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
For kids, all tasks can be broken down into a 1-2-3 process.
- Getting organized means a kid gets where he or she needs to be and gathers the supplies needed to complete the task.
- Staying focused means sticking with the task and learning to say “no” to distractions.
- Getting it done means finishing up, checking your work, and putting on the finishing touches, like remembering to put a homework paper in the right folder and putting the folder inside the backpack so it’s ready for the next day.
Once kids know these steps — and how to apply them — they can start tackling tasks more independently. That means homework, chores, and other tasks will get done with increasing consistency and efficiency. Of course, kids will still need parental help and guidance, but you probably won’t have to nag as much.
Not only is it practical to teach these skills, but knowing how to get stuff done will help your child feel more competent and effective. Kids feel self-confident and proud when they’re able to accomplish their tasks and responsibilities. They’re also sure to be pleased when they find they have some extra free time to do what they’d like to do.
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.
Original Article can be found at KidsHealth.org
Elaine Fernando is a Central NJ professional organizer, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and a member of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers).