Helping children develop organizational skills early can help equip them for success throughout school and later in life.
Here are a few “tried and true” tips for teaching your child organizational skills:
- Prepare ahead of time for the following day. Help your child learn to lay out their clothes, pack their lunch, and organize their backpack so that everything is ready for the morning. Planning ahead helps reduce the stress and confusion during the morning routine.
- Children who have difficulty with organization can feel overwhelmed and they often do not know how to begin a task with multiple steps/components. Setting up checklists for children can take away a lot of the mental and emotional strain that comes with tackling larger tasks/chores. Checklists can be created for almost anything: for how to complete daily routines to specific homework assignments. As children get older, it is important to teach them how to break down tasks into smaller chunks and create checklists on their own.
- Create a master calendar and post it where it is widely visible. Help your child to plan ahead for: homework assignments, events, sports practices, family outings, and special events at school. If your child has a lot of homework, it may be beneficial to have a “school/homework master calendar” and a “family master calendar”.
- Set up a designated study space and a homework routine. Children benefit from having consistent, structured schedules to complete homework. An ideal homework space should be away from potential distractions. This space should also have a clear work surface, good lighting, and a comfortable/supportive chair. Also, it is important to ensure that all supplies are at the homework/study space so that your child does not spend their time looking for and collecting materials they need (e.g., pens, pencils, highlighters, calculators etc.). A homework routine should also be set up to suit your child’s particular learning style. Some children have shorter attention spans and benefit from working for short periods of time and then taking a break whereas other children benefit from sitting down for a longer period of time and working on tasks to completion.
- Label where items belong. To help your child consistently stay organized, label where different items go such as coats, backpacks etc. It may also be beneficial to label different shelves in a child’s closet so they can learn how to keep items organized and in the same location.
- Consider setting up a corkboard where a child can hang important papers that might otherwise get lost. At the end of each week, help your child decide which papers are no longer needed and can be recycled.
- Organize a weekly clean-up of book bags and notebooks.
Helping your child become organized is an on-going task that requires practice, patience, and praise. Remember that organizational skills need to be sufficiently practiced before they become a part of your child’s everyday routine. Keep encouraging your child and monitoring his/her progress.