Ask the Experts

The Great Middle-School Paper Challenge

Q: “My daughter is entering middle school. Any suggestions as to how to keep her homework — particularly all the different papers — and backpack organized?”

A: Piles of school papers, binders, and supplies can bedevil any child’s attempts to stay organized. Follow Thoreau’s advice: simplify, simplify. In terms of homework, a parent advocate can ask teachers to post homework online and to allow students to submit finished assignments online.

As for the rest of it, well, simplify with these tips:

1. Have one binder with subject dividers rather than keeping a binder for each subject.

2. In order to keep that binder clutter-free, every Friday, help your daughter empty her backpack of completed homework and obsolete notices into a milk crate placed in her homework area. Do not empty the milk crate until June; this allows your daughter to recover papers she might need.

3. Invest in a good assignment planner. Some students prefer paper; others, a phone app. By middle school, your daughter will need a go-to spot where she can write down assignments and due dates. The assignment planner will also help her map out longer projects that are challenging for the ADHD student.

4. On backpack-clearing Fridays, review the assignment book with her and note which days she needs to set aside for research/material gathering, writing, editing, and tweaks.