Saturday, May 29, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Organizing Kids - by Ana Homayoun, author, That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed...

Last week, after a book signing for my recently released book “That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life,” a mother approached me to lament about how even though she thought that she had tried everything her son was on the verge of failing the eighth grade

After speaking with this mother for a few minutes, it became clear that it wasn’t just her son’s struggle to be organized that was the problem. Every time I would say something positive and encouraging, she would become negative. When I made a suggestion, she batted it down as though it wouldn’t work, even though she had yet to try it. Though this mother clearly was well-intentioned (she was giving up part of her Thursday evening to hear me speak and buy my book!) her own attitude and approach clearly made it impossible for her and her son to move forward.

Between all the activities parents have to juggle – jobs, finances, home life, kid’s school, sports and activities – parents don’t always readily realize that the message they send through their actions – both verbal and non-verbal – have an enormous impact on their child’s ability to become encouraged to make long-term changes towards personal and academic success.

Through my work with families, it is abundantly clear that parental attitude and approach are some of the main factors of long-term student success – here are few quick tips:

Make a Fresh Start and Let Go of Past Mistakes – In my book, I give the example of the a boss who no matter what you seem to do, reminds you of past mistakes, short-comings or your general failing to measure up. Most adults would long to find another job FAST, and don’t realize that they inadvertently treat their kids the same way. In my work, I always talk about the win-win – that is, how getting better organized will make the student’s life easier so he or she can spend more time doing whatever it is they enjoy – and that this process is all about THEM. For most pre-teens and teenagers, that can be a powerfully motivating message.

Let Your Child Take Ownership of his Successes and Mistakes – Over my years of work, I see that the most successful parent/child dynamics are those where the parent allows the child to develop their own skills and react to their own challenges. Some weeks and months might be smoother than others, but the overall trend is that over time, these kids develop into reliable, competent and hardworking young people.

Remain Calm and Re-Group as Necessary – When I give talks to parents and educators, I often get nervous laughter when I exclaim how “No child sits up late at night strategizing how they can stress you out by forgetting their homework on the printer!” As with everything, learning is a process, and kids will struggle as they learn new techniques. Structuring a weekly re-group time in your home, where kids can go through their backpack, clean out any crumpled papers, update their planner and start the week off in a great way is probably one of the best long-term changes parents can make.

I encourage you to look at this upcoming week or weekend as a time to start fresh, re-group and help your child on his or her own path to success!

Ana Homayoun is the author of THAT CRUMPLED PAPER WAS DUE LAST WEEK: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life. She is also the Founder and Director of Green Ivy Educational Consulting, an educational consulting firm that encourages junior high and high school students to create their own framework for academic and personal success. A graduate of Duke University, Homayoun also holds a Masters Degree in Counseling from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Northern California. Visit

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