Although you expect to know your kids best, especially with how much time you spend with them, teachers frequently realize your children lack organization skills before you do. They see this trend through missed assignments, waiting until the last minute to work on projects, or forgetting classwork and materials at school or home.
Teachers, well, teach your kids a lot of things—which might include organization—but they aren’t actually “organization” teachers. They have more specific topics to cover and a short time to cover them. Children still need to learn organizational skills because a lack of organization in children can lead to increased stress, poor academic performance, and even an inability to plan for the future. What can you do to help?
How to Teach Organizational Skills
Let’s look at how to teach your child organizational skills and habits.
The first place to look when learning how to teach your child organizational skills is in the mirror. Do you struggle with keeping things in their place, planning ahead, or meeting deadlines? Kids learn organizational skills by example and yours is the most important. These tips are just as relevant to you as they are to your child.
There are two kinds of calendars you can use to help your child learn organizational skills. Start with a family calendar. Place it in a highly visible,well-trafficked area of the house. Fill it with events, activities, or appointments. If your child is too young to read, use pictures so they can understand at a glance. This can help the whole family keep their plans in order and avoid overbooking.
The second kind of calendar is a schedule or planner used to keep track of their days or weeks. This is better for older kids or teens. They can write down assignment due dates, upcoming exams, and projects. This is also a disguised opportunity to prepare them for deadlines with more serious stakes. Taxes, doctor appointments, and bills are unavoidable. Teaching them to keep a personal schedule is critical for their future. You can also take advantage of the apps or software available on most smartphones. Check out Troomi phones to find what tools are available to help.
These steps might already start to feel overwhelming to your kids (or yourself) without any experience in organization. A simple tool you can use when learning how to teach organizational skills to children is a checklist. Create a bulleted list of the things you need to accomplish, then cross them off as you complete each task. I use a basic one when I leave the house: keys, phone, wallet, mask, etc. You can use checklists to break down projects into simpler steps, show what assignments still need work, or what chores still need to be completed. If anything feels big and scary, have your kid break it down into a simplified checklist. They might need help at the start but remember, they’re going to have to know how to do this on their own eventually.
Set Up a Work Space
So you’ve set up a calendar, planner, and even worked out a few checklists, but your child still can’t focus on their assignment, loses their pencil, or can’t find their homework. There is a fairy-tale whimsy to the idea of a kid sitting under a shady tree, writing diligently into a notebook, but the reality is that the world is a distracting place. A simple way to help your child focus and overcome distractions is to set aside a designated work space and time. The space doesn’t need to be a lofty office downtown. The kitchen counter, table, or a desk in a bedroom will work, as long as it’s quiet, distraction free (as you can make it), and the materials they need to work are all at hand.
Prepare the Night Before
Now, let’s look at potentially the most chaotic, unorganized time in your child’s day: the morning. There isn’t a lot of time in the morning, between getting ready for school, making the bus or carpool on time, and eating breakfast—and, if you’re like me, you’re running late most of the time. It’s stressful, it’s frantic, and enough is enough. Putting some much-needed organization into your child’s hands can help you create a morning routine and set a better tone for the day. The night before, encourage them to pack their backpack and pick the clothes they’ll wear tomorrow. You can have them lay them out where they are easy to reach. If they’re old enough, they can also pack their own lunches. Prepare in the evenings for productive and (almost) stress-free mornings.
Breathe now. This is the easy step but also the most important. When your child makes progress in learning organizational skills, let them know. Encourage, praise, and cheer them on when they do well. If they are struggling, you can even set up a reward system. That includes you too. You’ve made it this far.
Figuring out how to teach organizational skills to your kids, and even yourself, can be hard, but the results are worth it. It can bring peace, clarify schedules, and improve academic performance. All of it starts with you.