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Excerpt from Foundations of Education: Teaching Organizational Skills in the Home

boy putting legos in a plastic bin

Excerpted from Chapter 21 of Foundations of Education, Third Edition, Volume II, edited by M. Cay Holbrook, Tessa McCarthy and Cheryl Kamei-Hannan, and available at the AFB Store.

There are many strategies for teaching organizational skills in the home. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage the student to retrieve and replace toys from the storage area, such as a toy box, starting at an early age. Work with the child to create a system of organization for the child's toys so that he or she can be independent in keeping track of and locating toys of choice. Older children should take charge of organizing and maintaining their room.
  • Teach the student to arrange objects for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. Adequate storage space, consistent locations for items, and efficient labeling methods help the student to do so. Expose the child to general ways things are organized at home and school (for example, bins, bins with lids, folders, canisters, and so on) and talk about where things are generally stored to help the child start to deduce where he or she might find something.
  • Establish routines within the day (such as consistent meal and sleep times and a routine for bathing and brushing teeth before bedtime).
  • Have the student share some responsibilities at home (for example, participating in cleaning, taking out the trash, and setting the table). Many age-appropriate independent living skills tasks can also model how the world is organized. For example, having a young child bring utensils to the table or put utensils away once washed also provides an opportunity for sorting and examining how forks, spoons, and butter knives are kept separate in compartments to make it easy to find them later.
  • Teach the idea of using defined spaces to help keep things organized. For example, when cooking, working over a tray will contain items in a smaller place and make it easier to find the needed utensils (for example, a knife in the cup at the top of the tray). Have the student preplan and organize the materials needed to complete all the steps of a recipe.

For information about teaching organizational skills outside the home, read more in Foundations of Education, Volume II, Chapter 21, available in the AFB Store.

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