By Heather Clark
Why do children need to learn organizational skills?
Children should be able to play all day, have fun, and not worry about organization. Right? Well…to a point. Children need to learn organizational skills, not just to make your life as a parent easier, but this is a life-long skill that will be carried with them forever.
Organizing isn’t just a skill that children might use when they’re older, I guarantee they will use it!
Think about this: we as parents/adults organize every single day. You may not realize it, but even the act of making dinner, or putting out the garbage, recycling and compost each week, that’s organizing. You are taking things and moving them to where you associate they should go. Example: clean dishes out of the dishwasher — glasses in one area, plates another, and cutlery in the drawer. That is organizing.
Let’s fast forward (because life with children doesn’t already go by too fast as it is) to these children being adults and on their own. As a parent of these, now-grown children would you rather know that they are keeping their personal space relatively neat and tidy? Or do you want to wonder how safe their living space is because there is garbage, old food, dust, dirt and grime everywhere? Thus, making it an unsanitary environment for themselves and any guests that come over.
Benefits of teaching children how to organize at a young age
There are many benefits to teaching children (even at a very young age) how to organize. The following are ones that I personally believe in as a parent, an adult and a professional organizer;
– There is less mess for you to clean up as a parent
– Children take responsibility for their belongings
– Organizing teaches children ownership of their toys and respect for their belongings
– They actually play with their toys (if you can’t find it, you can’t play with it)
– Children are less stressed because they are able to find what they want to play with at that moment which means they are happier children
– When they organize their way, children feel like what they want matters (example; letting kids choose what color bins they want for their toys, or how they organize their own Lego or blocks)
– They don’t ask you, the parent, a million times “Where’s my…?”
– There is more relaxed family time
– Organizing at a very young age gets them ready for school years for keeping their desks neat and tidy, homework completed on time, organizing their thoughts for tests, etc.
– Children’s confidence builds when they know they can accomplish even small tasks like putting their toys in appropriate bins, clothes away, helping the family with chores, etc.
– Their self worth increases
– Children feel like they an important part of the family
– Organization is a much needed life skill for when they grow up and live on their own or have their own family.
How do you teach children how to organize?
There are several way to teach children how to organize. Not every way will work with all children, so be patient when first starting out. Let’s talk about the biggest hurdle I usually experience with my clients who have children: toys!
For very young children, just starting out, I recommend photos of what is to go into the bin/drawer/etc. Very young kids usually can’t read yet, but they can recognize photos of the object and be able to place the object in the bin after being shown a few times.
For older children who are getting ready to go to school or have started already, try pictures and words on their bins. This way they start to recognize how something is spelt which also prepares them for reading and writing in school.
You can color code bins for certain items, for example, blue bin is for blocks, green for play food, red for play animals, etc. The choice is up to you and your children, together, to decide how their belongings can be organized. If you have more than one child, you can give each child their own colored bin/basket which they place all of their own toys into there. Even adding their face and name so they can easily recognize which is theirs.
And sometimes, just having one very large bin where all toys go, but you can hide away somewhere, is the best option.
Checklists teach kids how to follow an organized system
For my youngest two (now 4 and 7), we have checklists to help with a daily routine. Why? It helps reminds them of certain things they need to do in the mornings (make their beds, brush their teeth, get dressed, etc.) as well as before they go to bed (clean up any mess they made, read their books, get pajamas on, brush their teeth, who did I help today? etc.). We have been using these checklists for a while now because it’s something that allows them to be responsible. All I ask is “have you guys completed your checklists?” and they either say “Yes!” or it reminds them to double check and do whatever still needs to be completed.
This has given them a sense of independence as they are held responsible to make sure they complete their checklists. I’m not nagging them with each separate task that needs to be done. My 7 year old can read well, so he also helps his 4 year old sister with her list, which again is a life lesson for them, and teaches patience, understanding and helping others.
Whatever way you decide to organize children’s toys, make sure it’s practical and efficient for their age group. And remember, not all children are the same. You may have one child that needs separate bins with separate photos, but your other child needs just one area to place all of their toys. This is why it’s importance to involve your children in this process so they can tell you what they think would help.
Do you currently organize with your children? Lets us know in the comment below, we’d love to hear your stories.
Heather Elizabeth understands the demands of a busy household and how important organization is to the entire family’s well being. She own Custom My Closet, a local cleaning and organization company, runs Home Office Detox and manages her own blended family of 2 adults, 4 kids and 2 fur babies.Visit her at www.homeofficedetox.com