My son has just completed his eighth grade year. It has been a terrible one. He spent the whole year being forgetful and disorganized. This seems to have been his pattern for the past few years. What can I do to help him this summer so that he does not become a disorganized mess in high school? -- Disorganized


Usually, organization skills are learned at home. Does your home resemble a madhouse every school morning, with the children scurrying around trying to find their books and papers and looking for permission slips for you to sign? Such daily confusion can result in important papers staying at home. While teachers may believe your child when he or she says, "I did my homework, but I forgot to put it in my backpack," it doesn't mean they won't take off points for late work. And these points off during a grading period can turn a good grade on tests and class work into a C on report cards. There is no question that good organization skills do play a role in academic success.

Your son may not be interested in being organized, as it requires some effort. If his home life is also disorganized, he should be assigned a job in your house. Then you should help him learn to manage his time so that he is able to perform the job successfully. Of course, he also should have some home responsibilities that require organization, such as laundering his clothing and preparing his breakfast or lunch. Again, you can help him organize these tasks.

When school starts in the fall, enroll him in a study skills class if this is at all possible. At that time, there will be a definite tie-in between the class and the organization of his schoolwork. Hopefully, he will then begin to see some advantage to being organized.