Between work, school, home and social responsibilities, it’s easy for families to become overwhelmed and fall behind. Kids can feel stressed and frustrated about meeting expectations too. Some families seem to have it covered as they swing by preschool after work, prepare dinner and make it to soccer practice with ease. With preparation and consistency, parents can help their children establish organizational skills that will guide them through childhood and into adult life.
Hang a large family calendar on a wall in one of the main rooms of your home. Dry erase boards work well for this task. Use the calendar to write down each family member’s schedule. For easy reference, assign each family member a dry erase marker in a different colored ink to color code the calendar. For toddlers and preschoolers who can’t yet read, you can either read the calendar to them each day or use simple picture symbols they can understand easily. Stickers or magnets can also be used instead in place of text. Include appointments, extracurricular activities, chores and anything else you want to keep track of.
Create checklists to help your child with reminders, completing tasks, chores and anything else she might need guidance with. Encourage her to keep a note pad handy for this purpose. Even young children can utilize this technique using picture lists. If your child isn’t able to write her own lists, consider writing or printing them for her using the computer. Have her check off the items listed as she completes each task. Children need motivation as much as organization. Seeing the items disappear as she works through them will give your child a sense of a achievement.
Chores are a necessary part of being responsible and independent. Doing chores will help your child develop positive work habits that he will carry into his adult life. Start early by giving him simple chores appropriate for his age. Chores that require sorting laundry, organizing dishes in the cupboards and drawers and creating shopping lists will give him the opportunity to practice his organizational skills. Give him storage boxes, totes, shelving and other organizational tools to help keep his belongings in place. Being organized does not come easy to everyone. Be prepared to help your child along the way and offer rewards for a job well done.
Schedule your family’s daily plans and responsibilities. Include them on your wall calendar if it works for you. Children respond well to routine. They like to know what is expected of them and when things are going to happen. Providing a schedule for your child to follow will help her succeed and follow through each day. Have your child pack her bag for daycare, play dates and outings the night before. Let her choose between a couple of outfits and ask her to lay them out for the next morning. Giving her a choice will encourage her to make good decisions while avoiding confrontation that could slow down your evening progress. Young children can be involved in these assignments, even if they aren’t able to complete them independently.