It might have been squished at the bottom of Tyler’s bag for weeks or perhaps Lucy just left it in her locker and decided to bring it home today.
Whether it’s trying to find a rash shirt that hasn’t been sighted since last year’s swimming carnival or the hat that has made its way to lost property six times just this term, parents are left wondering: “Why does this keep happening and how can I make it stop?”.
Many occupational therapists suggest that organisational skills are an essential life skill that can empower your child to feel more confident, in control of their future and increase their self-esteem. But as a parent, how can this be achieved?
Get into a routine
One approach is to make a visual checklist for children to follow daily routines like packing their lunch and/or their backpack, or after school routines such as homework routines and the bedtime routine. Visuals will help trigger the child’s memory and they will be able to easily visualize how to undertake tasks in a specific sequence.
Using gamification, parents can turn the entire process into a rewards based system to encourage children to be involved and make it fun.
A points system rewarding children is understood to be more effective when providing positive reinforcement rather than ‘catching’ out a mistake and using discipline. This could be a fun activity within which the whole family can get involved.
Reduce the distractions
Raising children in the ‘Digital Age’ poses new challenges for parents that didn’t exist ten years ago. Technology is a major contributor to distractions in school aged children. The distraction of choice for primary-school-aged children tends to be the iPad while secondary students are probably more interested in connecting with their friends via social media using a smartphone or laptop.
Set certain times within the afternoon and evening when it’s ‘switch off’ time. All technology is turned off. Also establish a no-tech zone at the dining table or the study area to allow your children to remain focused on the task at hand. If there isn’t any homework, it’s a great time start reading a new book or teaching your children how to remain focused.
Share your organisational genius
Parents are master organisers. In any household there are usually multiple activities taking place at once like school drop-off, work, school pick-up, extra-curricular activities, sports, your children’s social life or your social life. So how do you manage the chaos?
Pass on your wisdom to your children and involve them in your process.
Involve your children in organisational tasks you undertake like planning the family calendar, or cooking something following a recipe. Even sorting out the laundry is an organisational task that will help children to practice organisational skills independently.