Two of the major success skills that children need to learn are organizational and time management skills.
While organization and time management are actually two different issues, they frequently go hand in hand. Organize means “to put in order”; time management, “make effective use of one’s time.” When time is not used well, disorganization tends to occur. Better known as chaos, by some; ‘the story of my life,’ by others.
“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date; no time to say hello-goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!!” So bemoans the White Rabbit as Alice watches him scurrying down the rabbit hole. Ah, if this was just a scene from a movie or pages from a book. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
However, I daresay that this same lament is muttered from households all over the globe. And if I had to take my best guess, this sentiment is most frequently voiced in the morning, trying to get out the door to work and school.
Take getting out the door in the morning, for example. Often I find that too many details are left until the morning, resulting in a scrambling to take care of things under a time pressure. Some of the morning rituals, such as showers, making lunches or searching for lunch money, packing up backpacks, signing permission slips, even putting cereal and bowls on the table, and picking out clothes are chores that could be relegated to nighttime rituals. (Depending upon how hectic your nights are!)
I strongly recommend that backpacks are packed, double-checked and ready to go, with all the necessary requirements for the following day (short of sticking lunch in) and either at the door, or even already in the car before your child goes to bed. This eliminates some of the last minute hassles.
Backpacks—there’s a real fine example of the need to ‘put things in order.’ I see many parents start their children off the first day of school with a system that should take care of all their organizational needs; only to find by the end of the first week that the folders haven’t been used, the assignment pads haven’t been written in and the crayons are now where the pencils go and the pencils are nowhere to be found. The key here is that you found this out early. There are two things to remember when dealing with backpacks and organization. Firstly, there are many ways to organize and your way may not work best for your child. Secondly, like most other skills, organization needs to be taught.
I highly recommend that you review the state of your youngster’s backpack on either a daily (for the young ones) or at least weekly basis to monitor whether they have any idea where anything is, if you have seen and signed everything you were supposed to and whether or not things like homework and permission forms are actually being turned in. If any of the above issues are problematic, then it is a sign that you need to review the system and perhaps modify it so it is more user-friendly. I encourage praise and reinforce for signs of organizational efforts. You may also need to use the same strategies for your child’s desk!
Try to find some time to take a look at what’s working and not working regarding morning routines and backpack organization. Then, try to work out some of the kinks. Evaluating and making changes on a regular basis can help ease the sense of disorder and increase a sense of order and control of potentially chaotic situations. By doing so, you can begin to, “put things in order” a bit more and experience the bedlam a bit less.
Dr. Vicki Panaccione is a passionate and dedicated child psychologist whose 25 year career has focused on listening to 100’s of kids and helping 1000’s of parents raise happy, successful kids–and enjoy the ride. She is an internationally recognized psychologist, parenting authority, speaker, parent coach, media consultant, radio personality, prize-winning and best-selling author.
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