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I have assisted a student with organizing his binder by putting in dividers and pockets, but everything is still a mess. What do you recommend?

You have done a good job laying the groundwork for success by helping your student organize his binder with dividers and pockets. Now we have to figure out how to get him to use it!

Students who struggle with executive function tasks like organization often have difficulty remembering things, keeping track of time, and initiating tasks as well. Perhaps he does not remember to place papers into his binder until the last minute and is then forced to hurriedly throw everything in. Or maybe he does remember that he should organize his materials, but he’s having a hard time actually getting started.Technology can help with these challenges.

A PDA, electronic organizer, or cell phone with an alarm function can remind him to perform a task, like place his notes in his binder or write down his homework, at the same time each day. You can program the alarms on the device itself, or use a free, online service like Remember the Milk(opens in a new window) to automatically send a text message, IM, or email reminders. The regularity of these reminders helps create positive habits, and the fun, high-tech nature of the PDA or cell phone motivates action.

I also suggest that you give your student fun opportunities to practice his organizational skills. Encourage him to create a new playlist on his iPod, coach a fantasy sports team on Sports Illustrated for Kids(opens in a new window), or play a video or computer game that emphasizes organizational skills (see LearningWorks for Kids(opens in a new window) for suggestions and reviews). The categorization, memorization, and time management abilities he develops through these fun activities will serve him well both in and out of school.

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