Helping Your Child Stay Organized

A child sitting behind a desk out of focus with pencils and books all in a row lined up and organized.

Helping Your Child Stay Organized

We like to think we foster independence in our children. We let them make decisions and force them to live with the consequences. ”You forgot your water bottle, and now you’re thirsty? Well, I bet you’ll remember it next time!” What if that strategy isn’t enough? If the forgetting continues, and you begin to see your child's self confidence melting like an ice cube in the sun, what can you do? Here’s some great news! It’s never too late (or too early) to learn to be organized. However, to truly help your child stay organized, you need to get REAL. In this case, REAL stands for Routine, Environment, Aids, and Lists.


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Regardless of the goal, having a routine makes us more productive. Routines help to automate tasks and ultimately result in habits. When the sequence of tasks is predictable, we don’t have to expend the brain power thinking, “What’s next?”.

For example, an evening homework routine can be very helpful. When your child comes home from school, have them walk straight to their designated study space and organizes their tasks for the evening. Check a planner, get out the necessary books, and cue up any notes on his computer. Preparation is key when it comes to routines.

This works for younger and homeschooled children as well. Play can still be spontaneous and open while having a routine. For example, starting the morning with a healthy breakfast, chores, then educational play can be a flexible routine perfect for all children!

You can also have your children have a nightly routine as well. Set out clothes for the next day, and be ready to start with the sound of the alarm clock! Routines help with organization.


Your child's study environment should be organized. Part of their routine is to straighten their supplies when he’s done with homework. This organization reduces stress, and frees up their energy for other things.

Having a dedicated study space is critically important for student success. If the kitchen table is your child's homework spot, they might be distracted by noise or might misplace something among the mail or newspaper. When possible, quieter is better.

Play spaces can also be organized too! Having an organized play space makes a play area open to purposeful play.


Whether physical or metaphorical, there are many aids to help with organization. Try using one or more of these for academic tasks and feel your child's sense of order skyrocket!

  • folders
  • color coding
  • labels
  • planner
  • mnemonics
  • technology

Play aids aren't the so-called marketed educational toys. Objects and open-ended toys can act in aids in imaginative, purposeful play.


It’s time to embrace the LIST. Whether paper, phone, or computer, few things are as satisfying as crossing something off a list. What’s even better is the sense of accomplishment that follows. It can buoy one to dig into the remaining tasks.

Having your child make their own lists for academic work or chores helps with organization. Put it into practice by modeling lists yourself.

Whatever the age of your child, get them on board with making a plan to get REAL! The resulting calm will benefit your whole family.

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