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Practical Tips for Teaching Students Organizational Skills

Mar 18, 2019 by

Let’s face it. Kids are messy. From the time they enter this world, until they become a tornado during the terrible 2’s, and eventually grow into a teenager with an unmade bed and clothes all over the bedroom floor. While it’s the parent’s main priority to teach self-help skills, this inevitably overflows into the classroom as well. Teaching independence, even at a young age, starts with organizational skills. Cleaning up after oneself, packing and unpacking backpacks, and taking deligent notes are all part of being an organized student. Here’s how you can help.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Boosting self-confidence is one of the best things a teacher can do for a student. And it’s the fastest way to get results. When a child feels proud of themselves and their accomplishments, they’re more apt to continue the positive behavior that got them recognized. When a student exhibits improvement in their organizational skills, acknowledge it. Simple things like remembering to hand in their homework on time, cleaning up their toys, or maintaining a clean work space are all worthy of a compliment. Show students the benefits of staying organized. Bad things can happen when you don’t keep your belongings neat and organized. Lost homework assignments or personal belongings can have steep consequences. Gently remind students of this from time to time.

Start With Simple Concepts

When you give students too many tasks to complete at one time, it can overwhelm them. Learning multiple step directions is part of the development process. Set small goals and give brief and clear directions. Have children clean off their desk and push in their chair. When that’s complete, direct them to get their lunch and find a place on the carpet. One or two steps per direction is best. This helps them set attainable goals. Make the process more fun by offering small incentives or helping students take ownership of their belongings and classroom materials. Label items with the students name, let them bring custom backpacks or personalized tote bag to carry their assignments in, or a pencil case decorated with their favorite things. Students are more apt to take ownership and pride in their work when they feel emotionally connected to it.

Make Lists and Charts

Visual cues go a long way for students of all ages. Creating a chore or helper chart in the classroom works wonders for elementary students. Help older students create a wall calendar or fill the pages of a planner. Even using the calendar on their phone to track assignments is better than nothing! Younger students benefit from seeing what they need to do in large print. They can even create a checklist that details (step-by-step) what needs to be done. Once they complete one task, they can mark it off the chart, add a sticker, or cross it out. The simple feeling of crossing items off a “to do” list does wonders for productivity, even for adults! Phone reminders are a great way to keep older students on task. Over time, these behaviors become habit and students get into a routine of studying, completing homework, cleaning up, and performing daily responsibilities (both at school and at home).

A healthy mix of visual cues, plenty of encouragement, and helping students take pride in their accomplishments can all help develop organizational skills.

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