From an early age, children benefit from having structure and order in their lives. Children feel secure when they can depend on an outcome.
As children develop, they become more involved with the world around them and how the world relates to them.
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By teaching children to be organized, parents foster a sense of confidence and independence in their children, and provide them with a framework for future scholastic success.
Organization is a skill that needs to be developed and nurtured. As toddlers and preschoolers, children absorb information at an amazing rate.
One way children learn is by modeling behavior. By engaging your child in tasks such as sorting and classifying, you encourage logical and mathematical thinking and create opportunities for your child to develop important organizational skills.
Some great ideas on how to make this fun are:
1. Use colored plastic bins to sort and put away toys for your child.
Sort blocks by shape, size or color. Organize toys by type and group similar toys together.
2. Let your preschooler help sort or put away laundry.
Color code drawers to identify and classify their contents. Organize socks: kid- sized socks/mommy-sized socks; socks with stripes/socks without stripes, etc.
3. Make charts using both pictures and words to plot your activities and post your schedule.
Frequently refer to the chart to help reinforce concepts like learning the days of the week, telling time, and understanding relationships to time such as “yesterday” and “tomorrow” and more abstract concepts like “before” and “after.”
There are so many games you can make out of sorting. Use whatever is at your disposal and make a game out if it! Always be sure to make tasks age-appropriate for your child.
A task that is too difficult will result in frustration and will work against the goal of building confidence.
As children enter school, organization and time management become more important. Children have more and more responsibilities as they progress in their intellectual and emotional development.
On top of class schedules, homework assignments, classroom rules, and interaction with classmates, children have additional responsibilities at home as well.
Through consistency and reinforcement, good organizational skills contribute to a well-adjusted child. According to John Stamm, Ph.D., and Bill Stockton, School Psychologist, in their report Psych Savvy: Children and Organizational Skills (1993), “School failure and unhappiness in the school setting can be often traced to poor organizational skills.”
Evidence shows that children having trouble “dramatically improved their school performance because of assistance in becoming better organized.”
Another benefit of teaching children organizational skills, is that parents will reap the rewards of a less chaotic home-life.
4. Get your children involved in the organizational process.
Provide guidance, but allow them to make choices and decisions.
This empowers your child and helps build confidence. Children are more likely to internalize the lessons you offer them when they take part in the process.
5. Provide your child with a planner.
This organizational tool can be used in many ways: Your school-aged child can record homework assignments, create schedules, plan ahead, keep track of upcoming events and assignment due dates and, most importantly, develop a sense of independence and control.
6. Work with your child and develop timetables.
Designate set time frames and create schedules for events, homework assignments, projects, etc.
Assist your child in determining the amount of time a task will require, and when is best for him to perform the task. Setting these boundaries together will allow children to manage their time more
Utilize a timer if children have difficulty understanding the concept of time. Let your child “see” what a half an hour is, then she can better determine the time necessary for tasks she wishes to
Keep in mind; use a timer only to provide reference points for younger children, not to put limitations on time.
7. Help your child identify the steps required to complete a task.
By breaking a task into smaller, more manageable parts, children are given the opportunity to plan, prioritize and assign an order to what needs to be accomplished.
Children learn so much by modeling our behavior. Use the tools that work for you with your child. If you typically work off a to-do list, then create lists with your child.
Share the steps you are planning to use when working to complete a task or project. Use your own organizational skills to help your child be successful.
8. Be consistent.
Set the groundwork and provide support for your child to be successful. Gather the things needed for the next day the night before to avoid the morning scramble.
Make a practice of picking things up before bed and planning out outfits for the next day. Each night, put book-bags in the same place, packed and ready to go.
9. Develop routines.
Have a separate time-block in your schedule for homework; bath time; clean-up; reading; etc.
Children benefit from having a schedule they can count on and need your guidance to achieve stability in their lives and to help them be successful managers of their own time.
Having worked with children in a school setting and as a parent, I have seen how much good organizational skills impact children.
Children who are better organized exhibit confidence and are better equipped to handle a variety of situations, including peer relations. Good organizational skills contribute to better behavior and help to create happy, well-rounded children!
Written by Denise Scarbro. Reprinted with permission.
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