How do you tell if your child may need to improve Planning and Organization skills? From exhibiting difficulties in setting priorities and goals, to simply completing homework at the last minute — or worse, not at all — children with poor Planning and Organization skill tend to jump into activities without proper preparation, and can be overly absorbed in the present moment.
If your child commonly has an extremely messy room, keeps a disorganized backpack or school locker, and is often unable to find specific materials such clothing, sporting equipment, or school supplies when they are needed, it may be time to address these issues. Consider taking some steps towards helping your child improve Planning and Organization skills by following the tips and strategies listed below.
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Tips to Improve Organizing and Planning Skills:
1.) Start simple. Children with organizational problems often have a hard time prioritizing what is important and figuring out what tools and materials they need to get started. Demonstrate how planning requires breaking a task down into smaller parts. Divide tasks into manageable and sequential components. Offer your child step-by-step approaches to complete tasks, rather than thinking of them as a whole. This could help him to budget the time and energy required for specific tasks, and help him understand that many projects require persistence and a long-term view.
2.) Schedule it out. Create a master calendar of events to plan ahead. Model and use calendars to keep track of family events, and to prepare for all of the important events and deadlines that your child must attend to. Organization is a routine and must be practiced regularly, so consider downloading some calendar and scheduling apps to help your child keep up the good habits.
3.) Brainstorm. Encourage brainstorming as a tool in the planning process. Sometimes the best way to come up with a plan is to explore alternatives. Teaching and practicing brainstorming strategies can be very useful for a child who struggles with the Planning and preparation.
4.) Check it Off. Learn to use simple checklists for common activities. Create checklists that organize materials for activities and events. Help your child to plan for activities such as sporting or athletic events by creating checklists for the materials needed. Think about downloading some reminder and to-do list apps to give your child a digital aid to the process.
5.) Make organizing fun. Your child could benefit from practicing Organization through fun activities outside of school. This could include organizing items from an area of interest such as songs on an iPod, Pokemon or baseball cards, action figures, stuffed animals, or dolls. Encourage your child follow instructions such as those found in a LEGO model sets, or ask for their help with a piece of furniture with “some assembly required.” These types of models can help your child to use mental-visualization skills to construct his own “hard copy” of a given model. Encourage the use of similar steps when your child has a multi-step project to do for school.