My fifth-grader has started getting lower grades this year. Her teacher blames it on the child's lack of organization. She forgets to bring books home, study for tests or take homework back to school. Admittedly, I'm not the perfect picture of an organized person myself. How can I turn things around for her? -- A Disorganized Family


Your daughter is not going to become an organized student overnight. However, she needs to start turning things around now before being disorganized really causes her problems later on.

Disorganization can be a sign of attention-deficit disorder. Whether it is or isn't, several things can be done to help your daughter become more organized. One we particularly like is using checklists as reminders of things to be done. Another is attending a study-skills class at school or a learning center.

Sit down soon with your daughter and her teacher to decide which aspects of the child's being disorganized are the major reasons for her lower grades. Prioritize the list so all of you can begin working on improving the number one problem.

To use the checklist approach, tape a checklist to her desk both at school and at home. Have spaces for each day of the week as well as the items to be checked off -- starting with only one or two items on the list. Add one or more after several weeks when handling the first items has become nearly automatic. At school, the list could have such items as taking assignment calendar, books, notebooks and assignment worksheets home. The at-home list might include the following: look at assignment calendar, decide the order to do assignments and put books and papers in backpack.

Other basic aids for disorganized students include: a duplicate set of books at home and a definite study time each day. If the child has no assignments, it can be used to review schoolwork.