This fall, send your kids back to school armed not only with new
notebooks but with well honed organizational skills. Fall is a season for fresh
starts and while reading, writing and arithmetic may be the main curriculum, the
back-to-school season provides an opportunity to teach your student another
critical life skill: how to be organized.
Teach Your Children Well
While some kids are
more naturally organized than others, parents should bear in mind that being
organized is not an innate ability, rather it is a skill that needs to be
taught or enhanced. Children of all ages can learn the rudiments of
organization so whether you're starting with a kindergartner or doing a
refresher with an absent-minded teen, set up a simple system and modify as
Set up a
Designate an area just for study; keep homework supplies handy in a box or bin.
Younger children may do well to have their study space in a common area such as
a kitchen or family room so an adult can keep tabs on progress and assist when
needed. Older students may require more quiet; set up a study space in their
room but be sure to monitor computer usage with parental controls. Out of sight
should not mean unsupervised.
Crack the Color Code: Introduce the concept of color coding, buying
folders, notebooks and binders in different colors for different subjects. Help
older students keep track of computer files with similar sorting methods. Show
them how to store files by category or date so that documents are easily
retrievable. Encourage your students to design a sorting or filing system before school begins so they can hit the
Deposit Box: Children should have a designated crate or box near the
front door for offloading backpacks and key school items. Make this area the
spot for teens to store house keys and to recharge cell phones and PDAs. Keeping
key items in a central location will help make the morning exodus less chaotic.
Calendar: Buy your child a portable calendar or planner; teens may use a PDA. Teach
her how to write down assignments, test dates and other important happenings. Keep
the to-do list in sync with your color coding or sorting system; students
should be able to look at their planner and see an test date in orange and know
in an instant that orange means math, etc. Empower her to keep track of
classmates' e-mails and phone information here.
Study Time: Teach your child that
important tasks need to be scheduled into a calendar. Hoping your kids will
study is a lot like hoping you'll make it to the gym. Studying needs to be a
commitment just like any other must-do but all-to-easy-to-ignore task.
Introduce the concept of time-blocking and time management, then sit down and
help your child plot out their schedule into time blocks. Show your child how
your own weekly schedule is plotted out with a calendar.
Prepare for the Next Day: Avoid morning crunch time by
organizing backpacks and outfits the night before. Weather set to be rainy?
Take time to dig out umbrellas and boots and add extra time for commuting.
Demonstrate how to anticipate and prepare for obstacles like weather, traffic,
Lead by Example: Keep things neat and
organized in your own life; children learn by observing. Show them how you make
and use to-do lists. Demonstrate how you tackle chores such as bill paying
before you reward yourself with a book or TV show. Model efficiency and
productive work habits and you'll soon see those traits in your children.
The ability to
organize one's time and tasks is a crucial life skill. Long after fractions no
longer need to be converted to decimals and some of the more arcane facts from
history class have been lost to memory, your school age children will benefit
from their organizational know-how.
by Candie Harris
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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.