Parents: Keys for teaching organizational skills to children

  • Article by: PRISCILLA DUNSTAN , McClatchy News Service
  • Updated: March 29, 2013 - 2:34 PM

Helping your child learn the skill of organization is no easy task, but using your child’s dominant sense may help.

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Being organized is a skill that can make or break us as we move through life.

Teaching children how to be organized from an early age will enhance their ability to get things done and feel confident and capable, as well as making life a little easier for them.

While organization is a basic life skill, it’s easier for your child to maintain any system if it’s in line with the dominant of his or her five senses. Rather than make tidying up and organizing a chore, have fun learning how your child thinks and set up an organization system that works for you and your child.

Tactile children do best with category- and utility-based organization stations. For a tactile child, unless the things they need are right in front of them when they need them, they will tend to rush past, forgetting. The toothbrush and toothpaste will need to be at the sink rather than in the cabinet, their school bag will need to be at the door, their clothes organized and ready to put on clean from their bath or from when they wake. Use quick-cleaning storage such as tubs, boxes and hooks for clothing as well as school items. Shoes are easily placed in a large tub at the door; schoolbooks can be organized into colored boxes based on subject, and sports gear is easy to find when kept hanging on hooks in netted bags.

Visual children will do best when things have their place outside of view. This may seem counterintuitive, but visually oriented children take great joy in organizing their items neatly and knowing exactly where everything is. They will, however, like visual reminders (make sure a list of items is neatly written and placed discreetly). When organizing their wardrobes or drawers, pick a theme based on color, size or utility, and allow them to fit their things to that classification or organization pattern. Most important, give them plenty of display space on wall shelves to show off their many collections.

Auditory children can appear to be on the untidy side, but there will be a pattern to their madness. Work with your auditory child rather than stepping in and tidying up yourself. Give them the freedom to organize and keep tidy in their own way. They will prefer open cupboards and shelves for clothes and toys, and this is actually a direct link to deadening the sound in their room. If your child is habitually lining the floor with stuffed toys and clothes, invest in some basic sound-deadening items such as rugs, padded headboards, curtains and chairs to soak up the sound. You will be surprised at the difference this step will make to your child’s natural organization skills.

Taste-and-smell children will tend to be collectors. They will want to keep every ticket from every theme park, every gift, toy or item of clothing that was given to them and every card, memento and book to remind them of the tiniest things. This is when a journal and a camera will come in handy, rather than keeping the sweater that is two sizes too small, or the very ugly doll (take a picture and have your child write a detailed caption). This will preserve the memory and satisfy your taste-and-smell child’s need for personal connection with the added benefit of using up a lot less space. Expect them to have a lot of photos that they will want to display, so allocate a dresser or shelf or hang frames on the walls to keep things tidy.

Use your child’s dominant sense to make the cleaning-up process easier and better suited to your child. Even young children can learn how to put away their toys, pack their bags and help with keeping their space organized.

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