Organized vs. Disorganized, Part VIII

Note:  This is the final installment in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child:  Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran.  Thanks for your positive feedback on this series!

Describe your morning and evening routines with your child.  Do you have to repeatedly organizingcall the child’s name to get her up?  Is he wasting time looking for items in the morning?  Does she get everything set for the next day at night?  Does he have a hard time getting to sleep at night or tends to stay up too late?

Chaos occurs for the disorganized child when there are no strategies in place for the morning and nighttime routines.  Organizational strategies like the ones previously suggested can extend to all waking hours.  Set routines truly help establish a structured pattern to follow everyday.  As always, ask lots of questions (and really listen to the answers) to determine exactly what part of the morning or night routine (or both) needs help so you can work together to seek win-win solutions for all.  This will result in your child feeling more confident and responsible as well as less stressed, and you too!  Consider the following suggestions in both areas:

Morning Routine — Frustration need not start the moment eyes open to a new day; everyone deserves to start off the day stress free and ready to move forward.

  • Begin the wake up process 30 minutes earlier.
  • Use an effective alarm clock (one that is annoying or hard to turn off).
  • Establish morning routines with lists; picture charts work well for young ones.
  • Once the child leaves her room, she should not go back in there.
  • Have a list or picture chart in the kitchen area for reminders, chores, or other morning details before school.
  • If breakfast is an issue, consider having the child “eat on the run” or while getting dressed (like a protein shake, breakfast bar, bowl of oatmeal, etc.).

Nighttime Routine — This routine should start after homework and supper are completed.

  • Prepare the backpack with tomorrow’s necessary papers and books.  Put all the work going back to school into the proper folder or place (discussed earlier).
  • Prepare the backpack (the black hole) with all of tomorrow’s supplies (gym clothes or shoes, anyone?).  A written or visual list of special supplies for each day of the week posted in a general area may be quite helpful.
  • Choose outfits and clothing the night before (with my youngest daughter, we laid out two complete outfits–this way she still had a choice when she got up, but only between the two outfits).
  • Try bathing at night and then sponge-bathing in the morning if showering is a time issue.

While all these things are negotiable depending on your household routines, just remember to always develop strategies WITH your child because it’s all about listening and compromising in the end!

Final Thoughts on this series:  As with most ideas, children in particular are more willing to try something new if they are asked to consider doing it during a “trial” period (adults too, for that matter).  Often times, children will come up with their own best solutions when we work with them on it in an open, patient manner.  Start now to adopt the attitude “so, it doesn’t meet my idea of organization but it’s working which makes it fine by me!”  🙂  Keep your sense of humor and continue asking lots of questions.  Baby steps, mom and dad!  Teaching and supervising simple organizational skills doesn’t occur overnight.  Some children are simply shown and they’re running well.  Others may be waiting for the frontal lobe of the brain to kick into gear.  Finally, others may simply be on a 50-year plan.  🙂  Gratitude, self-worth, and contentment come from achieving a common goal together.  Just remember that you don’t sprint an entire marathon; you pace yourself (and your child) to make steady progress along the winding journey.  Here’s hoping you find these many strategies useful for school and life success…now let’s get organized!  🙂

Organized vs. Disorganized, Part V

Note:  This is the next installment in a series based on the book, Organizing The Disorganized Child:  Simple Strategies To Succeed In School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran.

Following the paper trail once you have your child’s supplies and studyorganizing space at home in new order is next on the list.  With the basics in place, all that is really left is the actual work…thus, the paper trail begins!

The paper trail starts with getting the correct assignments and materials or resources home first.  It continues with the child planning and doing the work and ends with the work being returned to school or filed for later.  As with missing socks in my washer and dryer at home, this begs the question:  “Where exactly DO all those papers go that never seem to make it safely from school to home and back again?”

If you’re like me, you’ve tried multiple methods to secure items for travel.  The authors talk about a basic game plan (or what I call the Baker’s 1/2 Dozen) as you follow the mysterious paper trail:

  1. Have your child write down the assignment using a planner, post-it note wallet (clever idea), or electronic device document; this reminds the child what to do and puts the responsibility on her–now she knows what to do.
  2. Have the child double-check the assignment by asking the teacher or a study-buddy peer to check what was written down.  Now he really knows what to do.
  3. The child should place all materials touched that day in the Take-Home section of the folder or binder.  Now the correct materials are ready to be used at home.
  4. Daily, papers from the Take-Home section are filed or put into the day’s work pile.  Now she knows where her papers are, especially if this is done under the watchful parent eye (at least at the beginning and then spot-checked periodically).
  5. Have your child plan out projects on a calendar, marking completion dates for each step of the process.  Doing this visually assists the child in chunking the work into a series of little projects and keeps it from being completely overwhelming!
  6. When work is completed, it goes immediately into the Take-To-School side of the folder with a parent checking this step (at least at first and periodically afterwards).
  7. Weekly, the backpack and binders (known previously as “the black holes”) are purged of papers and items no longer needed at school or home.  This helps keeps backpacks lighter and study notes or papers are filed for any future tests.

There…we just reduced 33 pages of the book concisely into a few sentences!  WHEW!  This is actually a technique the authors share in the next chapter for reducing information to the key concepts of reading, note-taking, and studying methods…but we’ll save this for Part VI next week.  🙂

Note:  We had another smooth day of state assessment testing in our building; thanks for everyone’s continued patience!

Organized vs. Disorganized, Part IV

Note:  This is next in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child…Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and organizingMarcella Moran.

So now that you know your child’s organizational style, it time to roll up the sleeves and get moving.  There are two parts to this next phase:  getting supplies and setting up a workspace for success.

Choosing the supplies to meet your child’s organizational style is critical now.  While you may have a shopping list and several aisles of options, control your urge to revert back to your own organizational style…I’ll warn you now…this requires great will power!  🙂  The authors provide a basic list of useful tools and items, but once again, pay attention to what works best for your child.

For example, the dreaded backpack can turn into the “black hole of nothingness.”  It’s important to go through the current backpack and noticed your child’s way of setting up items.  Limited outside pockets = less places to lose items!  Visual organizers prefer colorful backpacks where Spatial organizers want the backpack to feel good, especially when they move their arms while wearing it.  Chronological organizers prefer a backpack with inside compartments to store specific items in specific places.

Planners are another issue, however, we provide one here at Miller for all students, even though some view planners as instruments of torture.  🙂  Binders, folders, paper, pencils, pens, and other tools are also important to consider when looking at the child’s organizational style.

Setting up the study area or workspace is the second important step on this journey.  While the use of a desk or table area is the most obvious space to start, consider other factors.  For example, visual organizers will find anything but a desk or table too distracting while spatial organizers love the comfortable feel of their bed and large area to spread out their work.  Chronological organizers want their workspace to contain their favorite electronic devices–especially music (but no TV).  Younger children like to work in the kitchen area while older children will work on the floor or bed easier.

One final note:  a healthy snack fuels the brain.  Hungry learners tend to focus on their hunger and waste time rather than tackle the challenge of school work.

Once you have the supplies and workspace decided, the basics are in place!  What about the paper trail, getting the work done, and returning the work?  We will save this for our next installment.  In the meantime, just remember that you are working with your child on his or her level of organization (and not your own); take a deep breath…you’re doing GREAT!  🙂