Life Lessons: Teaching Kids Organization 101
This school year, teach your children one of life's most valuable lessons: how to be organized. While algebra and Latin declensions may be best left to the pros, no one is better equipped to teach Organization 101 than a parent. After all, the basics of organization begin at home. So study up and teach your children well.
Why Organization Matters
Being organized increases productivity and decreases stress: in short organization improves student achievement and reduces the bad stuff. Being organized also increases free time for sports, hobbies and family and friends. Other benefits include:
A (relatively) neat desk, book bag and room
A workable system for tracking assignments and managing a weekly schedule
The ability to tackle big projects that require planning over time
Decreased stress; feeling in control, rather than overwhelmed
The ability to make healthy lifestyle choices such as time for exercise and a decent bedtime
No one is born organized; coach your students on the basics of organization just as you would any new skill. Also, be sure to equip your student with the right set of tools:
Three-Ring Binder: The linchpin of organization; ensure it can hold all papers for a particular grading period.
Folders: Three-holed pocket folders corral paperwork. Encourage your child to think about what kind of paper comes home from school, label each folder accordingly.
Calendar or Day Planner: Provides a big-picture view of schedules and helps with time-management. Parents should let children manage their schedules, but can offer guidance. Demonstrate how you manage your own calendar.
A stack of 3×5 index cards: A cheap, portable means to create lists, notes and study guides. Index cards are perfect for test review.
Designated Study Zone: Designate a distraction-free place for work. Work in a quiet, low-traffic area and set boundaries for desk use: i.e. storing books on the desk is okay, while electronic games are not.
Make it a Habit
New habits take time to become routine; parents should monitor initial progress and then slowly, give a child room to manage on their own.
Parents can help by:
Going over the child's list of homework assignments
Asking your child to create a to-do list of priorities, then vetting the list
Building in time to proof and review work
For long-term projects, demonstrate how to break the work down into a series of steps. Have your child plot out a timeline for completion.
Encourage your student to check off each item on the to-do list
Parents can help students manage busy schedules by teaching students about time-blocking, which is the process of designating specific blocks of time each day for tackling particular activities or tasks. Students should examine their daily schedule and homework to-do list and create timelines for all tasks.
Other time-blocking tips include:
Keep it real: Set realistic time-blocks; allow time for snacks, transitions and breaks.
Interruption-free zone: Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time each day. Close the bedroom door; turn off the phone and keep younger siblings away. Students should tackle tasks that require deep concentration during this time-block.
Finally, remember that organization must be learned and practiced to become a habit. Parents can and should guide their students but the goal is to ultimately allow your students to take the lead. Who knows? You may learn a thing or two yourself. Here's to an organized school year!
Organizing for Wellness
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 10:21 PM
When it comes to your health, some things are beyond your control: genes, governmental health policies, cravings for chocolate. Okay, the siren song of chocolate is actually something you do need to manage, but other much easier steps can guard your health and well-being.
Manage Medical Records
Stay on top of your important medical records with one of our favorite organizational tools: the 3-ring binder. Having your files handy allows you to easily share both your complete medical history and daily medications with various doctors. Set your binder up to do more than just corral test results; use dividers to sort paperwork for insurance reimbursement, calendars for future appointments, and notes on recommended health products and medicines, etc. For more ideas on organizing a medical binder, we like the advice in Stop Lying to Your Doctor by Organizing Your Medical Records.
Schedule Time for Fitness
Fitness is a crucial component of health. An active body is a healthy body and daily exercise also helps decrease stress and sharpens mental faculties. But too often exercise falls by the wayside in our busy, hectic lives. Organize your schedule to include fitness in your life, by practicing effective-time management, and by saying no to commitments that overload your schedule. With careful scheduling, you can find the extra 30 to 60 minutes a day to devote to fitness. Also, consider partnering with a friend or family member, when you work out with a buddy, you are more likely to stick to a fitness routine. For more advice on finding free time in your schedule, read our past posts, Work-Free Weekends and Organizing for the Weekend.
We all understand the link between a healthy diet and our well-being, but good food choices are often derailed by lack of planning. When the cupboard is bare, or when you've waited too long to eat, we tend to grab the first thing we see, even if it's a poor choice. To stave off trips to the vending machine while at work, read our past post Healthy Office Eating Made Easy. At home, stock your kitchen with healthy choices with the advice in Organizing Your Kitchen for Wellness. Families with older kids might want to enlist your teens in the family meal-planning routine; having an extra set of hands helps make the work lighter and lays the foundation for a lifetime of healthy choices.
Finally, remember that health is wealth: take pains to plan out the steps to guard this most valuable asset.