Developing Organisation Skills in Kids

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

(c) Quirky Kid

 

Here are some questions for you:

  • How many times do you have to ask your fourteen year old to get started on their homework?
  • How many funky old sandwiches have you retrieved from the bottom of your ten year olds’ school bag?
  • Has your preschooler ever been ready to leave when you are?

Organising your kids can be trying but helping them to develop these skills for themselves will make your life and theirs much easier. As with all aspects of parenting, our expectations of our children need to be developmentally appropriate (most four year olds have trouble sitting down to read a story the first time they are asked, let alone ticking off items on a to do list) but that doesn’t mean we can’t help our children to develop good habits early on.

Routines and Time Management

To start instilling organisational skills in kids early on (and to help keep all members of the household stay sane), establish simple household routines and stick to them. For example,

  • in the morning we eat our breakfast, brush our teeth and then get dressed;
  • in the afternoon we unpack our lunch box as soon as we walk in the door and then eat a healthy snack together.

For important routines like the morning rush and bedtime, you can even use fun visuals to help your child stay on track without constant reminders from you. Make a step-by-step checklist with pictures for each “to do”, for extra fun, stick these pictures to a poster with velcro and let your child peel each step off as it is completed.

If you are organised, they will be too, children learn through watching others around them. Maybe not quite as well organised as you are, but it will help! Organise yourself with the little things so that they don’t pile up, for example, as soon as a permission slip comes home – read it, sign it and put it back in their bag – job done! In this way you can lead by example and then compliment this by talking about time management. Use calendars, family planners, white boards or pin boards around the house and collaborate as a family on organisation. Using a weekly schedule which includes things like school, homework and extracurricular activities, will keep the family on track. Including “down time” and time with friends on the schedule will help to teach your child about balance.

Some Tricks of the Trade

Different strategies will work in different families but here are a few tried and true techniques to help your child to develop organisational skills:

  • Break down big projects or assignments into small, manageable chunks. Once this has been achieved, encourage your child to plan out when and how they will complete each “chunk”. This is also helpful for procrastinators as it takes away the feeling of being overwhelmed by an insurmountable task. Provide regular praise for having a go and completing plans.

  • Make it a game! There are lots of ways to improve organisation that can actually be fun. “Beat The Buzzer” is a great way to get things moving in the morning.

  • Help your child prioritise. Improve homework focus by encouraging your child to work out what needs to be done and turn it into a checklist. Crossing out or ticking off items on the list will be both rewarding and motivating.

  • Allocate places in the house for important activities like studying. This cuts down on time wasted looking for materials and will help them to mentally click into “homework mode”.

  • Use timers for anything that needs to be time limited, such as computer and TV time. This is also great to promote sharing and turn taking in activities in which everyone wants equal time.

  • Colour code books according to subject and match these with timetables and other relevant materials. This will help your child to find what they need quickly and remember where they need to be or what they should be doing.

Putting it into Practice

Talk about the new ideas you are introducing to help them become more organised and why this is important. Make sure that they feel involved in planning and timetabling so that they don’t feel that this is just another set of rules that are being imposed upon them. This will also be important in helping them to develop the skills for themselves rather than having you do it for them.

When you catch your child demonstrating good organisational skills (eg. being ready to leave on time, following a step in the new routine) provide them with some specific and meaningful praise about what a great effort they are putting in (eg. “thank you Ella for putting on your shoes and taking your bag to the car so we could be on time for school today. You are very good at that”).

Introduce new strategies one at a time and provide plenty of rewards and praise along the way. Remember that teaching kids to be organised can be fun and with a little creativity, the possibilities are endless!

References

Hannan, Tim. Learning Disorders in Children: Recent advances in research and practice. InPsych, December 2013

Recommended Resources.

