Beyond Games: Your Kid CAN Self-Organize

One size does not fit all when it comes to organization. It is often the parents’ role to help children find the organizational styles most helpful to them and be willing to implement them. A compulsive style in which things are lined up and everything is in its place can be very comfortable and a good fit for some kids. However for those who are less organized, there are still some simple strategies to help keep the basics where they expect them to be and enable them to function effectively in this manner. In this edition of the LearningWorks for Kids Beyond Games series we provide strategies for parents to assist children in organizing themselves.

Involve your child in the planning process. Many children with organizational weaknesses require direct assistance, not just encouragement or prompts. Work with a child to develop a plan for completing tasks that focuses on collecting necessary materials before beginning tasks. He might benefit from having the steps and materials used in a long-term project written down for him to refer to as he works on the project. Over time, he could be weaned off external guidance and see success in completing tasks independently. A journal or assignment book could be used to keep track of assignments.

Identify, try, and modify. Encouraging your child to organize his belongings in a way that reflects his particular style. Helping him design a basic method to fit his needs that can be utilized on a regular basis could maximize the chances that he maintains this organization. This could be as simple as having a set of four laundry baskets in which to sort clean clothing, dirty clothing, schoolwork, and everything else in his room. Allow him the flexibility to make modifications to it if he begins to realize that it doesn’t work effectively. Your support could empower him and help him recognize that regular reorganization is required for success.

Experiment to improve. Try different ways to make cleaning a room or organizing a backpack more efficient. Have a child listen to music, podcasts, or books-on-tape while engaging in tasks he might otherwise find to be boring.  Eliminate visual distractions in the background such as movies or television shows and encourage ideas for motivational strategies. Ask a child to evaluate and discuss the helpfulness of various approaches.

Develop age-appropriate organization and planning skills. One sign of maturity in children is the capacity to plan, think about, and gather materials for their activities. A child could be encouraged to organize what he needs for a day trip with the family or an overnight with his grandparents or cousins. At first it will be important to check what he has packed, ensuring that he has included necessities such as a toothbrush and change of clothes and activities to keep him occupied on a longer trip. But once he has displayed his capacity to plan ahead and organize himself, allow him to do so.

Teach time, effort, routine, and consistency. Encourage your child to take the time to put completed homework assignments where they belong in the classroom, and he should do the same thing with schoolwork that he has completed at home. Emphasize that homework is not done until it is turned in, in acceptable condition.

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Complementing these core strategies with the use of apps, websites, and other technologies often leads to the best solutions to improve a child’s ability for self-organization. Some of the best tech tools to help a child with improving self-organization include:


StorehouseStorehouse is an app that can help kids get organized by encouraging them to be creative while challenging them to think about their own thinking. The app allows users to visualize ideas and narrate their points of view by uploading pictures and video and adding text and then share them with other users.


Days – Photo and Gif Diary is similar to Storehouse in its predominantly visual approach to journaling. Kids will need to plan and organize thoughts and ideas in order to record their days’ events through images. Challenge your kids to prepare a public story, considering audience and therefore exercising organization skills by creating a cohesive and coherent journal entry.


Remember the MilkIf your child needs to work on visualizing tasks as multiple steps, Remember the Milk is a great app to help with that. By allowing detailed entries and multiple categories, Remember the Milk can help kids compartmentalize and see projects step-by-step. Kids will even by reminded by notifications to help them stay on target.


Featured image: Flickr user Magic Madzik

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