Organizing and keeping up with a schedule is difficult for children and adults. We seem to think we can accomplish all we need to do in just a few minutes after spending time on the phone, in front of the T.V., etc.... Children and adolescents tend to underestimate the time it will take to get chores and homework completed. By helping children and adolescents learn to become organized, we are teaching them functional skills they will use throughout their lives.

A few simple possessions can help the child become better organized.

  1. Instruct each child to keep a calendar/assignment book. Daily events and assignments should be recorded immediately. Instruct the child to check off completed items.
  2. Instruct each child to carry a billfold, The billfold should contain his address and telephone number as well as numbers of significant others who can be contacted in case of emergency. Several quarters to be used to make emergency phone calls should be kept in the billfold at all times.
  3. Place magnets for notes on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, etc. These can be used to hold brief messages and reminders of times and dates of activities, Telephone messages can be placed on the refrigerator and then no one forgets to tell Mom or Dad who called.
  4. Place the child's own key on a string and place a special hook in his room on which he can hang it.
  5. Compartmentalized or divided drawers are good for faster retrieving of articles needed for school in the morning.
  6. Instruct the child to organize schoolwork and completed work sheets by filing them in subject folders, Homework to be completed each day can be filed in a "Homework" folder. If there is no homework, this should also be recorded and the child needs to be made responsible for checking daily.
  7. Teach the child to prioritize activities, homework assignments, steps involved in big projects.
  8. Encourage the child to become independent. This includes teaching and allowing him to travel and shop for clothing alone as well as to be aware of his own goals.
  9. When the child brings home a notice from or to school, have him read it and summarize the contents to the parent or teacher. This way, he will be reminded of the contents. Allow the child to fill out the identification information on forms.
  10. If the child needs a new part for his bicycle, a new book bag, etc., help him to learn how to look up where he can purchase it in the Yellow Pages.
  11. Allow the child to plan meals or plan what to order in restaurants. Try collecting menus from local take-out restaurants.
  12. Keep local street maps handy and help the child use them to find the fastest route to where they want to go, Ask the child to write out the directions that tell someone how to get to his house.
  13. Provide opportunities for the child to read and follow instruction manuals, These can be found on the back of cookie mixes, board games, following a sewing pattern, assembling a model, washing instructions, etc. All can turn into a disaster if instructions are not followed correctly. Have the child read the instructions for each step as they go along with clarification from you of any words or processes they do not understand. Children's cookbooks are excellent sources of simple instructions.
  14. Increase the child's attention to and understanding of signs in the environment. A fun game is to encourage the child to collect amusing, confusing, or misspelled signs. Look for amusing names on restaurants and shops. Allow the child to make signs to put on his door, etc...
  15. Encourage list making so that nothing is forgotten, while providing experience in organizing and recording information, Try giving the child the grocery list and letting him purchase the item. Be specific about sizes and brand names. Instruct him to pay attention to the amount of money he has to spend.
  16. If a child earns money or receives an allowance, encourage him to open a savings account, The child will eventually learn the value of and the ability to handle his own finances.
  17. Encourage the child to record birthdays of friends and family members. At the beginning of each month, remind him to see if he needs to purchase gifts/cards and help him do so.