Being organized is often a difficult task no matter the age. But teaching kids to stay organized can be easier than we think if we start talking about it early enough.
Author, Consultant & Professional Speaker, Susan Fitzell, shares her expert advice and says the best way to teach children to be organized is to model good organizational habits and teach children those habits from an early age.
“Neither of my children have personalities that prefer organization…Yet, both my children were organized in school, much to my relief. I believe that the reason they were organized in school was because I made very conscious choices of what I modeled for them and what I required from them,” explains Fitzell.
How to Start Teaching Organization in Kids
Fitzell says that from the time her children could help pick up their toys she was there to help them do so.
“I provided storage bins, hanging pockets, and specific places for their belongings. Then, I helped them pick up at the end of every day. I taught them that public places needed to be kept safe and free from clutter that people could trip on,” says Fitzell.
Fitzell says that once her children were in school, she decided her priority was for them to learn to be organized at school and not worry too much about staying organized at home.
“There’s only so much time in the evening and school always took priority. I only demanded they clean their room when it became a safety hazard and I took advantage of opportunities that motivated them to organize their room,” says Fitzell.
An example of those opportunities is when they wanted to go on a play date. Fitzell says she made sure to tell them a few days ahead of time that they could only go if their room was picked up. Her reason was always safety. She says she “never berated them for being sloppy.”
Being organized in their school work was non-optional in the Fitzell household.
“From an early age, I set them up with a binder, colored dividers, sticky notes, colored markers, a hole punch that fit in the binder and a zipper pouch that fit in the binder. I stressed the importance of their education and if there was one place where organization was important, it was in school.
Fitzell says that to her, the key to all this was to start young and not wait until there was a problem.
“I also helped them with this task when they were young. Much to my amazement and gratification, my incredibly disorganized son kept a detailed, labeled and organized binder and backpack through high-school and college,” says Fitzell.
Fitzell also reminds us that no two people (or children) are alike and the nature of some children could make it very difficult to be organized so she suggests keeping tasks simple.
“A colleague of mine told me once that she put three big bins on her son’s floor: one for clean clothes, one for dirty clothes and one for clothes he might wear again. It was much more successful than requiring him to use hangers in a closet or drawers in a dresser,” explains Fitzell.
No matter how you start to teach your children about organization, remember you’re not entirely alone. There are many tools to help make things easier on you and them. In this digital age, you can find apps that help with youth organization or you can stick to these great tips and go the more “old fashioned” way.