Good organizational skills are important to becoming successful in our society. They can help kids and adults do well in school, at work, and at home. Yet teaching these skills to our children is tough, especially when there are so many distractions. Often, kids just want to watch TV or play.
This list should help.
Keeping a Schedule
There’s a term in psychology that refers to getting work done first, and rewarding oneself later. It’s “delaying gratification.” The idea is that if you can delay gratification, you’ll have more success in every aspect of your life, feel more pride, and still be able to enjoy yourself.
One way we teach children this is to tell them they can have their dessert after they finish their dinner, or that they can watch television after they finish their homework.
Writing up a schedule can help with that, and you may want to have a schedule for yourself and your partner as well, so that your child knows you’re all sticking to it. For you, it may include dropping your child off at school and going to work in the morning, then getting home, straightening up the living room, helping your child with homework, making dinner, then enjoying some television or reading time. For your child, it may include making their bed in the morning, going to school, staying for sports practice, coming home and getting their homework done, straightening up their room, eating dinner, helping with the dishes, then time for games, television, or reading, before taking a shower and going to bed.
Strict schedules can feel taxing, but in time, your child will learn to do everything they’re supposed to, even if they change the order.
Keeping a Calendar
This is closely related to keeping a schedule, but instead of a list of the chores and such your child does on various days of the week, it will list upcoming events. Pick out a wall calendar with your child, one they really like, and put it on their wall where they can reach it. Have them note in it things like upcoming birthdays, the first day of school, and the first day of winter break. When they come home with an invitation to a friend’s birthday party, remind them to put it in their calendar. (You should do the same. You don’t want to forget to take your child to their best friend’s party!)
This handy skill will help your kids develop other organizational skills. It even helps employees at various service jobs, including self storage, to follow procedures correctly until they have them memorized.
Make lists of the steps to take when doing certain chores. You may have one for doing the dishes, and it may include items like “Rinse dishes,” and “Arrange plates sideways in dishwasher” and “Put silverware in, handle-side up.”
Talk to your kids, and write the lists with them. You might even have them write down the items and decorate the lists, then have them laminated, before putting them on the wall beside where the chore starts.
Chores like taking out the trash and putting a new liner in the garbage pail, or tidying one’s bedroom, are great in that they teach your children to keep their environment clean. However, other chores can go a bit farther and teach your kids valuable sorting and organizing skills.
This can include doing the dishes, especially since your child will need to sort them into the dishwasher or put them in their proper places in cupboards. There are a few others though that kids just might have fun with.
Assign your child to organize a bookshelf. Depending on their age, you may have them organize alphabetically by author, or by category, then author. Do you have a bunch of photographs that need sorted? Your child might enjoy doing that, putting them in categories like vacation, school, and so on.
This can be done in a day planner, or in a blank notebook. Take your child to a drug store or stationary shop and help them pick one that they like. While you’re at it, you may want to get one for yourself. For teens and adults, Moleskine notebooks are particularly nice looking and durable.
Your child’s notebook will be especially handy for jotting down homework assignments, but it can be used for more than that. Your child might find a book they’d like to read, and they can write the name and author in the notebook. They might have an idea for a Lego creation they want to put together, and can write that down. In other words, it’s a place to put thoughts and ideas they don’t want to forget, a skill many adults don’t have.
Have a Place for Everything
In your child’s room, helm them decide where their belongings will all go. For example, each dresser drawer should be for one or two types of clothes. For example, the top drawer should have underwear and socks, the next drawer or two, shirts or blouses, and the bottom drawer, pants. Jackets will go in the closet.
Some of these are pretty standard and obvious. What about toys, though? Does your child have a ton of Legos? They could use some bins for them, and a place in the close or under the bed where those bins belong. The same goes for DVDs, games, and anything else they keep in their bedroom.
Remind them to put their things away when they’re done with them. When kids do this, they’ll never lose their favorite items.
Not Overdoing It
Organization, chores, and homework can be tough for kids, and for adults as well. We all need some time to relax and enjoy ourselves. Kids, especially, need to play, which helps them develop social skills. You can’t control how much homework your child’s teachers give out--and some give out too much--but you can keep their household duties at a manageable level.
When working on these skills with your kids, just remember to have patience. They may resist at first. In time though, they should get used to the household routine, and this will serve them well on their way to adulthood.