Q:

How can I help my first-grade daughter become better organized? Every day is a disaster. The teacher is always emailing me because the child has not turned in her homework. She never has her library book on library day, and some days she is calling me to bring her lunch because she either forgot it or left it on the bus. Help, where do I start? -- Organizational Skills Needed

A:

Stop. You definitely need to bring some organization into both of your lives to make her school days go smoother.

If she doesn't have one, buy a backpack for your daughter and select a spot where it is always put in your home. At a specific time each day, your daughter needs to totally empty her backpack and go through everything with you because she probably doesn't know yet what should be saved and what should be thrown out. At this time, you need to handle forms that need to be signed and returned to school. And she needs to find whatever homework papers that she is to complete. Plus, this is the time to look over the work that she has done at school and talk about it with her.

Everything going back to school must be in your child's backpack before she goes to bed. Even her lunch must fit in the backpack so that nothing is left at home or on the bus. Inside the backpack, there needs to be a brightly-colored pocket folder with the word "school" written on it. Everything she does at home that is homework and needs to be returned to the teacher the next day should be placed in this folder. You should also put the forms that need to be returned to school in this folder in the backpack.

There should be a second folder with "home" written on it, where your daughter should put everything that the teacher gives her at school, including her daily work, teacher notes and homework papers. In the morning, you can assume the responsibility for getting her lunch in the backpack.