Is this your child? Late homework, or doesn’t turn it in at all, forgets about tests and quizzes, a backpack jammed full of papers, losing things? Yes, this is typical kid stuff, but teaching them how to get organized is critical to their success and feelings of self-worth.
In addition to organizational skills, good time management systems and decision making skills are critical to success in the world. If these skills are lacking, then we’re at risk of not being the best we can be in our careers or worse yet outright failing on the job!
This is why it is so important to teach your child how to get organized, utilize good time management systems, and give them the opportunity to learn to make decisions for themselves.
If your child is disorganized and can’t make a decision on their own, they will not excel in school! Guaranteed!
The needs for organized living, making good sound decisions, and time management, increases as your child moves through the school system too. For instance, when they make the jump from grade school to junior high, their schoolwork is more challenging, they have more classes to keep track off, and their outside activities increase.
As kids get older, their decision making process becomes even more critical too. Decisions they make when they reach the teen years have the ability to alter the course of their lives.
There is hope, and if you teach your child how to get organized and make good decisions, they will excel which, will have a snowball effect on them.
They will achieve high marks in school, they’ll feel better about themselves, the teacher will be happier with them as they'll see them as wanting to learn, and you’ll have less stress worrying about your child.
So, for our purposes here, we're going to teach your kids how to get organized and give them good sound decision making skills now! And, for excellent tips on time management for teens and kids, see my page on Effective Time Management.
First, before you teach your child how to get organized, make sure you’re in order! Seriously, get your home on a schedule. You cannot teach your child how to get organized if you're setting a bad example. Make mealtimes, wake up times, and bedtimes consistent for your kids. Kids thrive on stable and consistent routines, as they ensure kids are rested and ready for school.
So, if schoolwork is a problem, let's start there and help them with the organization tips below. Yes, help them, don’t do it for them. While teaching your child how to get organized, work alongside with them to create a system of organization that works for them.
Developing your child’s decision making skills will work beautifully into teaching them how to get organized. Ask them a lot of questions and let them make decisions. For instance, below you’ll read about the backpack dump. I ask a lot of questions about what’s going on in that backpack. I let my kids decide if something stays or goes.
Do the Backpack Dump
See the page School Work Help to tame the paper storm in your kid's backpack. Be warned, this isn’t a one time only deal. The backpack dump needs to be completed every so often, depending on the child’s age and organization level. But, it's a great ongoing way to teach your kid how to get organized.
I see the quickest turn around in my kid’s schoolwork and attitude when we do a backpack dump.
Speaking of backpacks, these are placed in the dirtiest places and I cringe when my kids bring theirs inside. Encourage your kids to hang them up when using the restroom at school and to not put them on their beds, the dining room table, or the kitchen counter when they get home. After the day is done, I have my kids place their backpacks outside in cubbies to grab and go in the morning. See the page on Entryway Storage Tips for great storage tips on how to get your kid’s daily essentials organized.
Keep Track of Their Schoolwork
Do this through their teachers, papers they bring home, and if available online.
My kid’s schools have online access to their assignments, tests, grades, attendance, etc. This is an awesome program that I log onto as needed to keep in touch with what’s going on in my kid’s classroom. I can then ask questions as needed.
Last semester while checking online, I noticed an “F” on one of my daughter’s grades! She has never even received a "C" before, so I was really concerned. I asked her why she missed an assignment and received an "F". She said she didn’t know and I told her to make sure and follow up with her teacher in addition to me e-mailing the teacher. It turns out it was an error that thankfully got caught right before progress reports went out.
Keeping track of your kid’s grades is a super way to help them learn how to get organized in school. You can see if there are any problems and start asking your kid questions right away. Minor problems such as your child not comprehending a subject can be dealt with quickly relieving their stress level. Bigger problems such as learning disabilities can be found out a lot quicker too.
By tracking our daughter’s math work closely, we noticed she would receive 100% and "A+’s" on all her assignments, but barely "B’s" and sometimes "C’s" on the tests. In asking her questions and talking with the teacher, we found out she was pressured to finish her tests on time and would rush through problem solving and not re-check her work. Bingo, problem solved, she now relaxes herself before a test and takes her time to recheck her work. She's now receiving "A’s" on all her math tests. She’s happy and less stressed.
Organize Their Homework
As your child progresses through school the amount of homework they receive will increase. At first, you will have to work with them on how to get organized when doing homework.
For instance, if your child has a hard time with math, then have them tackle that first to get it out of the way. Or, have them start a subject that’s easy for them and then move onto the tough stuff, and finish off with some easy work. Ask them what they would like to start with and let them decide the order of their homework.
Designate a Place for Study Time
It’s best to have your child do their homework at a desk. A simple desk with a drawer in the middle to store supplies and drawers on the side for their binders and extra paper works fine. You want your kids to have everything accessible when they study so they don’t have to get up to grab something.
For two kids sharing a desk, you can use a regular farm table with a drawer in the middle for supplies along with a couple of chairs.
Provide a small dictionary and thesaurus for them to keep on their desk too. If your kid has a computer and access to the internet, teach them how to get onto www.merriam-webster.com to use the dictionary and thesaurus. Use your judgment on this one if you think a computer may be too distracting to finishing up their homework.
Designate a Set Time for Homework Everyday
Usually right after school works best for getting homework done. My kids like to relax and have a snack, then tackle their homework. Even if my kids don’t have homework, I ask them to review notes for upcoming tests for about thirty minutes and get their schoolwork organized for the next day.
Making decisions are a daily part of our adult lives. Make the right one and things go smooth… Make the wrong one and at best, we usually get a lesson to learn. Although decision making isn’t always cut and dry, we can go a long way to help our kids with this process in teaching this critical skill to them.
Sometimes we just don’t have the time to bring our kids into the process of making a decision, but we have to. It’s critical to start this process early and increase the responsibility level of their decision making as they grow.
For instance, I pull out two shirts for my toddler to wear in the morning and let him decide which one he’s going to wear. All my kids know I pick what’s for breakfast and dinner and they get to choose what’s for lunch (within reason of course). You get the point…
I work with my preteen on friendship choices and decisions. I have talked with her and she knows that at this point in her life, the people she decides to hang out with determine the course of the rest of her life.
We talk about her friends and how they treat her, how they treat their parents, and what kinds of grades they get. I ask a lot of questions like, do they have boyfriends?, do they respect their teachers?, do they do drugs or drink alcohol?, etc.
Based on my daughter’s answers, I give her advice about her friends and point out their behavioral patterns and it’s up to her to decide if she’s going to allow them in her life.
So, start small and increase the responsibility tied to decision making the older your child gets.
See Organize Kids for more great tips to teach your child how to get organized. And, remember to support your children through this process of developing organization skills, acquiring good time management systems, and developing critical decision making skills… Don’t do it for them, and you will give them the gift of life long skills to help them on the road to success.
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