Developing good organizational skills is essential for success in school and in life. However, most children are not born with natural organizational skills. These skills need to be taught and modeled. Here are 10 strategies parents can use to help their children develop good organizational skills:
1. Develop a housekeeping schedule. Develop and establish a routine for your children. Having a predictable set of routines will provide them with structure and give them a sense of security. As part of the routine, schedule regular times for homework, dinner, bedtime, recess, and television viewing. Also, be a good role model and establish a routine for yourself as well.
2. Have a master schedule. Teach your kids to stay organized and avoid schedule conflicts by having a large wall calendar for the whole household. Use it to jot down your family’s social engagements, appointments, sports activities, school days off, and other important home and school events. Also ask your children to mark the dates when they have to take exams or projects.
3. Use checklists. Help your children develop the habit of keeping “to do” lists. Use checklists to write down homework, chores, etc. Ask each of your children to keep a small notepad or notebook dedicated to the homework list. Crossing completed items off the list will keep him on track and give him a sense of accomplishment.
4. Designate a study area. Establish a specific area in your home to study. This area doesn’t have to be a separate room, but it should be quiet, well-lit, and free from distractions. Also, it should be stocked with all the necessary supplies and materials. For young children, designate a place where you can easily supervise them and encourage good study habits.
5. Establish a study time. Your children should have a set time each day for study and homework. Even if they don’t have homework, the time set aside should be used to review the day’s lessons, read, write in a journal, or work on an upcoming project.
6. Prioritize homework. Before your children start doing their homework, ask them to number their homework in the order in which it should be done. They should start with the most difficult one and then move on to easier assignments. This way, the hardest work will be done before your kids get too tired.
7. Organize school papers. Help your kids keep track of papers by organizing them in a binder or folder. This will help them review material covered in class and organize material later to prepare for tests and quizzes. Use dividers to separate each class in a binder, or use multiple color-coded notebooks (red for spelling, green for math, etc.) for each class or subject. Also have separate folders labeled “to do” and “done”.
Use the “to do” folder to keep homework and organize worksheets, notices and items that need to be signed off by parents. Use “completed” to keep completed assignments and documents that need to be returned to school.
8. Declutter the bags. Each week, have your children sort through their bags of books, binders, and folders and remove all unnecessary materials and trash. Returned tests and marked proofs should be organized and kept in a separate folder at home.
9. Prepare everything the night before. Make mornings less hectic by teaching your children to put their homework and books in a binder before going to bed. The next day’s clothes, shoes, socks and accessories should also be arranged in advance. This will reduce morning panic and get your kids ready quickly.
10. Provide support. Help your kids develop organizational skills by photocopying checklists and schedules and taping them on the fridge. Remind them to write calendar dates and keep their materials organized.
Elizabeth Hamilton, ME, MA, is a teacher with 31 years of professional experience. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.