Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Organized Student

The Organized Student: Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond, by Donna Goldberg with Jennifer Zwiebel.

I read the description of The Organized Student in the Chinaberry catalog and was instantly intrigued. Part of the review reads: "Each chapter has an assessment test with pointed questions that will help parents root out the problems unique to their child. It is definitely not a quick fix, and, as the author notes, 'learning to be organized is a process,' but this initial investment of time will bring a big payoff in the end." (The full Chinaberry review here.) The book was one of the three items on my Chinaberry wish list that made the cut, and it came in the mail a week later.

One of my biggest concerns about lovely lady's return to high school has been organization. My lovely creative out-of-the-box dreamer is not a linear thinker, and she struggles with organizing herself and her time, so a book promising an organizing system that will help students climb out of a mire of disorganization is worth a try. I started reading..."That's our kid!" I jokingly told loving husband. Under the loving guidance and organization of her elementary school teachers, lovely lady was able to rely on the teachers' systems to keep her on track; once she hit middle school she was expected to know how to manage all of her papers, planners, study time, expectations from different teachers, and she fell apart. In sixth grade, lovely lady would, under strict supervision by the homework police (me), slave over her homework, checked and double-checked by loving husband or myself...and still constantly bring home reports of missing work. Goldberg, a professional student organizational consultant, knows right where the missing work went: In the bottom of the backpack, the locker, under the bed, jammed in a desk drawer, used for scratch paper, recycled by mistake.

The book is simple, straighforward, quick to read and easy to use. Using Goldberg's techniques, parents help their high school and middle school students to identify problem areas and start from scratch to create systems that will keep them from losing important papers and forgetting study time. Goldberg discusses locker organization, backpacks, creating an effective study space at home, how to deal with the mountains of school papers, using planners, and teaching effective time management. It's definitely a step-by-step process, requiring dedicated time and energy, as well as some money for organizing tools like desk trays and locker shelves, but the pay-off will be worth it.

In addition to practical organizing tips, Goldberg offers tips and ideas for dealing with the disorganized students themselves. She's got a great deal of empathy for the students and the challenges they face, and emphasizes the importance of giving them a voice and allowing them to find their own solutions as much as possible so that they've got a greater investment in making their systems work.

Lovely lady and I have gotten a head start by organizing her desk, and we're looking forward to the next step: We're off to school today to pick up her papers, and to look at her locker so that she can decide how she'd like it organized and decorated.

Read an excerpt here, and more information about this book at

1 comment:

B said...

I'm on my way to pick up a copy!