Teaching your child organizational skills is something that she will thank you for down the line. This knowledge will stay with her as she applies it at school, work, and beyond.
There are many techniques you can use to teach your child how to keep track of her responsibilities and belongings. Here are some ways to get started:
No one likes a hypocrite. Before you can teach someone to be organized, you have to make sure you are reasonably well organized yourself.
Take time to look at your own organizational methods and skills. Think about what you do to balance all your responsibilities, and take note of your strengths and weaknesses. Your child may end up struggling with the same things you do.
1. Teach Her What You Do
As a parent, you have a ton on your plate. Use that as a starting point.
“Talk to your child about the routines and techniques you use to stay organized,” writes Richard Gallagher, PhD. “Discuss how you manage your time so your child learns how long tasks take and what you do to fit those tasks into your schedule.”
You can talk about how you complete assignments at work, or how you juggle your children’s practices or recitals. Whatever you discuss, this is just a conversation to get your child thinking about different methods she could apply to her own life.
Sharing your responsibilities could make her a bit more appreciative of how much you do. But, hey, that might be wishful thinking.
2. Get a Calendar
Start a family calendar and put it up somewhere your child is sure to see it, such as on the fridge. Add dates of family events, practices, recitals, and homework deadlines. This will help your child identify specific times to study and complete assigned work each day, says Gallagher. Have a conversation about how long it takes to complete each task, and teach your child how to work backwards from the deadline to make sure she’s leaving enough time.
“Although the actual time may change according to the schedule of after-school activities, a discussion about scheduling a regular time will build time management skills,” he adds.
Encourage your child to write her own entries on the calendar as they come up and to reference it when making plans. You might also consider checking schedules and updating the calendar as a family so everyone is on the same page.
3. Create a To Do List and Set Deadlines
Now starts the fun, at least for you: Assigning chores.
It could be a couple of simple tasks, such as vacuuming, washing the dishes, sweeping, or cleaning her room. The best kinds of chores to help develop organizational skills, according to Scholastic, are those that involve sorting or categorizing.
“Grocery shopping, emptying the dishwasher, sorting photos, cleaning out a closet, and other tasks that involve pre-planning, making lists, or arranging things are great choices,” the article says. These could be daily, weekly, or even monthly assignments.
4. Cook Together
Instead of letting your child wait for dinner to be ready, have her help.
Scholastic explains, “Cooking teaches measuring, following directions, sorting ingredients, and managing time — all key elements in organization. Involve your child in meal planning too, challenging [her] to help you put together a shopping list.”
Remember . . .
Change is often slow. Remain patient.
“With patience and consistency, you will be able to help your child learn how to be more organized and adopt new organizational habits that [she] will be able to carry with [her] the rest of [her] life,” says Dr. Borba. “And that’s your goal.”
Borba, Michele (2014). Helping Disorganized Kids Become Organized. Michele Borba. Retrieved from Micheleborba.com.
Gallagher, Richard (2010). Getting It Together: Helping Your Child Organize His Way to Success. The Child Study Center. Retrieved from Aboutourkids.org.
Haupt, Jennifer (2014). Get Your Kids Organized at All Ages. HGTV. Retrieved from HGTV.
Scholastic (2014). 12 Ways to Develop Your Child's Organizational Skills. Scholastic. Retrieved from Scholastic.