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Organizing is the ability to apply order to work, play, and storage spaces. It helps children keep track of things physically and mentally.

Children with poor organization skills can lose their line of thinking, as well as their possessions and assignments. They waste time looking for study materials, organizing their space, and deciding what to do. They also do not have a good handle on the contents of study text, having difficulty to highlight the important parts.

A middle school child with adequate organization skills is able to maintain school exercise books as re-quired, keep track of sports equipment and other belongings, and order his or her workspace to enable effective study. It is a good start to engage with study text, and selecting important parts to spend more time on.

What do I do to help my child improve his/her organizing skill?

Select one or two issues that your teen have with organizing materials and work space. Where necessary use the questionnaire scores as a reference. Maybe s/he has trouble finding everything needed to study is delayed or distracted by untidiness, or find it difficult to organize and get a feel for study content. Define the issues that need improvement as specific as possible, noting the frequency, severity, and consequences. Also, consider whether there is a common antecedent or trigger, what the typical situation is and who is involved. Formulate a goal for each issue. Break it up into smaller goals if possible.

Before you start with the intervention, sit down with your child and explain the problem, process, and importance of achieving the goals that you have set. Ask your child for input in setting goals and plans for improvement. Make her feel empowered in the process. In order to improve organizing ability, a structured approach is required. Set aside time to review your teen’s activities, prepare reminders such as calendars or schedules, and monitor her materials and work space. Consistently apply a routine and encourage the development of independent habits that support organizing. As soon as such a routine becomes a consistent habit, improvements in organizing should be noticeable and have a secondary positive effect on other performance areas too.

The following steps can be used to help a child improve her organization skills.

  1. Set a specific behavioral objective and measurable goal, such as to put away all belongings in appropriate places once a day.
  2. Decide whether there are any environmental changes that will support the objective, such as extra cupboard space, labeling of objects, etc.
  3. Set a meeting with your child and discuss your expectations. Decide together on an appropriate cue, for example, an alarm or written reminder.
  4. Stipulate a schedule, a daily start time, and a way to monitor completion. This can be done on a white-board or wall calendar.
  5. Decide together on a reasonable a reward for task completion and/or punishment for belongings lost or out of place.
  6. If you are disorganized too, make it a joint project.
  7. If you find that the system is too complex, simplify it initially.

As before, monitor your child’s progress regularly and provide feedback.

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