This is a 2-part blog about getting your child organized giving tips and advice. Part 1 focuses on how to organize and part 2 focuses on how to get started!
Most kids generate a little chaos and disorganization. Yours might flit from one thing to the next — forgetting books at school, leaving towels on the floor, and failing to finish projects once started.
You’d like them to be more organized and to stay focused on tasks, such as homework. Is it possible?
Yes! A few kids seem naturally organized, but for the rest, organization is a skill learned over time. With help and some practice, kids can develop an effective approach to getting stuff done.
And you’re the perfect person to teach your child, even if you don’t feel all that organized yourself!
Easy as 1-2-3
From Teeth Brushing to Book Reports
To get started, introduce the 1-2-3 method and help your child practice it in daily life. Even something as simple as brushing teeth requires this approach, so you might use this example when introducing the concept:
- Getting organized: Go to the bathroom and get out your toothbrush and toothpaste. Turn on the water.
- Staying focused: Dentists say to brush for 3 minutes, so that means keep brushing, even if you hear a really good song on the radio or you remember that you wanted to call your friend. Concentrate and remember what the dentist told you about brushing away from your gums.
- Getting it done: If you do steps 1 and 2, step 3 almost takes care of itself. Hurray, your 3 minutes are up and your teeth are clean! Getting it done means finishing up and putting on the finishing touches. With teeth brushing, that would be stuff like turning off the water, putting away the toothbrush and paste, and making sure there’s no toothpaste foam on your face!
With a more complex task, like completing a book report, the steps would become more involved, but the basic elements remain the same.
Here’s how you might walk your child through the steps:
1. Getting Organized
Explain that this step is all about getting ready. It’s about figuring out what kids need to do and gathering any necessary items. For instance: “So you have a book report to write. What do you need to do to get started?” Help your child make a list of things like: Choose a book. Make sure the book is OK with the teacher. Write down the book and the author’s name. Check the book out of the library. Mark the due date on a calendar.
Then help your child think of the supplies needed: The book, some note cards, a pen for taking notes, the teacher’s list of questions to answer, and a report cover. Have your child gather the supplies where the work will take place.
As the project progresses, show your child how to use the list to check off what’s already done and get ready for what’s next. Demonstrate how to add to the list, too. Coach your child to think, “OK, I did these things. Now, what’s next? Oh yeah, start reading the book” and to add things to the list like finish the book, read over my teacher’s directions, start writing the report.
2. Staying Focused
Explain that this part is about doing it and sticking with the job. Tell kids this means doing what you’re supposed to do, following what’s on the list, and sticking with it.
It also means focusing when there’s something else your child would rather be doing — the hardest part of all! Help kids learn how to handle and resist these inevitable temptations. While working on the report, a competing idea might pop into your child’s head: “I feel like shooting some hoops now.” Teach kids to challenge that impulse by asking themselves “Is that what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Explain that a tiny break to stretch a little and then get right back to the task at hand is OK. Then kids can make a plan to shoot hoops after the work is done. Let them know that staying focused is tough sometimes, but it gets easier with practice.
3. Getting it Done
Explain that this is the part when kids will be finishing up the job. Talk about things like copying work neatly and asking a parent to read it over to help find any mistakes.
Coach your child to take those important final steps: putting his or her name on the report, placing it in a report cover, putting the report in the correct school folder, and putting the folder in the backpack so it’s ready to be turned in.
Check back on Thursday for part 2.