Organizational skills have always come easily to me, or so I thought. I never really thought about it, honestly. I’ve always been super organized, for as long as I can remember. But this past week, I had an epiphany. My son brought home a student planner provided by his school. Apparently, 3rd graders get planners so they can learn about writing daily to-do lists and keep their classwork organized. His teacher provided a bit of information about using planners and why it’s one of the great activities to teach organizational skills to your kids.
One of the daily tasks he has to do is to have his parent sign the planner once he’s completed all of the homework. He was pretty upset because he forgot to have one of us sign it one day, and he missed out on the class perk for finishing all his planner work. What really struck me was the fact that this simple daily task is having a big impact on him. I apologized to him and told him I was sorry we missed signing his book. Guess what he said? “Mom, it’s not your fault, it’s my responsibility to get it signed every day.”
My jaw dropped. My son has always been studious, but it’s not about being a good student, it was about taking accountability and responsibility. Those life skills are even more important than academic knowledge. This whole planner situation also got me thinking that I can help my kids learn the organizational skills I have.
Teaching Organizational Skills Starts with Parents
Thinking back to my childhood, I ikely I learned my organizational skills from my parents. They are both teachers and there are certain organizational things that have always stuck with me. Their mantra was “homework first, everything else is second.” This means I’ve always prioritized my work over everything else. Once that’s done, then I get to play. They were also always on time, if not early. I’m always on time and actually worry if I’m more than a few minutes late.
Now it’s my turn to try to instill organizational skills in my own kids. If you’re interested in doing the same, here are 7 smart activities to teach organizational skills to your kids.
5 Smart Activities to Teach Organizational Skills
1. Initiate Daily Routines
Teaching kids about routines early is a great way to help them learn organizational skills. Kids also thrive with routines. Routines provide structure, consistency, and a sense of security. One easy way to get them to start practicing routines is to have them make their beds every morning. Another example I’m doing with my kids right now is that they check to make sure their water bottles are full and their snacks are in their lunch boxes. Right now, I remind them about these things, but over time, they will start to develop habits. Another simple example is taking off their shoes and putting them in their cubbies when they get home. All of these little routines will become so engrained it will help them not only to be organized but give them a sense of accomplishment and pride.
2. Show Them Sorting, Categorizing, and Labeling
A lot of the skills involved in organizational skills start really early. Kids learn about sorting and matching as early as preschool or sooner. Keeping things organized, neat and in order will help them to stay organized. When it comes to their school work, you can help them keep everything organized by sorting their assignments by subject and putting their work into different folders that are labeled for each of the classes. At home, your child can also help with sorting with simple tasks such as doing laundry, or organizing their toys. For example, in my kids’ room, they have bins for different toys. All of the plush toys go in one bin. All of the race cars go in another, etc.
3. Teach Them Checklists
A student planner is a great option for helping kids learn about checklists, but you also could use something much more simple. For example, you could use post-it notes with little to-do lists on them. Let’s say you want your kids to do 3-5 things every day. You could attach a post-it to their bedroom door or bathroom mirror to be sure they do those things every day. I personally do mental check-lists with my kids. Every morning before school, they have to do several things. A lot of them have now become habits with time. 1) get dressed 2) eat breakfast 3) brush teeth 4) fill up their school water bottles 5) grab their snack and put it in their backpack. These steps happen every morning, so after a few days, I hardly have to remind them anymore.
If your student has other academic needs, you can use checklists to remind them about their upcoming work or assignments, anything else they have to do each day or week. Having visible checklists also helps you to participate with your child too. You can help them keep on track and praise them when they cross off one of the items from their lists.
4. Utilize Student Planners
Student planners have been so great for my son. I think planners are definitely one of the best activities to teach organizational skills to your kids. There is research that says writing with pen and paper helps to boost memory more than writing on laptops. Planners also have calendars embedded in them, so it helps students to plan ahead of homework, projects, assignments, vacation, etc.
5. Use Calendars
Calendars are a great option because they help your kids to start planning for the future. My kids love to cross out each day in our monthly calendar. We have a large white board, like this, that I write the dates in for each month. We put all of the major events for the month on the calendar. The kids love to know when things are happening and they take pride in crossing out each day at the end of the day. It’s a great way to build future-planning skills.
I hope these activities to teach organizational skills are helpful to you and your kids. If you have other suggestions, definitely leave me a comment below. If you’re looking for other educational posts, click here. Parenting stories? Click here.