Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back to School Shopping

Even if you haven't looked at a calendar lately, the advertisements in your daily newspaper or a visit to almost any store will make it clear that it is August -- time to think ahead to the start of the new school year. Even here in New York City, where a regular class schedule doesn't begin until the week of September 13th, thoughts of school supplies are unavoidable.

Some students don't have a great deal of flexibility in their purchases; teachers have sent home specific lists and students are expected to show up with the mandated items. But there are some simple products and devices that can help many students who deal with issues such as organization and graphomotor (handwriting) difficulties, and in our experience most teachers will permit -- and often welcome -- the use of these items to help their students better manage the demands of their work.

One product we often recommend, especially for students who struggle with loose leaf notebooks or who can't keep track of handouts, homework, or other papers, is the accordian folder. These generally are made of heavy duty flexible plastic or vinyl and come with 7 or 12 sections. Instead of using loose leaf dividers, students can  label sections of the folder for each subject and have additional sections labeled "take home", "bring back", and other useful headings. Parents can assist younger students with reviewing the papers in each section roughly once a week, moving those papers that need to be kept for studying or other purposes into a longer term folder kept at home and discarding those papers that are no longer needed. Even older students may need assistance with this process in the beginning; they should be responsible for doing this themselves once they get the hang of it.

Another simple kind of tool can help students who struggle with graphomotor issues.  Writing aids and implements like Dexball, Dr. Grip, Twist n' Write and weighted universal holders can all be extremely effective in helping students work around graphomotor weaknesses. Students who are old enough to learn to keyboard, generally age seven and older, may also benefit from having access to a computer at home or in class or both. This doesn't mean that such students should abandon work on their handwriting skills. Using the computer will liberate these students from having their written expression hobbled by their handwriting difficulties. They can work on their handwriting as a separate skill, but by taking it out of the equation for some creative tasks and responsive essays their knowledge and creativity can be expressed without the limitations imposted by their graphomotor challenges.  

It also may be time to take another look at a tried and true guide to paper management,  The Organized Student: Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond, by Donna Goldberg. This book is not for those who prefer cutting edge technology, but for those students and parents who need help dealing with the volumes of papers that overwhelm many students.

No comments:

Post a Comment