How do you organise your teenager?

Where are my PE shorts?” 

“Have you got some change for the non-school uniform day collection?”

“Where can I get icing sugar for food tech tomorrow?”

Sound familiar? How do you respond, to help organise your teenager?

How long have you known about this?” The answer is normally an infuriating week, a few days, last lesson, to which you reply, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”. You already know the answer is “I forgot”, or “I didn’t think”. Teenagers!

As the mother of two teenage sons, I’ve been the parent who’s made the late night dash to the supermarket to buy that vital ingredient. It might be some consolation to know this is completely normal. You or your children would be the exception, if you have never had to do this and never had to organise your teenager. 

Thank goodness for WhatsApp

For me there are two clear benefits of class whatsapp groups. The first is that it acts as a useful reminder of everything you had no idea about. There is usually some helpful, on the ball, or slightly annoying parent who has memorised the school calendar and is happy to share their knowledge for everyone’s benefit. However, by far the most significant benefit of whatsapp, is that it makes you feel better about yourself. You’re definitely not alone in your ignorance. In fact, it can make you feel positively on top of it all, because there are usually parents who are far worse off than you.

The Teenage Brain

As the mother of three boys who are sixteen, thirteen and nine, I now realise that disorganisation and forgetfulness are not a constant. Like everything else about being parent, it’s a phase they are going through. The adolescent brain changes more than at any other time in its development, apart from during infancy. Adults think differently to teens. Adults think with the rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, the part that helps them to make judgements and consider the long term consequences of actions. Teenagers, on the other hand, think with the emotional part, the amygdala, as the decision making part is still developing, and will be until their mid twenties. This might help to explain the “I didn’t think” response. They will grow out of it.

Seven simple steps to help with your teenager’s organisation

  • Have a magazine file for every subject, preferably in different colours, to help keep everything for each subject in one place.
  • Ask your child to make a copy of their school and extra-curricular timetable and put it in a place where you can all refer to it eg. a kitchen notice board. They can add a column about what they need to remember for each day.
  • Buy your child a simple whiteboard, which they can use to write anything important that they need to remember that week. They can update this every weekend.
  • Discuss at a family meal over the weekend, upcoming events for each of you. Everyone can join in this and share with each other.
  • Encourage your child to complete their homework before the deadline. Not only does this prevent last minute glitches, but it’s a good habit to get into, and allows time for amendments and improvements. 
  • Discuss your child’s day and school with them. Ask them what homework they have and what’s in store for the rest of the week. This doesn’t have to be immediately, but can be something you do in the car together on the way to an activity or over a family meal.
  • Encourage your child to get into the routine of packing their bag and having everything ready for school the day before.

…and finally

Don’t do everything for them…allow your children to make mistakes and face the consequences. It is your natural instinct as a parent to protect. However, you won’t always be there to rescue them and learning by trial and error is an essential part of growing up. Do keep a close eye on the whatsapp group though!

Here at organisational skills are a key component of our secondary mentoring and study and revision support programme. Contact us today to find out how we can support you.