8 Disorganization Styles of Struggling Boys

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by: Erin Dower
Why is your child struggling in school? In her book "That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life," author Ana Homayoun identifies eight styles of disorganization and distraction that are commonly associated with academically struggling boys. Does your son fall into one of these categories? Find out and get tips excerpted from Homayoun's book. Click here to read our interview with Homayoun and learn more about why boys are lagging in school.
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The Overscheduled Procrastinator
The Overscheduled Procrastinator is a highly-involved student and athlete and a leader among his peers who seems to have the world at his feet, but can never seem to get ahead, meet a deadline without a major meltdown, or turn down another social commitment.

Homayoun's Tip: Encourage your son to become engaged in activities that are meaningful to him. At the same time, help him to be mindful of not overcommitting himself, which means he will be unable to do anything to the degree he would like. Getting home at 9:00 or 10:00 every night is a recipe for an exhausted, low-functioning young person.

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The Scattered Charmer
The Scattered Charmer is happy-go-lucky and fun to be around. He does okay academically, but at a cost, because his forgetfulness and general laissez-faire attitude means you're spending far too much time dropping off forgotten homework assignments or hunting up study sheets.

Homayoun's Tip: Scattered Charmers don't know how to become organized or create a system that would work (because nobody has ever shown them one), and that leads to trouble being consistent and following through on good intentions. The single most important organizational tool your son will need is an effective, organized binder, preferably one for each subject. Read more about Homayoun's organization tips.

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The Tech Master
The Tech Master can easily show you how to program your iPhone or keep the household network up and running, but is much less successful putting those technological temptations aside to buckle down and study.

Homayoun's Tip: Tech Masters may insist that using the latest gadgets will keep them up-to-date and take up less space. I have never seen a junior high or high school student effectively keep track of homework and other activities in a PDA like an iPhone or Blackberry, for one main reason: distractions. If your child has a PDA and likes to use it, he should still use a written planner to track his homework, longterm assignments, and tests and quizzes.

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The Seriously Struggling Student
The Seriously Struggling Student would love to be a master at anything; unfortunately, his lower-than-average processing speed make even a normal academic workload a challenge, and any distraction puts him even farther in the hole. He may have a diagnosed learning disability or other challenges.

Homayoun's Tip: Seriously Struggling Students may have very little self-confidence and a good amount of frustration with their academic abilities. Being a mentor for younger kids can be a rewarding and confidence-building experience. It enables them to step outside their world and look at the needs of others who look up to them.

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The Creative Wonder
The Creative Wonder is a genius at the keyboard, easel, or lens but is in serious need of a workable plan to succeed within the school walls.

Homayoun's Tip: Incorporating his creative pursuits within his academic setting whenever possible – such as making a film for a class project – will help a Creative Wonder become more motivated in the classroom environment.

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The Intellectual Conversationalist
The Intellectual Conversationalist excels in the language arts but somehow can't bring that same level of mastery to the written assignment or test, and can't figure out why.

Homayoun's Tip: Intellectual Conversationalists tend to think they're always right. A good technique to use is to make it seem like his idea or to use examples from his other interests – debate team prep, for instance – to show him how organization can help him become even more successful.

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The Sincere Slacker
The Sincere Slacker has convinced himself that a little effort in just the right place is sufficient and is genuinely puzzled at the lackluster results of this academic philosophy.

Homayoun's Tip: Sincere Slackers can be quieter kids who sometimes lack social self-confidence. Adults sometimes underestimate the wonderful life lessons that are taught through working at a summer job and earning those first few paychecks. The shift in confidence and perspective when boys have responsibility and ownership for their work can be monumental.

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The Seemingly Satisfied Underachiever
The Seemingly Satisfied Underachiever puts in the same modicum of effort as the Sincere Slacker but has no problem with this less-than-stellar result. After all, it's just school, right?

Homayoun's Tip: I encourage students to keep all tests and quizzes (especially the ones with scores that were lower than ideal). The quizzes are usually the basis for the tests and the tests are usually the basis for final exams; by holding on to all of them your son can actually learn from his mistakes, save time, and make life easier (a win-win).

Ana Homayoun holds a master's degree in counseling psychology and is the founder of Green Ivy Educational Consulting. Click here to read our interview with the author.

Click here to purchase That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life.