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07 Dec, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

Tips to help your kids get organized

Dentist appointments, field trips, sports practices, art classes, and teacher conferences. On top of regular work and school life, families today seem busier than ever. Trying to plan the week revolves around shared online calendars, post-it notes stuck to the front door and, occasionally, a missed appointment (yep, that one was my fault).

While some people are natural organizers, many children struggle with organization and time management. From forgotten lunch boxes, late homework, rushing to sports practices and failing to finish tasks, part of a successful school year and home life is developing good habits at a young age.

Being aware of schedules, having the correct tools for learning, and practicing organization skills can help children prepare for, and succeed in, school and life. In order for good habits to become second nature to children and continue throughout their teens and into adulthood, it’s good to introduce organization skills when they’re young.

Here are a few ways parents can help.

Calendars and checklists

My 9-year-old tends to melt down when surprised by outings or activities, or when he doesn’t know what’s coming up during the week. Lists, a printed schedule, calendars, and personal reminders are helpful in keeping him and most children focused and in control. Help your child get into the habit of using checklists and schedules to mark down important dates, items needed at school, and special events.

Kids may use reminders more often when they’re part of the decision-making process and help in their creation. You can make a checklist together by using a free program like canva.com to customize a checklist template or use a dry-erase board or chalkboard in a central location. Younger kids may do better with visual queues and images of their chores — making the bed, setting out clothes, doing homework, etc., while older kids may want to use computer reminders, phone alarms, Google calendar, or smart speaker reminders.

Made using canva.com

Lists will help ensure that required tasks are completed on time and that kids don’t miss out on anything important. They’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing things on their own. Just remember to make each task manageable within a small amount of time to avoid children feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

Shared lists and calendars help cut down on stress and the need for verbal reminders that often fall of deaf ears.

Workspace

To be productive, kids need a clutter-free and quiet space at home to get their work done. For some families, that might be the dining room table after dinner, a desk in their room, or even a lap desk in a favourite chair. Have necessities nearby in a homework caddy, pencil case, or container so that they’re not constantly searching for rulers, highlighters, and paper.

After homework is done and packed back into their schoolbag, have your child tidy up their workspace. Not only will this help build a habit of organizing, but they’ll be ready for the next day.

Establish routines

Create a regular routine for wake-up and bedtime, playtime, TV time, homework time, and chores. This will help your child fall into a stable pattern and ensure they get much-needed sleep. Designate study and homework time, ideally after they have had a chance to relax after coming home from school. If they don’t have homework on a particular day, the time set aside can be used for something like puzzles, word games, or a board game.

Before bed, it’s time to make sure everything is ready for the next day. Pack the schoolbag, pick out clothes and accessories, and discuss the next day’s schedule. Being ready for the upcoming day helps children feel more secure and ensures that they don’t forget anything.

Organize your entryway

Give each child a basket or bin that holds their outdoor gear like hats, mittens, and neck warmers to cut down on the morning rush. Clothing labels will help families with multiple kids sort their items, and labelled shelves and hooks at waist level make grabbing jackets and snow pants that much quicker.

Cleanup times

Conduct weekly cleanups and encourage your child to sort through their schoolbag for old papers and assignments. Cleaning and organizing their bedroom weekly will help ensure that everything is always kept in its place.

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