How do I instill organisation skills in my child?

It’s fair to say that instilling life skills into a young child can be challenging. From manners at dinner to not running around the sofa shop on a Sunday afternoon when you just want to get in and get out. But we know some life lessons are worth the challenge especially where education is concerned. The hope is that by introducing routine and basic daily tasks, that your child will develop a sense of normality with basic cognitive & organisational skills.

There are some ways that are very simple, just to begin. Thinking about what we do within our work and home lives, the things that make us motivated to do the tasks we don’t want to do but know will benefit us in the short and long term. Thinking about this, here are some tips for instilling organisation into your child's daily routine.

Start with basic rewards systems; rewards are always nice for us and our children. Showing a child that completing a task almost instantaneously leads to somethings nice is the simplest way to show immediate reward. A chart can help with this, make it colourful and fun. The colour and shapes will help with sensory stimulation & give a clear visual representation of cause and effect (check out Pinterest for some fun ideas that you don’t have to think up). A task completed is a task rewarded with an immediate acknowledgement e.g. a tick or sticker. For example, “3 things to do each night before bed” could be cleaning teeth, bushing hair & putting 5 toys away. Once a week is completed a reward of 3 options tailored to your child can be offered. Having your child choose the reward is a great tool to begin their decision making. This is a simple tool but is helping build their independence, organisation skills, cognitive development & learn consequence. They begin to understand if tasks aren’t completed, they don’t receive the rewards.

Get them involved in basic house hold day to day tasks; Cooking and cleaning is a great way to begin. Even from the age of 12-18 months basic tidying up introduces cause and effect – playing with toys then helping to clear them away. As a child gets a little older 2-3 years old, things such as baking can be fun for both child and parent. Stirring, mixing and adding ingredients to a basic recipe introduces them to use gross motor skills (hopefully they don’t pour in the whole bag of flour). At this point you are able to continue reading with the child, giving them independence to read the recipe (if they are at that stage) and as they get older, lead the cooking to gain confidence in all of these skills. They learn that following instructions, listening and helping with the task leads to cupcakes and this end result shows the reward of completing a task through organisation and the enjoyment through it (and also cupcakes).

As children get to school and begin structured education a basic homework timetable is a great idea. Using the skills in the previous examples will help to build up to this more formal and structured organisational format. Again, colour coordinating subjects and tasks can be a simple way for your child to easily distinguish between subjects. Being rewarded for completing tasks in allocated slots will give them structure to begin to understand time management. Organising time is such an important life skill and instilling this in a young child will benefit them to no end in later life; This could be anything from 5, 10 or 30 minute slots. With this type of organised learning it is important to completely tailor it to your child’s age, skill set & ability. This allows them the opportunity to complete tasks well; the completion of tasks is almost as important for their growth as the actual outcome of the task.

It is so important to remember that every single child develops at a different rate, walking, talking, reading & listening are huge skills to develop and they all come at a different stage in each child's life. All you can do as a parent is encourage these skills and beginning with organisation will be a strong frame work to build upon.

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