1. What kind of system can you suggest to keep all the kids paperwork in one place?
Each child should have a basket, container or drawer in the home to put their school work in where they can find it easily for themselves. In this location, when your child gets home from school and wants to leave their "work-in-progress" notes, spelling test, assignment at home they will have a holding area, which can have two folders, one for work-in-progress and another for work that can be saved as memorabilia or tossed. This insures a place for them to look to for work that needs to go back to school and follow up at home. This basket can be in the kitchen or family room or close by to where they do their homework. It should be thinned out once a month and kept up to date.
2. What methods (whiteboards etc) do you recommend using to have the kids know which day they are expected to bring in what?
Some mothers like whiteboards and the student responds well to them. You can use different color dry erase markers for each child/student. Some families like a different calendar for each child individually. This can be used for homework and school/activities appointment. Some people like a wall calendar and this works fine also. There are schools that use a planner that is expected to be checked at school and signed by the parent. Either way, what needs to be done is consistency and follow-up. Some homes need a hard poster board to write each activity and schedule for the day. It mostly depends on how much memory the mom has and how much each child needs to be reminded. Calendar boards are really good if used religiously and diligently.
3. What is the most important thing we can do to help our kids become organized?
If the parents can role model for the child/student, that is the best form of support. That means that the parent is on time; follow through with activities, requests and promises. The good CEO of any organization is the key to success and the CEO here is the Parent. Other than that, set up a well organized home, have it clutter and stress free. Have it well planned out and follow up with a smile and praise. (Just like in a well run business)
4. Should we help them to plan their time or should they do it themselves in 6th grade?
I think each parent should evaluate how much time their child need to get work done, For example, you will find that some of your children will need to eat something small as a snack while they are doing their homework, Others will need complete silent and nothing on the table. Some might need background noise, music to work and concentrate. This goes for time also. Each child works at a different speed. Spend time observing your child and talking to them. Experiment with different locations in the house to complete homework and /or different types of environment. Some might need to go to the Library to do work, or use a different location in the home. Help them plan for their time, Measure their time by how long it takes them to finish an easier project or something they are more interested in. Some students do well with starting with the hardest homework first and saving the easiest for last as they might get too tired in the later evening. On the other hand some students like to start with the easier work first to give them encouragement that they can do the harder one later. Just watch the time and take a survey.
5. Do you think organizing their room is part of helping them organize their homework?
I personally think an organized room helps the student focus. How can children works in a cluttered distracted environment? I vote for setting up a homework area with a desk and chair, good lighting and supplies. If the student does not spend time doing homework in their room then let that be a place for them to relax in a clean carefree healthy space.
6. Do you personally expect the kid's rooms to be tidy every evening before they go to bed or is tidying once a week enough in your experience?
I think that depends on how much tidiness is important to the mom. I would think that you would want you kids room to be tidy and clean for your own satisfaction. I do. I like to clean up the room to set a good example for how we should live. Its' your home and you are in charge. If you child says "It is my room … Pick your battles. But I would point out the positive aspects of having a clutter free tidy room that they can hang out in and feel good about.
7. How much input do you think that the parents should have when helping to keep kids organized?
The parent should set up the systems and supply the tools to make the organization "user friendly". This means giving them a plastic container for their supplies, a drawer or basket for their papers and homework holder. Follow up daily or weekly. See what they need and mix things up if they are not working. Think of school as their job. Sometimes the supervisor or boss needs to give advice and input to make the project successful. School and students are not difference then Employer and employee. Your home and children are your most important assess. Protect, support and value their work and efforts.