us into this great strategy for helping students see what the day or week ahead holds. Similar to a checklist, your child can write each assignment that needs to be completed on a post-it and can then stick them to a wall near their computer. When an assignment or task is completed, they can take the post-it down and throw it away. This is a satisfying visual and sensory experience for students who struggle to understand the tasks they must complete in a given day or week.
Visual weekly schedule
If your child is expected to log into video meetings at certain times or has hard deadlines for assignments and projects, a schedule mapped out hour by hour can help them keep track of their days. A visual weekly schedule also gives your child the opportunity to map out when they will take the time to do certain school tasks, or when they would like to participate in leisure activities.
Get high tech: Google calendar is a great option for mapping out an hourly schedule. The best part is that you can print the week’s or the month’s schedule when you want a hard copy.
Old school timer
Keeping focus at home can be challenging even for the most disciplined and experienced adult. Your child may be struggling to stay on task when attempting to complete school work during their quarter at home. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring out the old school productivity hacks like your trusty kitchen (or microwave) timer. Set the timer for a reasonable amount of time and have your child practice staying on task and doing their work until the timer goes off. Once the timer dings, they’re free to move around and do something else until the timer goes off again signaling it’s time to get back to work. Here’s an example of how this might go when you’re just starting out:
Set a timer for 10 minutes - child practices working for the 10 minutes straight.
When the timer goes off, set it for 15 minutes of free time.
Repeat 10 and 15 minute increments.
Increase the work time each day until your child reaches a productive period that works for them.
Phone or device reminders
If your child has their own device, it might be time to allow it to do some of your nagging. Device reminders can be a great way to keep your pre-teen up to speed on what assignments, chores, and other tasks need to be completed. Most phones will even allow reminders to be organized in a virtual checklist.
Get even more high tech: Set up your child’s digital calendar to automatically send them reminders about their appointments or deadlines to their phone.
This time of quarantine and social distancing may be the most challenging for pre-teens and their families. Hopefully, this time will become an opportunity for pre-teens to learn and practice time management and executive functioning skills they will utilize for the rest of their lives.