8 simple ways to help your child get more organized

GIIS communications team
May 24, 2021
Parenting Tips

Truth be told, all of us struggle to stay organized most of the time, but children have it worse. Whether it’s failing to do assignments on time, losing one side of every sock and shoes, or always forgetting something at home when going to school, children seem to have a zero sense of organization.

Unfortunately, this makes their lives, not to mention their parents’ lives, more challenging, than they need to be. Research shows that being organized is a critical factor in academic success. Besides helping you get better grades, the organization alleviates the stress that comes from always rushing and struggling to get things done past the deadline.

If you teach your child to be organized from a young age, they will always be on top of whatever challenges they face in their academics or professional life. There are many ways to teach your child organization skills, but these eight have stood the test of time.

1. Lead by example

‘Monkey see, monkey do’, is a saying best used to explain that children do what they see, not what you tell them. If you want to raise a well-organized child, start by being organized yourself. Assess your life and see if it’s organized enough. How do you manage time? Are you always late, or do you make it before time? Do you have a system you follow to do daily tasks, or are you always flustered and yelling at people?

In essence, all tasks can be broken down into three parts- gathering supplies, staying focused, and getting it done. This means you have to get everything you need first, say no to distractions, and focus on the job until it’s done.

Once you have aligned your life and mastered the 3-step process, it will be easier to teach your child by example.

2. Build a habitat

A habitat is an environment where everything has its place, and you can tell where everything is without looking for it. The Global Indian International School in Tokyo has created such a habitat in their Montessori class. It is a calm, inviting place where everything has its place. Lesson tasks are placed on trays that sit on clean, uncluttered shelves, and students return them there once they are done. Montessori classrooms also rotate toys and materials every week to reduce that cluttered feel and ensure the children are not bored with their toys. At home, you can use organizers and containers to give everything a home.

3. Create a routine

Humans are creatures of habit if you train them. Having a routine repeated every day from a young age will help it become a part of who they are. You can start by writing down the everyday activities and hanging the chart on the fridge door or corridor where everyone will see it. For example, a good after school routine can include changing clothes, having a snack, doing assignments, washing dishes, and watching TV.

You can also have a school preparation routine where they put their books and stationery inside the bag, lay out their clothes and shoes for the following day, brush their shoes and brush their teeth before going to bed. After a few weeks of doing the same things every day, the routine will stick to their minds.

4. Use visual cues

One of the areas in which children struggle to stay organized is schoolwork. Help them to color-code their subjects in the folder, so it’s easy to locate. If they are doing a science assignment, they will put it in its rightful compartment, where it will be easier to find tomorrow morning for handing in.

Another excellent visual cue idea is to buy stickers that demonstrate something you are supposed to do. For example, you can have a sticker of someone putting their dirty clothes in a hamper in every bedroom next to the basket. This will remind the children to put away their dirty clothes instead of leaving them on the bed or the floor.

5. Use a calendar

The most effective organization tip is to write stuff down, no matter how old you are. Keep a master calendar with everyone’s schedules and events. This way, you can all know each other’s activities and avoid scheduling conflicts. Encourage every child to keep a personal calendar and a to-do list, and show them how to use it by demonstrating yours. In their calendar, they can write down their daily tasks, especially assignments given at school, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. It’s also important to add their daily and weekly activities so they can plan ahead if they need to carry something to school.

6. Teach them your style

As a parent, you pretty much have a roster of things to do in a day. Another effective way to teach children organization is to involve them in your to-do list. Start by discussing how you manage your time and duties throughout the day and the methods you use. Follow up by encouraging them to take part in the tasks with you so they can see how you transition from one job to the next. If, for example, you have to do laundry, vacuum the house, make lunch, go to the salon, and read some emails, write down a to-do list even if you don’t usually do it. Let the child tag along as you accomplish each task and cross it off from the list. Make sure to teach them about time management and focusing on the primary task instead of getting distracted.

7. Do a daily audit

Expecting children to perfect the art of organization is unrealistic, at least when you are starting. For a few months, you have to do a verbal audit of what needs to be done. Check their calendar and diary to ensure they have done all assignments and follow up with questions such as have you put all the books inside the bag? Have you brushed your teeth? Have you laid out your clothes and brushed your shoes? Do the same in the morning until they learn to do the checks in their mind without you.

8. Use the reward system

Having an organized bedroom, organized backpack, or finishing work on time is not very important to most children. They will prefer to watch TV or play with their friends instead. The only way to make an organization meaningful is to reward them for being organized. For example, if they can finish their assignments in one hour after school, they can watch their favorite TV show or go out with their friends if they can clean their rooms first.

The reward system not only teaches them to prioritize responsibilities but also time management. Doing a task in the least amount of time possible allows them more time to do what they want.

Educators at the international school in Tokyo would be the first to state that teaching children to be organized is by no means easy. It will push your limits to the point of quitting every day. However, they will undoubtedly learn to be more organized and start enjoying the organization’s results. Once they step into that clean room to sleep, knowing they kept it that way, it will be a proud moment for them. During those few times in a day when you want to throw in the towel, imagine how awesome it will be when you no longer have to collect dirty clothes all over the house or rush forgotten assignments to school.


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GIIS communications team

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