Many children struggle to be naturally organised, but luckily planning skills and the ability to create order can be learned over time. For children who are anxious or inattentive, helping children be more organised can be a significant challenge, but it is exactly within a more controlled and prepared environment that their symptoms of anxiety and stress will decrease, and concentration and efficiency will improve.
Problems with organisation usually stem from difficulties with executive functioning, which is defined as the neurological skills of mental control and self-regulation that enables us to plan and complete tasks successfully. Learning organisational strategies early on can help children increase their overall productivity.
HELP YOUR CHILDREN BE MORE ORGANISED
Create a family schedule/planner, and put it in a visible place where all family members can see it and access the information. For example, include birthdays, family vacations, due dates of projects, school examinations and other event reminders. This will provide an external structure and an interactive example for children who are not yet able to create a similar planner independently. It is a good idea to involve all family members when compiling and updating the information on the schedule.
Homework Books & Study Areas
Similarly, children should be guided and taught to use a homework book, to effectively keep track of assignments, homework due, exam timetables and specific school events. Parents should originally be quite vigilant and involved in this process, and eventually, children should learn to update and manage their diaries independently.
Children should be provided with a consistent place to do homework. Somewhere quiet and with as little distracters as possible. A desk with a comfortable, upright chair is preferable to a bed or sitting in the family lounge. Parents should also ensure that the necessary tools and stationery is at hand, and stored in the same place consistently, to avoid children wasting time searching for necessary equipment, like crayons, scissors or glue.
Parents should teach and encourage children to use filing systems for school work, for example colour coding each subject. This will help children to keep all relevant notes together and also aid during preparation for tests and exams. Teach them to use clever storage options, such as labeled containers for toys, art supplies, and games.
Prepare for school
Help children to get into the routine of packing their bags the night before school, making sure that all necessary books, clothing, musical instruments and sporting equipment will be remembered. Use the homework book and timetable/planner during this exercise. Again, younger children will need assistance with this at first, and as kids learn and mature they can take personal responsibility for packing their school bags.
Specific time slots
It is important for children to have a predictable routine, with set times for homework, meals, and bedtime. The consistency of this schedule will help children to feel more organised and prepared since they will know what to expect. It also teaches time management. Sometimes an alarm can be incorporated to announce meal times, or the end of homework time for example.
Reward systems help
Parents can incorporate a reward system to reinforce these organisational skills. Children may be motivated with a visible sticker reward chart, which builds up to a bigger reward at the end of a week or month, for example, a dessert treat or family outing. It is important to start small, by setting attainable goals and breaking a bigger organisational task down into manageable smaller tasks. For example, getting ready for school in the morning can be broken down into getting dressed, brushing teeth, remembering the school bag and eating breakfast. Do not overwhelm children with too many tasks at once.
Some more tips
- Children can also have chores that including sorting out and organising items, such as toys and laundry.
- Get into the habit of using checklists for various tasks and home activities, for example, a checklist of things to remember for a day out at the beach, for a sport’s match or family vacation.
- Parents can involve children in cooking, since following a recipe will help them practice planning and gathering ingredients, as well as measuring, following instructions and timing.
Benjamin Franklin said: For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.
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