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TeachingLD provides answers to common questions about teaching students with learning disabilities. We solicit questions (submit your own question), select those that are of general interest, and ask professionals with expertise about those specific aspects of learning disabilities to summarize—in practical terms—the research relevant to those questions. The Editors of TeachingLD have been supported by the un-compensated assistance of people with substantial knowledge and experience in preparing answers.

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Organization: Helping Students Acquire Organizational Strategies—Karen Rooney

Q:Many of my middle schoolers (and high schoolers when I taught there) have trouble keeping things organized. They stuff papers into their bags willy-nilly, don’t keep things in order, forget what to take to classes, etc. I’ve tried giving them checklists and color-coded binders, but that didn’t seem to help. What can I do to help them with this problem?
Staying organized is a difficult task for many students. Finding the right mix of strategies takes patience. Here to answer your question is Dr. Karen Rooney, President of Educational Enterprises. She works with students of all ages to improve their organizational techniques and study skills in Richmond, VA.--Eds.
A:Thanks for your question. This is a common concern and keeping students organized can be a very frustrating problem. We all know how important it is to be organized, but it is also a very individualized matter. Teachers and parents often develop terrific plans to keep students organized, but often find that the solutions don’t seem to work. There are three very basic concepts that parents and teachers should understand and use when helping students develop their own organizational strategies: (1) authentic visual support, (2) external organization, and (3) student engagement.