Keeping kids organized and on the right track can be a chore, especially if you're not around all the time to supervise, cajole and encourage them. There are some tricks you can master that'll help make the job easier, though. And remember, organization and time management skills will be valuable for the rest of their lives. In short, with these handy tips you'll be giving your child a great head-start.
Start Early Teaching Time Management
Even preschoolers are old enough to learn about how time works, how we measure it and how it can help make sense of the world. Children who manage time efficiently are more likely to measure minutes and use them to their advantage. Start by introducing your preschooler to the tools of time, like a large child's calendar, clock and stopwatch.
Begin by explaining concepts like days and hours and relate them to something specific, like bedtime, mealtime and playtime. If your child is ready for kindergarten, enlist his help scheduling activities that he will naturally look forward to, and place them on a calendar where he can count down to each significant day. Some good candidates are birthdays, holidays and family vacations.
With a better understanding of time, it'll be easier for you to share concepts like planning and procrastination with your child. Remember, these are difficult ideas even for adults sometimes, so be gentle but persistent. If you set goals, like requesting that your child put his toys away before bedtime, always provide positive reinforcement for a job well done. Offering time as a reward can work, too, like delaying bedtime or extending playtime.
One key to making time concepts fun instead of an ordeal is to employ your child's natural curiosity as part of the learning process. Want to explain about seconds? Challenge him to hold his breath and count off the seconds on a stopwatch. Want to explore the notion of scheduling and why it's an important part of making things work effectively? Take him to the airport and show him the planes; then introduce him to the arrivals and departures screens.
A big part of organization is good preparation. When you create designated storage, play and study areas for your child, you're building a group of interrelated elements that will define a working system to keep her organized. These tips will help:
- Ask your child for suggestions about how to organize his space and belongings. Make it fun. Participating in the process will help fix the idea of staying organized in her mind and make her more enthusiastic.
- Use notes, stickers, plaques, flags and posters to label areas for specific objects and tasks.
- Consolidate storage by type if you can, like craft supplies in one area and games in another to make it easy to remember what goes where or intuit where a new item belongs.
- For small items, employ colorful plastic bins or boxes for convenient storage and organization, but keep it simple.
- Use drawer and shelf organizers.
- Provide as much space as possible to minimize having to rearrange and restack things too often.
Once you have the space prepared and understand the types of tasks you want to focus on, like keeping toys and clothes picked up and getting homework done on time, sit down with your child and come up with a workable schedule.
Break activities into a series of manageable steps, and assign a general timeframe to each step. The older a child is, the more precise the schedule can be. This is a good opportunity to talk about rules, too, like finishing homework before starting any recreational activities. Post the schedule in a prominent place where you can both refer to it.
Track your child's progress every day to make sure he isn't falling behind. There are bound to be lapses, but being persistent will show him that you're serious. Although getting and keeping your child organized can take time and tenacity, he'll be learning responsibility and independence. He'll also learn that time can be an effective tool he can use to achieve his goals.
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