Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School!

I have to admit, I am not one of those moms who get weepy when the kids go back to school. I'm quite the opposite and have to restrain myself so the kids don't pick up on how happy I am to escort them out the door on that first day back to school each year.

We're looking forward to a good school year this year. My son is in his fourth year (7th grade) at a private school for kids with learning differences and my daughter is starting her second year (4th grade) at the neighborhood public school. Both kids were happy to be going back to school this week and they quickly fell into the normal routine of early bedtimes and even earlier wake up times.

One of the things we've learned from my son's school is the importance of helping kids get organized with their school work. After four years, my son expects his binder for school to be set up a certain way and this year, we set up my daughter's binder in much the same way. Her papers last year took on a life of their own and became nearly impossible to manage. She didn't have a binder and neither of us knew what was finished, what had been turned in and what was to be left at home. 

There's nothing fancy about the organization of the binder. There's a daily assignment planner in the front and an additional monthly calendar for long term assignments. Next there are two  pockets — one for "to do" items (homework or other unfinished assignments) and one for "finished" assignment (items ready to be turned in). In my daughter's binder, we added a third pocket for "leave at home" so that the papers she no longer needs are not mixed in with the assignments that need to be done or turned in. 

My son's school sends all of his "leave at home" papers in an envelope on Thursday. I love that! He and I can go through the week's work together and there are no extra papers cluttering his binder. Actually, there are plenty of extra papers with drawings of bizarre contraptions on them but a binder can't solve every problem! 

There are also dividers for every subject which rarely get used in my son's binder. I think the intent is for him to store papers by subject that he might use for studying. 

We're stumbling through our first week and it's already obvious that my son will have to step up his efforts this year. We're hoping to transition as much work as possible to the computer this year and he's going to be learning more about how to ask for the kind of help he needs (self-advocating). Each week, his class rotates between classes for life skills, study skills, speech, computer and art.  Did I mention that I love his school?