Helping your child get organized

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What are some ways to have a productive conversation about organizing materials and tasks with my child?

1. First, determine what mood both of you are in. Do you have enough time and patience to model good practice? If not, help the child find what he/she is looking for and get the assignment completed.

If you have time to be proactive, set a goal for helping your child find the best way he/she can organize him/herself. A common mistake is to teach the child “your way of organizing.” This system may not work for your child. It also prevents your child from knowing why something works and under which conditions it won’t work.

2. Discuss the three pitfalls to organizing. You may ask for examples when he/she has experienced these, observed these happen, or even when these things have happened to you.

a. Procrastination—putting something off until later that we could do now. The consequences may be increased stress, poor quality, causing someone else to be late or inconvenienced, or not having the materials you need to complete the task in a short period of time.
b. Escaping—Daydreaming or doing something else that we feel like doing more. The consequences may be that we forget to do the task, we don’t leave enough time to do the task, and someone has more work to do to help you get the task done.
c. Deceiving yourself and others—This happens when we don’t take an honest look at the amount of time needed to complete a task. Consequences include running out of time, not having the right materials, making your emergency someone else’s emergency which is inconvenient and increases your stress and frustration.

3. Pull out examples of what types of things have to be organized. Papers, assignments, tests, notes, worksheets, etc.

4. Ask you child to list the different ways things can be organized.

a. Alphabetically
b. Numerically
c. Most recent to oldest
d. Topic
e. Subject
f. Due date
g. Type of assignment
h. Relationships or level of importance
i. Other