All About Boys: Failing School

Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons boys fail school is not because they do not know the work or they are not smart enough.  The biggest reason they fail – they are not organized.  Yes, the lack of organization is crippling our boys in school and their ability to be successful in school.

If you are like me, and have a son, take a moment and look into his backpack.  Yes the one with all the papers everywhere.  The one that he throws everything in and forgets where to find it.

Most boys are not failing classes due to test or quiz grades. Most are failing due to “No homework”.  Yes, they cannot find the homework.

♦You know he did the homework, you saw him do the homework, but what happened to the homework. Sounds too familiar?♦

But He Was Organized?

Some parents believe that their children had organization skills and then lost them. No what typically happened was that elementary school teachers had an organization system that worked.  They usually required a take home folder that had one side labeled for Stay home and the other Return to school.  They had students write down their assignment in the agenda book that you had to sign each day (great accountability).  Then they even helped you to clean out the backpack by telling you which papers stayed home and can be thrown away.

Students especially boys benefit from this type of structure in the early years. Many students at the elementary age have no problems with homework assignments going missing, as long as they use the system put in place.

Organization Skills

You would think this is taught in school with math and reading skills. Schools attempt to teach organization skills in elementary school by requiring children to use calendars and organized-1534869agenda books. Then what happens in middle school?  It becomes way too embarrassing to write down your homework or to use one of those school issued agenda books.

Tutors are increasing their focus on working with boys around organization to make up for the gap in schools.  This article in New York Times highlights some of the concerns with boys and organization.

“Some educators think the tutors are on the right track, whether or not there is science to back them up. “The guys just don’t seem to develop the skills that involve organization as early,” said Judith Kleinfeld, a psychology professor at the University of Alaska and founder of the Boys Project, a coalition of researchers, educators and parents to address boys’ problems.”

Getting Them Organized

Parents here are a few tips I have learned through the years in helping boys to get organized.

  1. You have to organize daily. It takes five minutes to organize each afternoon versus a big clean at the end of the week.
  2. Use a one binder system. That means EVERYTHING goes in one binder.  This makes it easy to find missing items.check-list-1150080
  3. Make sure everything is labeled in the binder, including folders for homework and items to return to school.
  4. Start early. As boys transition from elementary to middle school, organization skills need to be implemented from day one. 
  5. Create a pleasurable experience, working together to be organized. Many boys dread the moment their mom says “let’s clean out the bookbag”. Do not turn this into lecture time or drilling time. Just take time to teach in this moment organization.  This is a skill you want them to have not something “they have to do because you make them”.

Parents take a moment and help your son to identify ways to get through organizing his work.  Then you can begin to focus on any real academic issues that may still exist once the organization and missing homework problem is fixed.

I encourage you to have a powerful, peaceful parenting experience with your child each and every day.

Until Next Session,
Dr. Stacy


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