It is never too early (or late) to teach children organising skills
Children really are like little sponges from an early age and we need to start teaching them to pick up after themselves and be organised or they will never learn. It really is up to us as parents to begin facilitating this and it is never too early or late to start!
If you teach them from a young age, it will not only free up your time, but allow them to gain important life skills and it will assist them with self confidence by feeling capable of being able to do things themselves.
Here are 6 tips to assist you in teaching your children organising skills:
1. Developing and following routines – this is one thing that helps children right from an early age begin to learn the foundations of basic organisational and time management skills. In the beginning it does require a bit of work from us as parents and in particular ensuring everything has a place to live and letting children know where things go.
For younger children it can be useful to begin verbalising or making charts with the steps of a particular routine such as morning or evenings. The clearer you make it for your children and develop regular routines the easier it usually is for everyone.
2. Understanding what it means to be organised - children like to understand why it is important to be organised, how it helps to make life easier and why it can save time. Be honest with them and naturally give them explanations that are age appropriate so they can understand. Explain that getting organised isn’t always fun or quick but that it helps in the long run.
For younger children you can keep it simple by teaching them things like stacking, matching, wiping, sweeping which are all developmental skills and often they won’t even realize or know that they are learning organising or cleaning up skills.
3. Leading by example - One of the very first steps as a parent, in teaching your children organising skills, is to ensure you are leading by example. We have all heard the term ‘monkey see monkey do’ and it really is true.
It is really important that you create an environment that reflects organisation. For instance you could have a family calendar in a central location that everyone, children included, put their information on. It is also good to ensure that everything has a specific place to live so it is easier for you and your children to find. It also encourages children to put things back and keeps the place more organised and with less clutter.
Remember if you are expecting them to clean up their toys you also need to make sure you don't leave your own clutter lying around either.
4. Don’t just assume they understand what you mean – often we expect our children to know what we are trying to get them to do. In most cases though they need to be shown first, and possibly several times before they are able to begin doing something themselves. Usually I suggest you show the child and then be there providing support as they do it themselves a few times and then eventually they will get the hang of it and you no longer necessarily need to be involved in the process.
5. Give and teach them strategies – you can teach and use the simple 1-2-3 method to break down most tasks:
1. Getting organised or ready – this is teaching your children where they need to be and that they have everything with them they need to complete a task.
2. Staying focused/doing the task – this means teaching them they need to stay focused in order to complete the task at hand and learning to say ‘no’ to distractions along the way – this becomes an even more important skill as children get older with completing homework and technology.
3. Getting it done/finishing the task - finally this involves teaching a child to complete a task and then checking it has all been finished or done.
Once children understand this basic method they can then start tackling more tasks independently.
Try these for simple tasks where you can use this method - brushing ones teeth, packing up a room, emptying the dishwasher or for older children completing their homework.
6. Please don’t just do it for them – this doesn’t help anyone and if anything creates more work for us as parents.
Sometimes we need to reinforce something with our children to ensure a task gets done and I encourage you to do this even though it can be tempting and easier to just do ourselves. If we continue to pick up after our children then they never actually learn.
If you are still not sure on what you can do for what age group – a simple way to look at it is:
- Age 2-4 – keep it simple and very easy without too many steps
- Age 5-8 – get creative, give them a challenge and start teaching responsibility
- Age 9+ - up the responsibility, give them choices to make and let them establish their own routines
If you get children involved and start by making some of these things fun from an early age and they won't even know they are decluttering and organising. Remember these new skills won’t develop over night and might take time but it really will be worth it in the long run!
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings”- Ann Landers
Amanda Lecaude is an organising expert who loves being able to help people – her clients – get organised. She see’s the difference it makes in their everyday lives, particularly families, just to have a way to create some TIME, SPACE and BALANCE! She is also very passionate about equipping school students with organising skills for life to maximise greater results primarily in secondary school and limit the overwhelm and frustration for both them and their parents.
Get in touch 0409 967 166