From first-hand knowledge, I know that a child can struggle in class, lose assignment sheets and notes, miss assignments and forget to bring home books needed to complete homework if he or she is not organized. My husband and I are working through this problem with our eldest two.
That is why I was elated to recently learn about the benefits of teaching children “executive functioning skills.” They are the type of skills top or mid level execs use to succeed in work but certainly can apply to kids as well.
Organization and focus are key qualities for many successful adults, but these skills do not come naturally to grown ups, imagine if you were taught it at a young age and grew with those skills.
The Glenholme School in Washington, Connecticut actually has a program called “Executive Functioning Skills” which helps its students focus on tasks at hand, prioritize and organize in a way that will help them throughout their lives even after leaving school.
Here are 5 tips that Maryann Campbell, Executive Director of The Glenholme School, offers to assist all parents and children:
1. Stash and trash – Prevent mountains of papers from accumulating by learning what to keep and what to toss. This is a very important skill, even for the most organized adults! Teach children at a young age what types of documents to keep and throw away as well as how to best organize the materials they are keeping. Your future storage bins will thank you!
2. Balancing work and fun – It is important to teach children that there is a time for work and a time for play, and that they are both important for a well-balanced life! Make time for studying, afterschool activities and dinner with the family.
3. Manage the day – Parents have planners, and so should children! Teach your child to use a day planner or calendar, where they can record their school work, after-school activities, social events and family time. Whether it is paper or digital, it doesn’t matter. The point is that the child learns to manage their time and sets realistic expectations for each day.
4. Organize assignments – Parents can help their children stay organized with color-coded folders and a desk-top storage system for their school work. Children also really enjoy label makers. Divide the folders and storage containers by subject, and teach children how to label accordingly.
5. Lightening the backpack without losing the work – We’ve all witnessed the tiny child with the gigantic backpack that weighs nearly as much as they do, as well as the extreme opposite of the student who shows up to class without a pen or paper. Teaching children to carry what is important for the day will help them be better prepared for class. Go over the day’s activities the night before, make a list of what classes and activities the child has and pack accordingly.
This solid advice should help parents have a basis and foundation for passing on these critical skills to their children.
photos: courtesy Ikea, The Glenholme School