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Gather necessary materials
Youngsters can waste a lot of time tracking down things like pencils, paper, rulers, etc. when beginning their homework. To avoid this, stock your child's study area with these materials and any other he is likely to need, such as a dictionary, highlighters, pens, scissors, glue, tape, colored pencils, stapler and staples, etc.
It may also be helpful to set up file folders for each subject your child is taking in school to keep track of necessary papers, such as long-term assignment directions, tests and homework that have been passed back (to help in studying for the next test), etc. These folders should not be used for storing homework, since your child is likely to then leave it at home and forget to take it to school. Completed homework should be placed in the child's backpack, trapper keeper, or notebook as soon as it is finished to ensure it gets to school.
A plastic bin may be an ideal place to store study materials; if you have more than one child, you may want to have one bin for each child. The advantage to this is that these are portable - just in case you have a child whose preferred study style is to work in a different place each night!
You may also want to have a second container (such as a dishpan) which your child can "dump" their school things in as soon as they get home from school. This will help avoid last minute frantic searches for permission slips, library books, messages from the principal, notices of meetings, etc.