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27 Responses to “Developing Organisation Skills in Kids”

July 19, 2014 at 5:51 am, Dan Yang said:

Teaching your children the basics of organization is one of the main lessons that will aid them as they grow up and eventually move out and live on their own. Developing good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:12 pm, Year 6 Student said:

Hi i am in year six my task was to tell you what things work for me. I put an Alarm on to wake up and i have a shower. Some things i haven’t tried at home is making a list of what to do. I also haven’t tried making it a game to beat my brothers to get ready in the mornings.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm, Year six studeny said:

Hi, I am a year six student and our class has read through your blog. I have tried making a list of jobs I have to do them, but it didn’t work at all, I always had something else that I had to do at that time. If I do that again I will have to prioritise the things I have to do. I think that teaching kids to memorise there jobs can help them be more organised.

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September 06, 2015 at 1:07 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Thank you for reading our blog, Bell Glad to know that making a list helps you to get the jobs done!

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August 31, 2015 at 1:14 pm, Year 6 Student said:

Hi,
I am a year 6 student. I have a dog so my sister and I choose night or morning to feed. This helps us get to school on time. With the beat the buzzer, my mum says in the morning we are leaving at 8:30 so me and my sister have to have everything ready, which works well. The checklist one doesn’t work for my family. Because in the morning we are very tired and in a different mood. That’s all from me today,
Thank you

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September 06, 2015 at 1:07 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Doing the dog feed is a very important task! Well done for sharing the task with your sister!

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August 31, 2015 at 1:15 pm, Jeff said:

Hi I am a year 6 student and I read advice on being organised I think that this post is very useful to remember to keep organised in the mornings and when we come home from school. At home in the mornings Mum will take my I pod off me until I get ready in the mornings this really helps me I think that is a really good suggestion to put it on your blog.

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September 06, 2015 at 1:08 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Oh, Thank you Jeff. I have to keep reminding myself to stay organised too!

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August 31, 2015 at 1:16 pm, Liza said:

Hello Quirky Kid
I am a Yr 6 Student.
I’m not very organised at home or at school. At home I walk in the front door drop my bag on the floor go straight to the cupboard and grab something to eat, while eating I play on my IPad and talk to friends. At night I have an alarm clock that is set to the same time every day. I go to bed at the same time every night. Mum always asks me if I have homework but I always just say that I’m too busy and I will do it later. When I say later I mean in 2 weeks. I have tried to be organised but it just hasn’t worked. I still try but I FAIL
I unpack my bag in the morning when I’m packing my bag for school. I always get into trouble for not giving mum notes.
I’m very, very lazy in the morning. I have a set time to get out the door to get to school on time. Mum always asks me if I have homework but I always just say that I’m too busy and I will do it later. When I say later I mean in 2 weeks. I have tried to be organised but it just hasn’t worked. I still try but I FAIL I always play my IPad when eating my breakfast, but when I have finished my breakfast I still just play it. Mum is asleep in the morning from working at night so I have to try and get ready myself. My brother is normally ready before I wake up.
From
Liza

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September 06, 2015 at 1:09 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Hello Liza! Keep on trying Liza. Soon you will see the benefits of staying organised!

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August 31, 2015 at 1:17 pm, Year 6 Student said:

I am a grade six student in the mornings I find we need a routine to help be more organised. My sister gets up early to catch the bus. She always sets up an alarm and I wake up to that. She has a shower and mum drives her to the bus stop by the time she comes back we are to be dressed and getting our breakfast I am really slow at getting dressed so I don’t get my breakfast untill 10 minutes to head to school. I brush my teeth and get in the car about 8.30 and I wake up at 7.40.

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September 06, 2015 at 1:10 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Yes, I agree Bell. Routines do help keeping things in order.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:18 pm, jack young said:

Hi I am a year six student and I read your advice to being organised and I agree with most of these and I think that this is very useful. I suggest that you should also include when your child has done a chore or some kind of work you could give them a reward that would encourage them to continue working? Good job!

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September 06, 2015 at 1:11 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Rewards, Rewards! We will make sure to include that tip at the very end Jack! Thank you for pointing that out!

