It's never too early to start teaching kids the value of organization and time management.
It's common sense that when we plan ahead and organize our homes and offices, things run much smoother. We know what to do when, we know where to find our things when we want them, and less stress means everyone feels more relaxed.
A morning spent in a rush looking for shoes, keys, coats, books, pencils, etc. make me feel stressed and cranky, and we feel it in our homeschool. You feel it in yours too.
Looking back, the good habits I acquired at home were incredibly helpful when I left to go to college, but my bad habits were difficult to overcome. I knew when I started to homeschool that I needed to teach my kids to prioritize their time and keep track of their stuff to give them the advantage of good habits and minimize the bad. But when to start?
Now would be a good time.
Whether your kids are six or sixteen, it's never too early or too late to learn how to organize your chores, activities, and possessions to make life smoother. These helpful hints can be the boost you and your student need to get on the road to a more organized homeschool life. Step by step, students can get their academic lives regulated and systemized in a way that helps them be more calm and collected when the pressure is on.
- Start with basic tools like wall and desk calendars, planners, to do lists, and computer calendars which can be synced with smartphone apps for organization-on-the-go. Encourage the habit of inputting appointments and due dates immediately, and checking their calendar and lists daily, marking off tasks as they are completed.
- Students need to organize their space so what they need at any particular time is readily available. Create a system of Incoming and Outgoing documents and tasks, and arrange essential items with visual cues like labels, color coding, and 'zoning'. These methods can help them have a peaceful place to be productive, instead of spending energy and time trying to locate important books and papers. They can review their system regularly to make sure it is meeting their current needs, as these can change with the demands of home and family, school, and jobs.
- Students must also learn to manage their time and priorities. Some aspects of their lives require daily attention and maintenance, while others need occasional checkups. Figuring out what needs to be done immediately and what can wait is the basis of prioritizing. Kids can save their 'best time of day' for the most labor or thought intensive tasks, then mundane chores can be done while listening to music or watching a favorite TV show.
- Create attainable goals; long term, short term, and daily objectives that keep them moving forward in a positive way. Each small goal that is met successfully builds enthusiasm and confidence, and serves as a reward for those good habits they are practicing.
- Communication is a skill not often associated with being organized, but a successful person is able to quickly and intelligently relate pertinent information to others. Communication is the foundation of any fruitful collaboration, and students who learn how to effectively exchange information and ideas will always be one step ahead. Let your kids talk to you about what they'd like to accomplish each day, each semester, and each year of their homeschool. Help them discern their gifts and make tangible plans for their future.
- Healthy habits of mind and body keep you functioning at your best, and prepare your brain to be sharp and ready to react. Without a plan for proper nutrition and exercise, we tend to fall on the easiest and quickest solutions, which are often not the best for us. Kids can make healthy snacks that are ready to eat when they are hungry, and they can also learn to enjoy regular physical activity by playing a sport or engaging in a physically demanding hobby, like hiking, biking, dance, or martial arts.
Our children need to learn the intrinsic motivation of organization; it rewards them with peace of mind and free time, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that one's own needs, and those of loved ones and friends, are being met.
It's true that some people enjoy working under pressure and on the fly, while others want every minute of every day planned out. None of the above suggestions require your child to become an automaton or channel the spirit of Martha Stewart. They are, however, the start of helpful habits that benefit us all of our lives. When a child finds what works for them, we can help them stick to that system, focus on being creative and constructive, defeat procrastination, and avoid the canine consumption of one's homework.