How to teach your grade-schooler organization skills

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Ginny Osewalt

Many kids struggle with basic organization and time management. You may need to work with your grade-schooler on these skills.

Here are seven ways to teach your child organization.

1. Recognize “wants” vs. “needs.”

  • Goal: Sort out and prioritize what your child wants to do vs. what your child needs to do.
  • Example: Your child does homework first. Playing with friends comes later.

2. Take one out, put one in.

  • Goal: Keep messes from becoming overwhelming.
  • Example: Your child has to put away what’s already out before taking out something new.

3. Categorize, label, and sort.

  • Goal: Keep things neat and orderly.
  • Example: Your child looks at toys, groceries, or homework to figure out which things go together.

4. Picture the day.

  • Goal: Know the order or events in the day.
  • Example: Your child plans out the day by drawing a picture of the day’s schedule as a comic book.

5. Make daily checklists.

  • Goal: Keep track of what needs to be done.
  • Example: Your child lists out things to do, checks off what’s finished, and transfers unfinished items to the next day’s list.

6. Keep a family calendar.

  • Goal: Plan for the future.
  • Example: Your child checks the calendar nightly to know what’s happening tomorrow.

7. Break big projects into smaller steps.

  • Goal: Make big projects easier to manage.
  • Example: Your child breaks a science project into steps — first coming up with an idea, then listing materials needed, and then gathering supplies before doing the experiment.

About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.


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