The predictable routine of school is kicking in. It feels good, but it isn’t easy. My Connor, who plays the drums and makes us laugh at dinner, still has no natural organizational skills.  But, we've come up with a great solution that can work in your home too!  Follow along...

“I can’t find my math paper, Mom,” Connor tells me from his room. “It’s not in my homework folder.”

“What happened to the ‘gift of a minute?'” I ask while loading the dishwasher. ‘Gift of a minute’ is code for taking time to put each assigned homework paper in the left side of his homework folder, before doing anything else.

“There was no time. I put it somewhere.”

“Let me know when you find it.” Long gone are the days when I’d fly in like an army general; sorting through his papers and backpack. Me being angry and Connor being frustrated. I didn’t understand, back then, that he was missing the ‘organizational gene.’ He couldn’t help it and he couldn’t figure it out. I learned that I had to teach him specific strategies to compensate. We devised the template in third grade and he’s still using it in seventh grade.

I moved on to the laundry with no word from Connor. I travel by stealth and peer into his bedroom. A slew of papers in disarray clutter his bed. But at his desk he’s working on his math paper. I’m jumping for joy inside. He found it!

A half an hour later, he finds me quizzing his sister on her spelling words. “I’m done. It’s ‘sign time.'”

‘Sign time’ began in third grade, too. He writes his assignments in his planner and he brings it to his teacher to initial that it’s correct. At home, he shows me he’s completed each assignment and puts each in the right side pocket of his homework folder. I love seeing his initials on the upper right hand corner of every page!

The final step of Connor’s organizational routine is ‘back in the pack.’ He puts his homework folder in his back pack along with everything else he’ll need to have at school the next day. This system is effective because Connor works at what we call the ‘score four.’ It’s the template he follows.

  • Gift of a minute
  • Sign time
  • Homework folder
  • Back in the pack

My hope is that practice will make perfect. And that he’ll devise a template for every aspect of his life. In the meantime, I love watching his confidence grow.

Coppell resident JoAnn Schauf created Your Tween And You after spending 20 years as a middle, high school and college guidance counselor. She's a master storyteller who helps parents re-connect with their tweens. She used humor to survive the tween years with her own four kids, who are now well adjusted adults! JoAnn offers private parent coaching,  school and church workshops, and a bi-monthly newsletter. You can reach her at  She also has new weekly podcasts!  Listen Now!