How to Teach Children Organizational Skills

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson we discuss how to teach beneficial organization skills to children, including the nascent use of technology and apps on the internet that can assist in the process.

Keeping Organized in a Disorganized World

Have you noticed that the world seems more hectic than ever, and that many people are trying to fit a lot of activities into one single day? In fact, one popular book about organization remained on a major bestseller list for many months! Organizational skills can be crucial to a child's success in life in much the same way that we adults benefit from staying organized.

However, wanting a child to stay organized and accomplishing that task are often two separate things. Fortunately, there are many strategies to help make this happen.

Calendars, Checklists, and Planners

Teaching a child to be organized involves not only physical elements, but also a particular mindset as well. A good place to start is to use calendars, checklists, and planners, both at home and at school. Allowing children, along with parents and teachers, to mark on all of these items can help them feel involved. It is best to let the child pick out a 'cool' looking planner. Otherwise, the child will probably not use the one that you pick.

Color-Coding and Labeling

Not only can color-coding and labeling items help a child stay organized, but also the child may think it is actually cool!


Also consider implementing short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. For example, a short-term goal may be to finish a math worksheet for the next day. A medium-term goal may be to prepare for the physical education fitness test in two weeks, and a long-term goal may be to practice spelling enough to raise the child's grade before the end of the school year.

Prepare for the Next Day the Previous Night

Do you remember setting out your favorite outfit the night before a school day? It made the next morning so much easier and fun, and prevented those stressful meltdowns that occur in the sleepy morning hours. The child can also make sure her homework is done, book bag is organized, and her folders are neat and straight. Pencils can be sharpened and proper pens, paper, and other supplies can be stocked. Even the morning breakfast can be planned. Also, make sure to decide what the child's transportation will be for the next day. Is she taking the bus, or is a parent driving?

Book bags, Desks, and Lockers

Remember that one kid back in school who had a locker overflowing with banana peels and a book bag and desk running over with looseleaf papers? Chances are this student was not getting great grades or participating in a lot of school organizations, although there are exceptions. Even Einstein himself was known for having a cluttered desk. However, most people do not have Einstein's capacity for genius, and benefit from being organized.

Homework and Schoolwork

Did you ever forget your math homework in your English notebook, and get an exasperated look from your teacher? It is important that all of the child's notebooks are tidy and in a day-to-day order for ease of use and efficiency.

Consider establishing a regular time for homework each night. For instance, three to six pm can be outdoor play time, and six to eight pm can be the regular study hours. Then eight to ten pm can be free time for watching television, reading, playing games, or using the phone.

Regular Sleep and Waking Times

A regular bedtime of 10:00 p.m. or so is a great idea from Sunday through Thursday. Perhaps on Friday and Saturday this can be extended. Have the child wake up at 6:00 am or so on school mornings. This allows for eight hours of sleep per night. It is extremely difficult to stay organized when drowsy.

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