Teachers often encounter kids who are utterly lacking in organizational skills. While this may be developmental at times, these children often come by their lack of organizational skills naturally. Their parents may be overwhelmed, poorly organized, struggle with time management, and present a limited model of organization to their kids. These children may be late for school, forget their lunches, or have their homework done but be unable to find it in their backpacks. While a teacher’s job is to teach (and not to parent, the classroom is a great laboratory for teaching organizational skills, so I encourage you to take advantage of it.
Here are five strategies for improving organization for school and the classroom:
- Teach by doing. Discuss plans for the day or verbalize the steps to complete a series of tasks, such as preparing for lunch. Use calendars, sticky notes, and other visual reminders for yourself to model these organizational skills to your students. Consistently display routines for your students to observe.
- Help your students to break larger tasks into smaller ones. Students with organizational problems often have a hard time prioritizing what is important and struggle to find a spot to begin. Breaking down the tasks with your students provides them with a form of structure to follow consisting of smaller, achievable tasks. Help then to prioritize what is needed to complete a task.
- Develop a plan and a description of what constitutes a clean desk, cubby, or locker by taking photographs of what a clean one of these looks like. Schedule a weekly time for your students to clean these areas.
- Present information in a well-organized manner. Children who have problems with organization grasp new concepts better when they are well-structured. This is important in both home and school settings.
- Set aside a time each day to get organized. This could be brief, but make the goals of organizing explicit. Talk about how organization can help students to learn more, become more efficient, and feel less frustrated.
If you would like to read more about some classic strategies for improving organization for school skills or want to pass these along to parents, here are some links to the basics of organizational skills:
A list of general tips to help children improve their daily organizational skills at school and home.
This article, an excerpt Barbara Guyer’s book “ADHD: Achieving Success in School and Life,” provides 11 tips and strategies to improve organizational skills in teenagers.
This site provides information on how parents and teachers can help students on the autism spectrum to improve their organizational skills.
This article from LD Online indicates strategies to attack organizational issues at home, at school, and in daily routines, identifying and explaining specific strategies to help students improve their organizational and study skills.