This article appeared in the April 2013 Colonial Crier.
Keeping your children organized is essential to ensure good grades and a peaceful household. Here are four ideas which will help improve your child’s organizational skills.
1. Establish Routines Make sure you have daily routines in your household. Children thrive with consistency. Have the alarm clock sound at the same time every morning. Try to eat meals at the same time daily. Have your children do their homework, clean their bedrooms, brush their teeth and take their baths at the same time every day. Established routines give children a sense of security and allow them to focus on school work and other activities.
2. Make Check Lists Help your children get organized with daily check lists.
In our household, a homework check list keeps our children on task and focused. Children have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to check off that they have studied for a test or written their book report.
As children get older, they will learn how to prioritize and will only need occasional guidance, but do not assume that since they are well organized with
their established routine that they can handle a new project without parental guidance. Review your children’s plans to study for an AP Exam or plans to apply to universities and offer suggestions when needed to keep your child focused and on task.
3. Stay Focused No one can do everything. Too often as parents we keep insane schedules for our children. We do not want to deny them any experience which may enrich their lives, yet we find our children and ourselves overwhelmed. I know parents who have every afternoon and weekend filled with extracurricular activities. Often they have three or four children, all with different activities. Choose one or two activities to focus on and find activities your children can do together or that you can do as a family.
Recently, several books have been written on this subject: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle; Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. These books all conclude it is better to focus on one or two activities and do them well instead of doing a little bit of everything.
Colleges and universities have also changed what they are looking for in student activities. They want students who are focused. The nationally-ranked figure skater or champion golfer will have priority over the student who plays soccer, basketball, football and track every year but never excelled in any sport.
4. Don’t Quit It is human nature to want to quit when things get tough. At some point, every child will want to quit when they get an “F” on a spelling test, lose a soccer game or spill the paint in art class. As parents, we have to teach our children that failure is part of the learning process. When things are not going well, ask them why and challenge them to analyze what is not working and discuss ways to fix the issues.
When your children are discouraged, unless personal safety is at risk, do not even allow them to quit their activities because things are not going as expected. When a child makes a commitment to an elective, sport or club, insist they finish their commitment. Completing activities, which did not go perfectly, provides a learning experience which will strengthen your children’s planning and decision making skills.