Organizational Tips for Messy Student Desks

Teach Your Students These Proactive Positive Habits for Neater Workspaces

Frustrated Girl Looking At Many Books On Desk
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Neat desks are essential to help students build constructive study habits, organizational skills, and a clear mind for concentration. That positive feeling you get when you walk into your classroom in the morning and things are all straightened up from the afternoon before -- it works the same for students. When they have clean desks, they will feel good about school in general and the whole classroom has a better atmosphere for learning.

Here are four organizational issues and the simple strategies that will help students keep their desks as neat and structured as possible.  

1. Little Stuff is Everywhere

The Solution: A plastic shoebox-size container, which can be bought at any big box store like Wal-mart or Target, is a cheap and lasting solution that keeps all of the little things together in one place. No more pencils, calculators, or crayons stuffed in the nooks and crannies of a desk. Once you buy a set of these containers, they'll last you years (and save you at least a dozen or more gray hairs!).

2. Loose Paper Explosions

The Solution: If you look in your students' desks and see countless loose papers flying all around, then you need a tried and true solution -- the "Neat Folder". It's simple -- just give each student a folder in which to keep the loose papers that they will need again in the future. With all of the items consolidated, the inside of the desk assumes a more organized and sophisticated look. (Well, at least as sophisticated as a 30-year-old school desk can look.) Give students each color-coded folders that correlate with each subject. For example, a blue folder is for math, a red folder is for social studies, green is for science, and orange is language arts.

3. There Isn't Enough Room

The Solution: If there are simply too many items in your students' desks, consider keeping some of the less-used books in a common area, to be distributed only when needed. Take a critical look at what you're asking children to store in their desks. If it's too much for comfort, alleviate some of the items in competition for precious storage space. Every little bit makes a difference, so try creating space on the bookshelf just for student textbooks. This will help alleviate all of that extra clutter in their desks.

4. Students Just Won't Keep Their Desks Clean

The Solution: As soon as it's tidied up, it transforms back into its formerly disastrous state. Some students just can't seem to keep their desks clean for any length of time. Consider implementing a program of consequences and/or rewards to motivate the student to maintain the proper standards of desk cleanliness. Maybe the student has to miss recess, maybe he or she can work towards earning a privilege. Find a plan that works for that student and stick to it.

Edited by Janelle Cox

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Your Citation
Lewis, Beth. "Organizational Tips for Messy Student Desks." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Lewis, Beth. (2020, August 27). Organizational Tips for Messy Student Desks. Retrieved from Lewis, Beth. "Organizational Tips for Messy Student Desks." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).