Organization skills can do a lot for kids. When it comes to school, organization is essential for keeping track of homework, projects and study schedules. But that means organization itself can feel like something of a chore for many kids. That’s why it can be helpful to teach your kids organization skills by starting with hobbies and extra-curricular activities. Learning to organize something they love can help kids internalize good habits that they can later apply to school, work and life in general.
There are three organizational requirements that most kids’ activities share, whether they’re sports, arts or technology-oriented: scheduling, materials and practice. Here’s how you can teach organization through each one.
Parents are usually the ones making sure kids get where they need to go on time, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t share some of the responsibility. Depending on the age of the child, lots of kids can at least contribute to the schedule, whether it’s something as simple as marking the next lesson or practice on the family calendar with a Post-it® Super Sticky Note, or as complex as keeping track of their own schedules and letting parents know when they’ll need a ride to a lesson.
There’s almost no activity kids do that doesn’t require materials – sports equipment (sometimes lots!), art supplies, sheet music, costumes or uniforms, among others. Giving kids the responsibility for their own equipment at an early age is a great way to teach them that organization can have a big impact. For younger children, it might be as simple asking them what they need for practice and creating a checklist on a Post-it® List Note that they can mark off as they get their bag or backpack ready. For older kids, it could extend to having them do their own laundry, pack their own bags and get them out to the car at the right time.
Many extra-curriculars, especially the arts, require lots of solo practice, studying and memorization. A good way for kids to start to get a handle on keeping track of lots of information is to color-code assignments or passages by priority. That sounds complicated, but it’s really pretty simple – just have kids add Post-it® Flags in their favorite colors to the biggest priority items (a piece of music for the next lesson, a page of a sports playbook or the next page of a script he or she has to learn). Older kids can add other layers of color-coding to indicate second and third priorities, as well as breaking complicated items down into parts in order to better isolate areas to concentrate on.
Simple steps like these can help instill the habits of organization in kids before they ever start formally learning what it means to outline, file or keep calendars. And when it comes time to keep track of the really important stuff, chances are they’ll be better prepared to take charge and make sure everything gets done.