How to Help Your Kids Get Organized at Homework Time

I have a 10-year-old son who is all boy when it comes to organizing, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, after two moves this year, my new job and his new school, he is quite moody. My hope is to head off our daily homework fights by allowing him to do his homework in the living room on the couch with no TV. The problem is that the school supplies end up everywhere but seem to be nowhere when we need to find them. I don't know if I should have him do his work at the kitchen table instead. (He has never done homework at his desk, which is where his computer is.) Should I try to organize him, or should I make him responsible for organizing himself? --c2barnett


The first thing I noticed in your question was the fact that your family has faced upheaval recently. Moving causes tremendous amounts of stress for adults and children alike. You should be sensitive to the pressure your son must be feeling as he tries to adjust to a new school and schedule.

With that said, I don't think it sets a good precedent to allow him to dictate how things will be handled in the home. The common areas, such as the living room, are for the whole family's entertainment, including guests who visit you. If everyone encounters school supplies and homework, the room has lost its primary function. I think your son needs to do his homework in his room. You can assist him by making his workspace organized and inviting. Helping him create this area and establish good study patterns can only assist him, during his school years and beyond.
To wit:

  • Does he have a bookcase?
  • Does he have a small file cabinet?
  • Is there an area to store school supplies in designated containers?
  • Is the lighting good?

    If the kitchen table becomes an interim solution, be sure your son's room is established as the headquarters for his supplies. And request that his supplies and papers return to his room when he is finished. As he gets older and needs more books, the kitchen table is going to be inadequate for the task at hand. He will also need his computer more for schoolwork. It's inefficient to constantly be on the move from the computer in his room to the kitchen table.

    Just as rewards are important to the iVillagers engaged in the Get Organized Community Challenge®, they are key to anyone trying to make changes in their environment. Your son is no exception. I would offer a reward to express your appreciation after he works with you to set up his new study area.
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