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August 31, 2015 at 1:18 pm, Year six student said:

I am a year six student in the morning the routine I have is my mum comes in and turns my light on and if I’m still not awake my brother comes into wake me up before he has a shower then I get dress and never have time to have breakfast because my brother is an early person and always wants to leave early.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm, year 6 student said:

Hi I’m a year 6 student I think I’m organised at feeding my dog every morning and night I am also organised at doing my bed in the morning and putting my clothes in the dryer.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm, year 6 student said:

Hi I am a year 6 student and think some of the things a good and they help me be organised and I think things that help me be organised is having an alarm early so I don’t have to rush getting ready. Also what helps me is doing homework before playing IPad (etc.) but sometimes this does not work. I also think that you’re not allowed to use your iPad whiling eating diner.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm, A grade 6 Student said:

Hi,
I keep myself organized by making a list of jobs in my head so I do them one by one. I also remember where I put all my things in the morning so I can get to them easier.
By a grade 6 Student .

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August 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm, Sudent 6 said:

I am a year six student and to help me be organised I make a routine. My routine is getting changed first, I then brush my teeth and that’s it. I do this routine pretty much day.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:21 pm, year 6 student said:

Hey,
I’m a year six and my task was to tell you what organization tips/skills works for me and my family. I am not good at staying organized so mum helps me out a bit, for things like getting me up in the morning. The thing that she does to get me up in the morning is to turn the light on! She also convinces me to do my homework by telling me she will get me a lolly or something like that but never does. The way my mum makes me pack my own lunch is to make me horrible boring lunches so I make my own.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:21 pm, shep said:

Hi
I am a year six student, My routine for getting ready is to wake up whenever, eat my breakfast, put my clothes on, do my teeth and pack my bag. I’m normally the first one to get ready and I have a lot of time to spare. I don’t set a time to get up because I don’t know how to.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:21 pm, Year 6 student said:

Hi, I am a year 6 student and our class has read through your blog. I really enjoyed all of your tips and tricks to staying organised. I think that I do a lot of those anyway but I will try to use them some more. I think a really good one that helps my family is to have a planer so we know when everything is and what time it’s at to ensure that we aren’t late.
Thanks

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August 31, 2015 at 1:22 pm, Grade Sixer said:

Hello! I’m a grade six student and growing up I didn’t really have any organization helpers, but to be honest I’m not very organised at all. I almost always get my homework done and in the morning I’m always ready in time. My mum never lectures me about home work because she says if I want to get it done and be a good student I’ll do it by myself and I do, she doesn’t lecture me about being organised or anything because she knows if I want to be somewhere or do something I’ll do it and be organised for it. I think what my mum does is great because me and my brothers almost always completed everything in time and if we really want to do it it’s done. The only time my mum lectures us is when we are late for school or she finds notes that where meant to be in to school by now in our bags. So that’s all thanks a grade sixer.

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August 31, 2015 at 1:23 pm, aussie kid said:

Hi I’m a year 6 student from Australia,
And growing up I have never really had any routine, as like homework routine, packing my lunch etc, but my dad is always nagging me and my brother to pack our lunches and clean our rooms, blah, blah, blah. But honestly sometimes when my dad and mum let me do my own thing before completing task, like homework, it really helps because I know I will always do it. I’m not the type of kid that doesn’t listen in class, and the kid who doesn’t ever do their homework, because, I do! I always do. I enjoy learning about new things, and I think I will eventually get into a routine.
🙂

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August 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm, year 6 Boy said:

Dear Quirky Kid
I am a year 6 boy and I am much organised in the morning, I do the same thing every morning.
I get to school on time because of my organisation but sometimes I am late because of my slow brother who is at the pace of a snail. When I have homework I get it done but once in a blue moon I can’t be bothered so I say to my parents I don’t have any.
When I was little I had a sticker chart and when I got a lot of stickers I got a new toy but if I got a lot of crosses toys get taken off me.

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September 07, 2015 at 2:50 pm, Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff) said:

Thank you Ashton, I am also much more organised earlier in the mornings! I also had a brother who made me late to school – oh wait, or was I the one making him late.

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