Teaching Organization Skills to Elementary Students

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Being organized in school is as important as good study habits. This lesson provides teachers with ideas and tips for teaching organization skills to elementary school students.

Organization is Elementary

Organization, like any other valuable skill, takes time to hone and develop. Because of this, it's vital to teach this skill at an early age. When students are organized, they feel both in control of their academic lives and capable of tackling a variety of academic challenges. If good organizational skills are learned early, they can stay with a student through college and beyond.

But how do you get a young child to stay organized? Even more importantly, how do you get that same young child to want to stay organized? For motivated learners, the answer to these questions is clear: organized students typically perform better in school than disorganized students. This observation is based on years of classroom experience. There are several reasons why organized students generally do better in class.

  • Organized students have a clear idea of homework due dates and test dates.
    • This allows them to complete assignments and review for exams in a timely manner.
  • Organized students can locate homework and other information quickly and easily.
    • No more lost homework or handouts shoved haphazardly into desks or lockers.
  • Organized students can more easily visualize goals and recognize when progress has been achieved.
    • A sense of accomplishment can keep students motivated to continue learning.

Organizational Skills

One big advantage of teaching organizational skills in elementary school is that students at this level generally haven't developed or cemented study habits yet. Basically, young learners can be taught the organizational techniques that will help them achieve the benefits listed above without having to unlearn long-held negative habits. There are three primary ways to teach organizational skills to elementary students.

  • Taking and Organizing Classroom Notes - Ideally, students shouldn't have to be told to take notes. When they do take notes, however, it's important to teach them a few steps to ensure the notes stay organized and easy to find.
    • First of all, all notes should include the date, time, subject, and teacher.
    • Second, after notes are finished, they should be filed chronologically.
    • You can also encourage very motivated students to type their notes into a word processing program. This will help them to locate information faster and is also a great way to review.
  • Marking Up Textbooks - When students know the content of their textbooks, they can develop a deeper understanding of the material.
    • Encourage students to highlight important names, dates, events, information, etc. in a variety of highlighter colors. For example, in a history class, a student could highlight all dates in blue and all names in yellow. This type of color-coding system is an efficient and effective way to personalize the organization of a text.

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