Back to School: 3 Tips for Helping Middle Schoolers Get (and Stay) Organized – Local Resources

Back to School chalkboardMiddle school is a big transition for kids. They go from keeping all of their books and supplies at their desk to using lockers. The students go from mainly staying in one room for most of each day to changing classrooms several times each day. The first year of middle school is often where parents see some of the biggest changes in their children. We’ve listed 3 important tips for helping your Middle Schooler start off organized, and stay that way.


You may have a child who is a top student in elementary school start to flounder a bit in middle school. Or you may have a child who has ADHD suddenly flourish in middle school. For the child who typically excels, middle school can be a major break from the structure he or she has become accustomed to. For a child with ADHD, middle school can be a major break from the structure that always may have seemed boring — he or she gets to get up and walk around every 40 minutes to change classes and greet a new teacher!

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to break the rules - Every year parents are handed a list of school supplies, and we search for each and every item down like we’re on a massive scavenger hunt. Sometimes we do it against our better judgment. For example, often in middle school each subject is assigned a “color” and you are asked to get a notebook and folder in each color. That can add up to 5 or 6 folders and 5 or 6 notebooks.  If you have a child who has difficulty staying organized, or who is facing major anxiety over finding everything he or she needs in a locker, go with your instinct. Your child will not “get in trouble.”  Most teachers are fine with kids straying from the supply list and choosing supplies that will work for them.

Think about using one huge binder. You can find two sided binders – each side zips closed – that can be used for 4 or 5 subjects. Your child might find it easier to only have to deal with and carry one binder instead of 5 separate notebooks. Then just purchase folders that match the colors assigned to each subject and insert them into the binder.

Tip #2: Be sure to attend any orientation offered and tackle that locker - Most schools offer an orientation day. Go to it! Purchase a locker shelf, a small mirror, maybe some magnets. The shelf will help your child keep the locker neat. The other items are just to make your child feel more comfortable. Even if your child is entering his or her second year of middle school and does not need to attend the orientation, most schools are ok with you and your child going in that day to set up your child’s locker in anticipation of the first day. Call ahead to be sure, and let the school know it’s helpful to your child to get a jump on setting everything up.

Tip#3: Try to keep everything handy - If you can find a zippered pouch for pens and pencils that can be inserted into a binder, get it. If your child’s backpack contains a compartment for pens and pencils…even better! Odds are your child will have to carry a calculator and perhaps a pocket dictionary. Store them in the zippered pouch inserted into your child’s binder. Add pens and pencils if they’ll fit or put those in a zippered compartment of your child’s backpack. The goal is to keep your child from having to dig through his or her backpack in every class. Anything that you can keep handy for them will help your child from feeling flustered and rushed.

Middle school can seem overwhelming to a child, and it is a lot of changes to face all at once. Shopping smart for school supplies, getting the items that will be most helpful for your child, and preparing as much as possible prior to the first day of school can help ease any anxiety your child may be feeling as well as help him or her get and stay organized!

Local resources for school supply shopping:

Huntington Business Products Centre – located at 339 Main Street in Huntington.
Value Drugs – with locations in Huntington and Greenlawn.
Island School & Art Supply – with locations in Medford, Oakdale, St. James, and Seaford.
Carol School Supply – located at 179-28 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows.

By Allison Profeta

Related PostsTips and Recipes for Back to School Breakfasts
Tips from Local Parents on Packing a Healthy School Lunch
Back to School: Tips for Preparing Your Children for Kindergarten
Back to School: Tips for Preparing Your Children for Elementary School

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