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The Busy Kid’s Guide

to Organizing Drawers

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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Help your child learn how to harness the clutter—in a dresser or in a desk.
The Busy Kid’s Guide: Organizing Drawers
Your child’s desk and dresser drawers are likely overflowing with everything from mismatched socks and no-longer-fitting tops and bottoms to whatever else he feels like shoving into them.

Don’t waste time fretting over the mess. Instead, think of it like this: You’re raising a child who loves to fill his personal space with special items. Just resolve to teach your child to organize his drawers using strategies that will last a lifetime. The immediate payoff is orderly drawers and the ability to find items easily. But organizing also helps kids build counting, classification, sorting, fine motor, and spatial skills, and their confidence and competence soar.

Where to start: The bedroom

Organize this: Dresser drawers

Do this with: Your school-age child

Degree of difficulty: It’s time-consuming, but not hard.

Duration: Up to 30 minutes to evaluate clothing, another 30 or more to fold clothes and put them away

Assistance needed: Yes

You’ll need: A bag for donations, another for trash, a marker and labels, plastic boxes for items designated for closet and under-the-bed storage

Goal: Less stuff, more order

Step 1: Encourage your child to empty out her dresser. This allows her to evaluate what she has, identify what she wants to keep and what she needs, and determine which articles of clothing she wants to ditch or give away.

Step 2: Help your child quickly bag any clothes that don’t fit, she won’t wear, or are hopelessly stained, worn, or out of style. Set the bags aside. Next separate seasonal items. Store out-of-season clothes in plastic storage boxes in a closet or under the bed.

Step 3: Show your child how to group like items together. Let her put her tops in one pile (unfolded), and socks (with partners) in another. She can do the same thing with underwear, pj’s, sweaters, leggings, pants, and jeans.

Step 4: Teach her how to fold clothes for dresser storage.

Step 5: (Optional)Label drawers to help your school-age kid find what she needs as fast as possible and streamline her morning routine.And don’t forget to group items: Organize undies and pj’s in one drawer, school tops and bottoms in the next, and hoodies and tees in the one after that. Have your child place items she wears infrequently in slim, lidded stacking bins and store them under the bed.

Give yourselves props for: Rolling the clothes (suitcase style). It takes longer to do this, but if you proceed slowly and work carefully, you can reduce wrinkles and maximize space.

What to do next: Desk drawers

Do this with: The same kid who brilliantly organized his dresser.

Degree of difficulty: Challenging if he’s used his desk drawers (instead of a trash can) to stash candy wrappers, scraps of paper, random game pieces, and more

Duration: 30–60 minutes

Assistance needed: Yes

You’ll need: Trash bags; a marker and labels; plastic bags (for storing small items); shoeboxes to use while sorting; more boxes for memorabilia, notebooks, electronics, wires, and other things he wants to keep; cylindrical containers for desktop items

Goal: Eliminate garbage. Salvage supplies. Organize what’s left.

Step 1: Empty the desk drawers together. Help your child evaluate the contents. Discard all broken pens and pencils, scraps of paper, long-lost puzzle pieces, ticket stubs, tissues, stickers, decals, old batteries, binder clips, paper clips, rubber bands, and strings.

Step 2: Show your child how to group like things together.Have him put pens in one plastic bag or container, lead pencils in another, and colored pencils in a third. Label each bag and place it in a drawer. Organize and store Post-it notes, paper, markers, and model and craft supplies the same way.

Step 3: Let your child put his pared-down stuff away, placing items he uses most often in the top drawer first. If he prefers, have him store a few go-to pens and pencils in containers on the desk. Place larger, heavier items in lower drawers. Rustle up a trash can and encourage him to use it.

Give yourselves props for: Keeping a calendar on the desk.Urge your child to use it to keep track of assignments, projects, quizzes and tests, doctor and dentist appointments, parties, activities, and after-school events.

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Parents Talk Back
How many books do you currently have in your house? Include books on tape, audio books, and eBooks, as well as all hard and soft cover books that you own or have borrowed. Select one answer below.