I was very happy to see that the fourth-graders were required to have “trapper” binders, loose leaf paper, and pocket folders this year. Little Brother has a good handle on academics but not on organization. In his school, the fourth- and fifth-graders share two teachers for the major subjects, so there is some traveling between classrooms and getting used to two different sets of expectations. It’s a good way to ease the kids into the middle-school mode.
I figured that since his teachers asked for a particular type of binder, they’d be devoting some time, early in the school year, to good use of this organizational tool.
And week after week, I’d see him come home with all kinds of loose papers stuffed into one of the pockets inside his binder, which also contained his homework planner, pencil case, 200 sheets of looseleaf, 5 dividers, and 3 pocket folders. The looseleaf? Unused. Dividers? Divided nothing. Pocket folders? Empty, except for one which had a paper from Spanish class inside it. Other Spanish papers were stuffed into that same pocket that held Scholastic book order forms, tests I’d signed, and a homework project due September 27–completed, but never handed in.
One month into the school year, it wasn’t looking like his teachers were doing anything to make sure the students were using the supplies they’d been required to have.
So this morning, since there was no school, I had Little Brother empty out that binder. He recycled all the papers he no longer needed (most of them). He put all the Spanish papers into the Spanish folder. He’s already sort of in the habit of keeping Spanish stuff together, as that teacher encourages that habit in class. And we labeled one pocket folder “Take Home” and “Hand In.” He will put anything to come home in the “Take Home” side. When it’s finished (homework complete, tests signed, forms filled in) it will go to the “Hand In” side. We’ll see if this works, and I can reinforce this system at home.
We labeled the dividers too, though there’s nothing to divide at the moment.
I hope this helps him. Next step: dealing with the “flash cards” that are floating around his backpack. I like that the teachers encourage the kids to make flash cards when they need to remember important terms or lists. But they do no good when they wind up in the bottom of the backpack, in a jumble of subjects and topics! Does anyone have ideas for how he can organize and carry these index cards around? It’s not like he can put a 3X5 file box in his backpack.
I really think he’d be better off with an accordion file, but I still think that teachers require things for a reason. There will be conferences with the teachers in mid-November, so I’ll give this another month and see how we roll. If it’s not working out, I’ll talk with the teachers about it then.
Ideas for organizing a smart but scatterbrained 9-year-old will definitely be appreciated!