Life Lessons: Teaching Kids Organization 101

Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 10:20 PM

This school year, teach your children one of life's most valuable lessons: how to be organized. While algebra and Latin declensions may be best left to the pros, no one is better equipped to teach Organization 101 than a parent. After all, the basics of organization begin at home. So study up and teach your children well.

Why Organization Matters

Being organized increases productivity and decreases stress: in short organization improves student achievement and reduces the bad stuff. Being organized also increases free time for sports, hobbies and family and friends. Other benefits include:

  • A (relatively) neat desk, book bag and room
  • A workable system for tracking assignments and managing a weekly schedule
  • The ability to tackle big projects that require planning over time
  • Decreased stress; feeling in control, rather than overwhelmed
  • The ability to make healthy lifestyle choices such as time for exercise and a decent bedtime

Getting Started

No one is born organized; coach your students on the basics of organization just as you would any new skill. Also, be sure to equip your student with the right set of tools:

  • Three-Ring Binder: The linchpin of organization; ensure it can hold all papers for a particular grading period.
  • Folders: Three-holed pocket folders corral paperwork. Encourage your child to think about what kind of paper comes home from school, label each folder accordingly.
  • Calendar or Day Planner: Provides a big-picture view of schedules and helps with time-management. Parents should let children manage their schedules, but can offer guidance. Demonstrate how you manage your own calendar.
  • A stack of 3×5 index cards: A cheap, portable means to create lists, notes and study guides. Index cards are perfect for test review.
  • Designated Study Zone: Designate a distraction-free place for work. Work in a quiet, low-traffic area and set boundaries for desk use: i.e. storing books on the desk is okay, while electronic games are not.

Make it a Habit

New habits take time to become routine; parents should monitor initial progress and then slowly, give a child room to manage on their own.

Parents can help by:

  • Going over the child's list of homework assignments
  • Asking your child to create a to-do list of priorities, then vetting the list
  • Building in time to proof and review work
  • For long-term projects, demonstrate how to break the work down into a series of steps. Have your child plot out a timeline for completion.
  • Encourage your student to check off each item on the to-do list


Effective Time-Management

Parents can help students manage busy schedules by teaching students about time-blocking, which is the process of designating specific blocks of time each day for tackling particular activities or tasks. Students should examine their daily schedule and homework to-do list and create timelines for all tasks.

Other time-blocking tips include:

  • Keep it real: Set realistic time-blocks; allow time for snacks, transitions and breaks.
  • Interruption-free zone: Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time each day. Close the bedroom door; turn off the phone and keep younger siblings away. Students should tackle tasks that require deep concentration during this time-block.

Finally, remember that organization must be learned and practiced to become a habit. Parents can and should guide their students but the goal is to ultimately allow your students to take the lead. Who knows? You may learn a thing or two yourself. Here's to an organized school year! 



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About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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