Being organized at home can be difficult for small children to grasp, especially for those children with learning difficulties. To be fair, being organized can be a challenge for grown-ups as well. Teaching children how to moderate their own space and time is a skill that all kids need to practice on their journey to adulthood.
However, many parents don’t realize that being over-involved in your child’s schedule and routine can be just as harmful as not providing enough guidance. Kids will very quickly begin to rely on you all the time and not learn the valuable skills of organization and time management. So how can you walk that fine line as a parent between “helicopter parenting” and being supportive? Keep reading to learn our five simple ways to train your children to be organized.
Children, especially young children, respond very well to routines. Establishing a set of household chores for the week early on builds this into the pattern of their life and they will begin to see these things as “normal” instead of chores. Pick a certain day of the week for tasks like doing laundry, cleaning, or gardening and get your kids in on the act! For example, if your kid knows that clothes get washed or ironed on Wednesday, they can then think about their week and plan their outfits around this.
Once they’re old enough, you can then give them the reigns and allow them to set their own routine. This helps them gain confidence and promote their own planning skills. You can let them use your routine as a guide or let them do a complete 180° and plan it however they like. By the time they get to college or leave the nest, they’ll know how to plan their day and week so that all the necessary elements get done.
Time management is one of those life skills that’s really important to master but hard to teach as a parent. There’s actually quite a lot of parts that go into time management including prioritizing, planning and time estimation. It may sound counterintuitive, but it can be more difficult to get something done when you have loads of free time rather than when you have very little. We’ve all experienced this. On days when you have a “to-do” list a mile long, you can get everything done. On days you have one thing to accomplish, you may not get that one thing done. Children also need to learn how to divide their day into workable chunks.
Let your kids create their own schedule for chores, studying and activities and follow it for a week. After the week is over, sit down together and discuss what worked and didn’t work so well. Be sure to address where they over or underestimated the time needed to complete a chore or activity. This will help them learn how to properly estimate time. Adjust their schedule and then do that updated schedule again for a week. Keep doing this tweaking and check-in process until you both find a routine that works. If time management is something you personally struggle with as well, use this time as a way to reflect on your own abilities and let your children provide feedback for you as well!
Get A Family Calendar
A wall calendar is something every family household should have. This turns deadlines into something very visual so it may help children that are visual learners especially. You can also reinforce time skills by picking a date to count down to. Pick one short-term thing (maybe a week or so away) and one long-term thing (Christmas or a birthday) that they can mark the days off of the calendar too.
Once they’re a bit older, you can have a family electronic calendar that allows them to add events and appointments while they are out. You can also enter weekly chores into an e-calendar to make sure everyone remembers what is going on.
Don’t Wake Them Up
This is a big one for those older kids that are especially resistant to being on time. If they have school at 9:00 am and it’s 8:55 am…don’t wake them up! When you’re an adult, no one is going to be there to make sure you honor your commitments, so get them to learn early the consequences of not respecting time. There are some alarm clocks out there that can move so you can’t continually hit the “snooze” button, so have them invest in one so they can’t blame their clocks or phone.
Tutor Only When Necessary
Obviously, if your child is really struggling to understand a particular subject or topic, please invest in a tutor to give them extra help understanding. However, some parents have their kids tutored every day in order for them to get the highest grades possible. This is a recipe for disaster if you’re trying to raise a child who can manage their own time and be organized. It also leaves them with no clear sense of what they can or cannot handle on their own. If you are using a tutor, make sure they are teaching them skills on how to master the next challenge they face so they gain confidence in their own abilities.
Parents are always looking for ways to give their children extra advantages to help them succeed in life. From making sure you live in a great neighborhood for kids to extracurricular activities, it’s important to give your child the organizational skills necessary to have a productive family and professional life.