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The Organized Child

How to help kids make order out of chaos

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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Getting organized is hard—even for the most motivated youngster. Try these ideas to help your kid pare down, clean up, and keep track of his possessions.
Boost Your Kid’s Get-Organized Quotient

Check out these super-helpful hints to boost your kid’s get-organized quotient. Find one (or several) ideas that best suit your little one’s personality.

1. For the Fashionista: Make a Scarecrow

Teach your little stylist how to “dress” a make-believe scarecrow. Let her lay her clothes out on the floor each night, using everything she wants to wear to school the next day. Before bed, neatly place the clothes she selected on a chair in her bedroom or hang them in her closet. Older kids can organize a week’s wardrobe on the weekend, and hang the outfits in a bedroom closet, along with belts, shoes, jewelry, and other essentials. The truly motivated may want to label each item according to the day of the week or simply hang the outfits in Monday-through-Friday order.

2. For Rapid Rabbits: Designate a Landing Zone

For fast departures and organized arrivals, create two landing zones in your house for your kid’s essentials. Clearly identify one landing zone near the front (or back) door where kids can grab their coats and bags as they dart out in the morning. Make a second landing zone on a kitchen counter where kids can stash their lunch bags and folders when school is over.

3. For the Slowpoke: Let Clocks Keep Him Moving

If your child can tell time, a digital or analog clock in the bathroom, bedroom, and near the door may help your small fry keep moving. For little folks, ring a bell, squeeze a horn, or play a well-loved song on a tablet or kazoo to signal “Come on down. Breakfast’s ready!”

4. For the "Dog Ate My Homework" Guy: Planners Are Awesome

Planners are terrific for kids who need constant reminders. Homework? Check. Books in backpack? Got it. Gym clothes ready? I’m on it. Planners are also great tools for kids who have a lot to remember—like soccer on Monday and violin on Thursday. Let your child choose a planner he likes so he will want to use it. Sometimes all he may need is colored folders—one color for each subject—to keep track of assignments.

5. For Last-Minute Lucys: An Oversized Checklist

Keep all systems go: encourage kids to do their homework, reload their backpacks, and get to sleep early—in that order. Visual prompts, like an oversized checklist hanging on the bedroom door, give kids an easy way to monitor their progress.

6. For the Pack Rat: A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

When kids know where things go—and they stash them there—they can find what they need in a heartbeat. Invest in desktop trays for pens and pencils, drawer dividers for socks and hair bows, and inexpensive closet organizers for shoes and clothing. Explain that sweaters go in one compartment, T-shirts in another. Every few months, have a donation party. Recycle or repurpose what’s worth keeping. The less kids have, the easier it is to stay organized.

7. For the Scatter Cat: Create Lost-and-Found Boxes

As you go through the house, gather everything that's out of place and deposit all items in deep wicker baskets or white file boxes. Provide one for each child, and remind kids to check their baskets. If the containers overflow, schedule put-away time every few days, and play upbeat music to get them moving.

8. For Busy Bees: A Weekly Whiteboard

At your weekly family meeting, write down all appointments, sporting events, lessons, birthdays, and meetings. Indicate drop-off and pickup times. Jot down dinner ideas. Work out conflicts, and then transfer your notes to a whiteboard. Hang it in a central location where everyone can see it. Easy peasy.

9. For Mixed-Up Minnies: Color-Code Everything

Assign a color to each child: a red coat, red notebook, and red backpack for one child, yellow or blue for another. This makes grabbing what’s theirs super simple. Threading each kid’s color through the toes of their socks and towels will make it easier for kids to sort clean laundry.

See Also: How to Minimize Morning Madness