Chaotic Kids

chaotic-kids-articleBy Sonja Walker

Are your kids disorganised? Does it drive you nuts? You're not alone. Kids of all ages forget instructions, lose belongings and procrastinate. Parents all over Australia find themselves finishing the jobs their kids have started, simply because it's quicker, easier and more efficient. Sound like you?

It's no wonder our kids can't organise themselves - many have never been given a chance to learn how!
School teachers commonly complain about kids' inability to plan and execute even the simplest of tasks. Many say that the most successful students are not those with the brightest intellect, but rather, those who are best organised as they learn. Developing good organisational skills is a key ingredient for success at school and in life. Some kids are naturally more organised than others, but your children will benefit if you teach them to put routines and systems in place so that they can "get it together."

10 Tips for helping kids become responsible at home and school

1. Use checklists.
Get your kids into the habit of keeping a "to-do" list. Your children's checklists might simply detail the steps needed to get ready for school each morning. A list can also be used to keep track of assignments, household chores, and reminders about what materials to take to school. Kids who are visual learners often function better when reminders are right in front of them and crossing completed items off the list gives kids a sense of accomplishment.

2. Get homework time under control.
Before beginning a homework session, encourage your children to number assignments in the order in which they should be done. Your kids should start with one that's not too long or difficult - this builds a sense of success and achievement. Avoid saving the longest or hardest assignments till last - when children are tired, they are less likely to be motivated to persist in the face of a challenge.

3. Designate a study space.
Your children should complete their homework and study in the same place every time. This doesn't have to be their bedroom, but it should be a quiet place with few distractions. The tools they need to finish their homework should be at hand - a ‘homework box' containing a ruler, pens, pencils, dictionary and calculator is always a good idea for those who get distracted as they search for that missing, but essential, homework tool!
If your young children want to study with you nearby, you'll be better able to monitor their progress and encourage good study habits, however, make sure you encourage independence and avoid the trap of answering all the homework questions yourself!

4. Set a designated study time.
Your children should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework. The best time is usually not right after school - most children benefit from time to unwind first. Include your kids in this decision and realise that some boys and girls might work better in the morning. So if you are early risers, don't turn the TV on - get some homework done while your kids are fresh and compliant!
On days when your children don't have homework, the reserved time should be used to review the day's lessons, read for pleasure, or work on an upcoming project. The exception is Friday afternoons...all young kids need time to chill out and play with their mates!

5. Keep organised notebooks.
Kids get lots of worksheets at school, and this can turn into a messy paper nightmare. Help your children keep track of work by teaching them to organise worksheets in a binder, scrapbook or notebook. This will help your children to review the material for each day's classes and to organise the material so that they are prepared for tests and quizzes. You can use dividers to separate class notes, or colour-coded notebooks. Don't forget to decide on a central place to store completed assignments.

6. Conduct a weekly cleanup.
Encourage your child to sort through book bags, tote trays and exercise books on a weekly basis. Old tests and papers should be organised and kept in a separate file at home.

7. Create a household schedule.
Try to establish and stick to a regular dinnertime and a regular bedtime. This will help your children fall into a pattern at home. Kids with a regular bedtime go to school well-rested. Try to limit television-watching and computer play to specific periods of time during the day.

8. Keep a master calendar.
Keep a large, wall-sized calendar for the household, listing the family's commitments, schedules for extracurricular activities, days off from school, and major events at home and at school. Note dates when your children have big exams or due dates for projects. This will help family members keep track of each other's activities and avoid scheduling conflicts.

9. Prepare for the day ahead.
Before your children go to bed, they should pack schoolwork and books into their school bags. The next day's clothes should be laid out with shoes, socks, and accessories. This will cut down on morning confusion and allow your kids to prepare quickly for the day ahead.

10. Provide needed support while your child is learning to become more organised.
Help your children develop organisational skills setting a good example! When you keep checklists and schedules taped to the refrigerator, regularly

This article was written by Sonja Walker, a qualified teacher and busy mum. Sonja leads a team of highly experienced, specialist teachers and children's health professionals at Kids First Children's Services a unique integrated children's education and health centre in Sydney's Northern Beaches. Kids First offers a variety of programs for children aged 3 to 15, including its ‘Confident Little Kids' program for pre-schoolers and after school skills and tuition programs for primary and high school students. Kids First Children's Services also offers professional Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Educational Psychology, Clinical Nutrition and Dietary advice, Parenting Support and Counselling at it's Brookvale centre.

To contact Kids First Children's Services visit or call 9938 5419