Teaching Children to be Organized

By Naomi Cook

“Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime.”  This Chinese proverb explains the importance of education and in turn the value of responsibility and accountability for one’s self.

Kids learn by example when it comes to actions.  Walking, talking, laughing and more…Have you thought about how the state of your home can impact a child’s organizational skills as well?  Since television shows on hoarding have been appearing, the world has learned how impactful the disease really is, especially on children.

On a lighter note, children are visual creatures, and that is something good to understand when it comes to helping them get (and stay) organized.  Read below for ideas that can help at any stage of life.

Preschool aged children – These little guys will need your help.  Appeal to their visual senses, while also turning clean up into a game, and they should easily grasp organizing fundamentals such as:

  • Using Simple Storage: Those fabric cube bins with handles seem to come in every color these days and are appearing in more and more stores.  They are also soft and easy for little hands to carry around.  Better yet, they can slip into most bookcases easily.
  • Using Pictures: For toys small enough to fit into the bins, attach pictures of the toys, showing which items go in which bin.  For bigger items, attach pictures to the wall over its “parking spot”.
  • Using Size Arrangement: For books, dolls, and game boxes.
  • Using Color Arrangement: For stuffed animals, construction paper, and art supplies.

Elementary school aged children – These guys are learning independence through a full day at school, but will still need your help.  Let them continue to build on the fundamental organizing skills and let them input fun new ideas.  At this stage, arrange the bars and shelves in their closet for them to be able to pick out their own clothes.  Work with them to group like items together by size, like short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants.  After that, if you’re really adventurous, work on arranging each of those groupings into color order.

You can also introduce them to one of my favorite tools…the Label Maker!  Let them have fun labeling where everything goes.  Choose tapes in their favorite color and a fun font!  Warning…labeling can be addictive!  Supervise them or you will be going to your local office supply store every day to buy more tape cartridges!

Middle school aged children/ High School Aged Children – These guys have reached independence yet their schedules are filling up at this point and organizing may not be a priority.  Build on the fundamental skills by introducing magnet boards, dry erase calendar boards, and assignment/activity planners.

At this stage in life, most parents will implement an allowance in exchange for doing chores around the house, including keeping their rooms organized.  Money talks, so any other form of bribery isn’t really necessary!

Ultimately, you want to give your kids an appreciation for their belongings, as well as your home.  By following the organizing fundamentals and building upon them gradually, you will set them off to become organized adults.  In turn, they will teach their children, and when those grandchildren come to your house notice if they are sprouting buds of understanding organization.  If not, tell your children that you want their years of allowance back!


23 Replies to “Teaching Children to be Organized”

  1. Having a four year old and seven year old life is chaos to say the least. Positive reinforcement with the occasional disciplinary action has worked well for our family. That being said it is a constant effort to ensure that they are operating at the desired level.

  2. Start the day by making their bed, have a healthy breakfast, and talk with one another about the day of plans. If children are in school or complete chores around the house always offer positive feedback and encouragement.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, teaching children at a young age is vital. It will help them out in the long run.

  4. I am in the middle of the toy storage phase right now. Both children have already memorized which toy goes in which box, more like which toy comes out of each box actually.

  5. the importance of organization is a great one. I don’t have children so I really don’t relate to this discussion, however I feel that when my surroundings are well kept it is easier to focus on other tasks at hand.

  6. I agree. As children grow, their understanding of things grow as well. What you put in is what they put out. Children are like sponges so you should instill in them proper organization from young so they can have these tools as their foundation.

  7. My organization skills could definitely use some work. I try to teach my children to be organized, especially with schoolwork and their rooms.

  8. My son has autism and items have to be in a specific place. He will try to help clean sometimes, but it is still a work in progress.

  9. My kids are too old to be taught to organize their stuff. Maybe I’ll focus on the youngest – he’s only 6yrs.

  10. I have 3 kids ages 11, 13, and 13. Teaching them organization and how to properly use time management has been a chore for years and truly I’m sure it’s going to turn out to be a lifetime chore.

  11. I help my six years old daughter organize her wardrobe weekly to get her clothes ready for the week. She appreciates the idea that I help her and her clothes are very easy to find. I also give allowance to my kids to keep their rooms cleaned on the weekly check time as well as for emptying trash cans from the bathrooms and kitchen and they really like it because they feel like their work is appreciated and they can get something of their choice every week.

  12. My children are grown and not in the home with me anymore, but I buy them planners and calendars every year that have enough room for them to document things they may have going on in their day.

  13. I am very organized. I have two jobs. I don’t have a choice. I believe things should be in the right place. When you go to look for whatever you need it can be found.

  14. My kids are grown and all into college. I taught them to make their bed first thing in the morning, clean up after themselves, do their own laundry and do their assignments on time.

  15. I wont to believe that I am organized and everything that surrounds me is organized or it makes it hard for me to function.

  16. I am able to organize but then I will go to look for something and undue all the work I did for the organization.

  17. Organization is vital, but a consistent routine is more important. As busy adults, I don’t think we realize how much our children watch us. We must lead by example, and hope they will make even better choices than us.

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