Your kid is now in primary school and yet he still seems to be so disorganised. You have trained him to pack his bag for school every day, but he invariably forgets books, or he just packs every book every day, just in case.
He doesn’t copy down the homework he needs to do when the teacher writes it on the board and loses water bottles and pencils regularly.
You wonder how long it will take before he “wakes up” and gets his act together.
At this age, he should be able to pack his school bag properly each morning, take down accurate instructions about homework assignments, pass on letters from school to home, have his clothes laid out the night before, and keep his room tidy.
But there is a difference between ability and performance. The problem isn’t that your child is incapable of becoming more organised, it’s that there are too many distractions and he hasn’t developed effective strategies to achieve his organisational potential.
So, he’s not that different from his peers, whose parents also tear their hair out in frustration at their disorganised kid.
Motivate your child with these 10 steps:
Support not criticism
Avoid constantly criticising him about his poor organisational skills. Arguments about tidying up rarely have a long-term effect and will not result in change.
Chastising him with comments such as “Why can’t you keep your clothes as neat as your sister does?” won’t cut any ice either. Your plea will fall on deaf ears and he’ll start to resent his sibling.
Give regular reminders
Instead of waiting until he forgets something, remind him when he wakes up that he should check the contents of his school bag. Ask him about his homework when he arrives home.
Think manageable chunks
Break down each organisational challenge into small, easily achievable steps. For instance, first, he should find his bag, then check the contents, and finally replace any books that are missing.
Use checklists and wall charts
These provide a step-by-step guide to his organisational tasks. Encourage him to look at the checklist each morning when he prepares for school.
He will be more organised when he follows the same routine during the day. That way he gets used to, say, checking if he has recess money before he leaves home, or ensuring that he notes the correct homework assignment.
Keep his workspace uncluttered
The more chaotic his surroundings, the less organised he’ll be. A tidy bedroom enables him to find his clothes more easily.
Encourage forward planning
Urge your young one to think ahead. For example, he should consider what he’ll need during the week – for example, a complete art bag with all the materials he needs on days when the subject is taught, or his recorder on music days. Forward planning broadens his organisational skills.
It’s not all bad news – there are bound to be good days when he does take down her homework details accurately and packs his bag properly. That’s when you should give him a big hug and let him know you are delighted with him.
Set a good example
Let him help you prepare your papers for work the next day, or plan the ingredients that need to be bought for tomorrow’s dinner. He will learn from you as you work together on this. Sharing your tasks sets a good example for him to copy.