How can I get my first grader to be more responsible?

Jill - posted on 01/27/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )




Okay, you would think I would have an answer for this one, but I am truly running out of solutions. My first grader Blake completes his homework with me at the table every night, yet I often find it in his folder the next day when it should have been turned in. Blake is so forgetful, and it seems it is impossible for him not to leave at least one of his belongings at school each day too. I remind him EVERY morning what he is to be responsible for, yet his jacket, his reading or math folder or his library book goes missing, or I find that assignment from the night before right where we put it! I am so frustrated and tired of asking his teacher to help him locate things! I know he is only in first grade, and academically he has all Es (excellent) and one G (good) and receives high marks on all his learning behaviors, EXCEPT responsibility. I teach 7th grade, so I really need help directing Blake since I don't work with little ones. Am I being too hard on him? I do not want to see him turn into some of the terribly disorganized students I work with. PLEASE advise!

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As a first grade teacher, we like to use a "Homework Book" and have the students glue all assignments into a composition book each day. We just stamp-check the Homework Books each morning. This really helps students remember their homework because it is an "extra weight" in the backpack - they "feel" if something is missing! This Homework Book and the Daily Folder go home every day and come back every day, no matter what (even on weekends when there is no homework in it) to create the "habits" of taking it home every day and bringing it back, putting checked papers neatly in a folder to take home (never loose in the desk or backpack), etc. I have been told year after year that these basic organizational "habits" have served them well through the grades because their desks/backpacks/lockers have not been allowed to get messy. I feel if the expectation is broken down and kept simple in order to form a daily habit, the disorganized student is able to internalize it better and maintain success. Good luck!!

Vicki - posted on 01/31/2010




Jill,As a former first grade teacher I know how hard it is for the teacher to check each child's packpack. Try giving your child a card or paper with a list. Make pictures of
what he is expected to do on the card. Then tell him to check it off when he has done it.
If you want to give him a surprise for checking off everything at the end of the week.
Pictures are very helpful at this age and so are stickers for a job well done.

Brandy - posted on 01/28/2010




I was going to suggest something similar to what Barbara described. I have a first grader who is ADHD and we have to use something similar to get him ready in the morning. I help him with his homework in the evenings and then he is to immediatly to put it in his backpack. If I find it out he is excpected to stop what he is doing to put it away right. I always remind him last thing before he gets out of the car what he needs to hand in to the teacher. This way it is fresh in him memory when he gets in the school.

Barbara - posted on 01/28/2010




Try creating a visual (picture) checklist for him to utilize when packing his bookbag at home before leaving for school, and at the end of the school day. (As a teacher, you can even laminate it!) You can make it small enough to attach to his book bag. It could be a double-sided checklist: one side for leaving from home, the other for leaving from school.

You and probably his teacher will need to help him get used to it, and then gradually wean him to using it himself. With a checklist, he keeps track off all his items, before packing or unpacking his bookbag.

OR, if he is more of an auditory learner, create a song, naming each item that should ALWAYS go in the bookbag ("I've got my lunch box, math folder, reading folder, library book, and Friday folder.") Hold each item up as you say it, having him put it in the bag. Eventually, he should be able to sing the song on his own, putting the items in...

Remember, the sillier the song, the better he'll remember it!

OR, you could even put a silly song to the checklist, thus, attaching both visual and auditory cues to his kinesthetic movements (putting the items in the bag).

Just keep in mind that a first grader will still need an adult to sift through his bookbag at least a few times a week. Actually, I wish my 4th graders' parents would do that!!!

Hope this helps! :o)

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