You’ve got so much going on.
You’re organizing and overseeing your kids’ homeschool education every year. You’re teaching them. You organize the kids’ activities calendar and drive them there.
You plan the weekly to-do list of household chores and knock out a bunch on your own. You organize meals for the week, go food shopping AND do the cooking.
No wonder you’re feeling exhausted, frustrated, and angry! It feels like you’re doing everything yourself. Or at least almost everything.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are a lot of things you could teach your kids to do for you. Rather, think of it as teaching them to do things for themselves and the family, if you need to look at it in a more selfless way.
You organize it, they do it.
Eventually, you teach them to organize themselves.
Imagine your kids having such strong organization skills that they’re practically self-sufficient. You sit back and watch them do their thing while you enjoy your mid-morning coffee.
Many years ago when I was a teaching intern, I had an experience assisting in a Montessori classroom that I’ll never forget. It was a room full of about twenty-five to thirty 4-year olds, led by an unassuming middle-aged teacher.
She spoke to the children for a few minutes, then gave them a signal to go, and bam! Off they went to their assigned work/ play station around the room. They’d pull out the sorting toys and other tactile learning tools located at each station and worked with them. The teacher walked around, visited the stations, and played with kids for a few minutes.
Then she gave a signal ONCE, and THEY ALL STARTED TO CLEAN THEIR STATIONS. All these kids immediately put the toys back in their respective bins around the room. A couple of minutes later, she signaled again, ONCE, and they all rotated to the next station and started over.
I’d never seen such organized, orderly behavior in a room full of so many young kids. It still stands out in my memory, over 30 years later.
How did she do that?!
She was organized, her room was organized, and she ran an organized program. That woman had some serious organizational skills.
Organization makes life easier. It sets up your kids to complete tasks with more ease and in less time. It lessens stress. In homeschooling, organizational skills allow your kids to take ownership of their learning. Your kids become more active, independent learners.
Let’s talk about key organizational skills and systems to teach your kids.
First, what’s an organizational system?
Organizational systems are the ways you’ve set up your homeschool and household to get things done efficiently. They’re repeated, step-by-step processes.
For example, how do you organize the clothes to do laundry? When it’s time to clean the yard, how does your family go about it?
What can the kids do to pitch in and help, instead of sitting there and playing while you’re doing it all?
At times, you’re feeling like you’re doing too much yourself. That’s a cue that you need to set up some organizational systems and teach your kids how to take part.
Don’t underestimate their value.
Organizational Skills and Systems for Your Younger Kids
Teach your younger children basic organization skills. For example, you can teach your kids to put away toys, organize their school supplies, and clean up their work area after homeschool is done for the day.
It takes time to teach them how to organize their space. But once they know what to do and how to do it, it’s easy. It becomes part of the routine. Little ones take pride in being good helpers! Don’t we all?
Here’s how to teach your kids organizational skills and systems:
1. Explain the process, step-by-step.
2. Model it as you explain it once again.
3. Have them do it under your guidance.
4. If you can find a mnemonic device to help remember the process, like a clean-up song or rhyme, use it while they do it.
Set up and teach your young kids several systems to keep things organized. Then, have them help out in your homeschool and household daily.
At some point, you may ask them for feedback. What would work better? What changes would they suggest? Can they help set up a new system to help with a task around the house? Asking for their input shows you value their ideas. This engages them and makes them more active learners.
As they get older, your kids will need to organize their school work themselves. Teach them to organize their notebooks, subject folders, and assignments in chronological order.
A daily checklist or to-do list is also an excellent organizational tool. At first, you create it for your kids. As they get older, let them practice making their own, which you then review. By late middle or high school, they make their own daily checklists or to-do lists.
Organizational Skills to Get Your Older Kids Ready for College
Time management, scheduling, and prioritizing are key organizational thinking skills your teens need to know when they leave home.
The majority of your teens’ organizing for work or school will done on applications that they access across several devices. For example, they’ll set up their electronic calendar on their laptop and be able to check and edit it from their smartphone.
It’s the way of the future!
But to manage their time in a way that maximizes success, your teens need to know and be able to do the following:
1) Organize document files on their computers, so they can be easily found. By document files, I mean all class/subject handouts, notes, and your kids’ own work assignments. Set up folders by subject and unit within each subject, and add folders to hold their work in each subject.
2) Organize their electronic calendar. By the time they leave home, your teens will benefit from knowing how to create their own electronic calendar. It should include family events, vacations, school work, and scheduled activities outside of school.
3) Look at the week ahead, work backwards, and set up a tickler system in their calendars. Every Sunday night, your kids should look at the week ahead and plan their time. For example, say they have a big deadline one day and an important sports game the night before the deadline. How will they budget their time to make sure they’re able to give both their best effort?
Work backwards. When kids have a big deadline coming up several weeks or months in the future, put the due date in their calendar. Then teach them to work backwards to schedule reminders when certain parts of the project should be completed.
Tickler system. If your teen needs to follow up on an application or an interview or some such thing in the future, teach them to set up a tickler system in their calendars. The tickler is a series of simple reminders to follow up at an appropriate time in the future.
Invest the time to teach your kids organizational skills and systems. It will make your life less stressful. More important, it’ll teach your children to be independent, self-managing young adults.