At this point in the school year, expectations are ramping up for students with more homework and more assignments to juggle. Keeping track of homework can be particularly tricky in the middle school years when students are given increasing responsibilities and expected to be more independent in managing assignments. Middle school is a great time to learn organizational skills in preparation for high school and beyond.

With that in mind, here are 6 tips for students and parents to improve organization and time management skills in the middle school years:

  1. Create a planner or visual organizer to keep track of assignments. The planner should include both daily and long-term assignment. Write down assignments and upcoming tests as soon as they are announced by teachers.
  2.  Break down long-term assignments and studying for tests into smaller portions. When a long-term project is assigned, develop daily or weekly goals for completing smaller portions of the project. Write down these target dates, as well as the due date, in the planner.
  3. Create binders or folders to keep materials for each class separate and categorized. Once a day, go through the binders and folders to ensure that all materials are in correct place. Once a week, go through the backpack and discard or appropriately file all papers and materials.
  4. Use a whiteboard or other visual aid at home to remind students of the materials that they need to bring to school each morning.
  5. Practice prioritization and planning. Review all homework assignments each day and identify which require the most thinking (do first) and which are less involved (do last). Highlight assignments that must be completed and put them higher on the list. Follow this plan during the homework period. Afterwards, review how successful the plan was and what modifications are needed for the next day.
  6. Learn better time management by estimating how long tasks or assignments will take. Then, check the estimate by writing down the actual start and end time or using a timer. Compare the estimated and actual times in order to make more accurate predictions in the future.