Organization Skills for Elementary Students: 8 Easy tips for Parents

by | Jan 30, 2024 | Parenting

Learning practical organizing skills is an important part of every child’s development. Developing these skills early in life will have lasting benefits, allowing them to be more productive and confident.

Yet, organizational skills don’t come easily for everyone.

Fortunately, you can help your child improve their organizational skills. Here are 8 effective organization skills for students to help your child learn how to organize their school work and time.

Does your elementary student struggle with organization?

Everyone gets disorganized every now and again, including elementary children. For instance, they may go from one task to the next without finishing, forget an item at school on occasion, or need help to start a complex school assignment.

However, chronic organization struggles can lead to significant or ongoing problems in their everyday life. For example, their struggles may cause them to get behind on school work, lead to increased frustration, or make it hard to get things done.

Some signs of organizational challenges may include:

  • Having a consistently messy workspace
  • Misplacing schoolwork or materials regularly
  • Forgetting to take materials back and forth from school
  • Struggling to stay on task or to complete tasks
  • Having a messy, disorganized backpack
  • Struggling to set priorities or make plans

Why are organizational skills important for elementary students?

Organization skills for students involve more than keeping things in order. Organization also involves the ability to keep your thoughts in order, making it easier to retrieve and use learned information.

For instance, students who struggle to organize their physical items and their thoughts may have difficulty with:

  • Learning new information in a logical manner
  • Prioritizing
  • Making plans
  • Staying focused on a task
  • Getting tasks done

This can make it harder for them to keep up at school and with their homework, leading to increased frustration and potentially falling behind.

Benefits of learning how to be an organized student

Teaching good organization skills for students at an early age can have lasting benefits and help them acquire critical life skills that they can use throughout their life.

Some common benefits of learning organizing skills include:

  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Better academic performance
  • Increased productivity and time management
  • Feeling less stressed
  • Increased happiness
  • Increased ability to prioritize effectively

8 Effective organization skills for students that parents can teach child

Working with your child to develop core organizational strategies can be rewarding and fun. Here are some practical tips to enhance organization skills for students.

1. Provide support and understanding

Your child will make mistakes as they learn how to develop better organizational skills. But you can help them by offering support, empathy, and understanding when something goes wrong. This approach will help improve their self-esteem, help them feel understood, and motivate them to keep trying.

For example, you can:

  • Acknowledge and praise their effort first.
  • Depending on their age and maturity level, ask them what went well and what wasn’t as helpful.
  • Point out what worked.
  • Offer suggestions on ways to handle the situation differently moving forward.
  • Keep them involved in the process so you’re working together.

Try to avoid speaking harshly, telling them they’re wrong, or scolding them. These actions can make them feel bad about themselves and that they can’t learn to be organized.

2. Help them break down complex tasks

Some students need help to break multi-step tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Work with them to show them how to take big projects, chores, or assignments and divide them into steps or smaller goals so they feel less overwhelmed.

For younger children, tasks that may seem straightforward to you may feel complicated to them. So, keep them involved in the process. For example, you can:

  • Ask them how they would complete the task to see if they can identify steps to successfully do the task.
  • If they struggle, ask them what’s the first thing they can do to get started and then prompt them with what they would do next.
  • If they struggle or are too young to do that yet, you can help by breaking the task down into manageable chunks for them.

3. Teach time management techniques

Learning how to manage time is a valuable skill. Very young elementary students who are still learning about time may not be ready to fully embrace this strategy. But as they progress through elementary school, you can help them begin to recognize how they spend their time and identify how long typical tasks take to help them plan better.

For instance, ask (or help) your child estimate how long a homework task will take. After they finish the assignment, check how accurate their time estimate was. This strategy can help them start to judge how long things take. And sometimes can even motivate kids to stay focused so they can complete a task in the time they set aside.

You can also help them set a post-school routine so they know what to expect after school and when they will do their homework and other tasks (including time for play!). You can use a picture-based or written schedule to make it fun and easy for them to remember their routine.

4. Encourage effective list-making habits

Checklists are effective, simple tools to help provide structure and order to your child’s tasks and learning so they stay on task. Checklists and to-do lists also help support routine and memory, allowing your child to be more in control and accountable for their actions.

For younger students, you can create simple, task-based checklists that may include the individual steps to completing multi-step projects, assignments, or chores. You can incorporate simple images and colors to make them more engaging.

As your child gets older, get them involved in creating checklists so they start to understand the process.

You can use any tool that works well for your child, including dry-erase boards, paper formats, or smartphone apps.

5. Make use of school planners designed for elementary students

Student planners can help your child track and remember what they need to do, including schoolwork and chores. Planners can also help your child learn how to plan ahead so they can see how to manage their time proactively.

There are a variety of paper planners available for elementary students that include pictures, color, fun facts, and large spaces to write. Some planners are themed to further engage young children.

6. Explore visual-based organization tools and techniques

Being organized can make school work and homework less stressful for everyone and set your child up for learning success.

Visual-based organization tools and techniques can be especially helpful for elementary students. However, not all tools and techniques work for everyone, so feel free to modify and try different things until you find what is best for your child. For instance, some kids prefer paper and pencil tools, while others may gravitate toward tech-based apps.

Some visual-based tools and strategies include:

  • Color-coding subjects such as using a set color for math, science, and language.
  • Using colored pencils or pens for different tasks on the to-do list or planner.
  • Apps that help encourage and reinforce habits by making it like a game.
  • Posting to-do lists, visual schedules, or daily routines in easy-to-see places.

7. Help them learn how to manage their backpack, binders, and workspace

Some students struggle to keep their binders, folders, backpack, and workspace organized. This can lead them to misplacing or losing items and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

You can help by:

  • Setting aside a set place for homework if possible.
  • Working with your child to set up a place to store materials they commonly need to complete their schoolwork and encourage them to return the items back where they belong after they’re done.
  • Creating a habit of going through their backpack together at least once a week (or more if needed) to keep it cleaned out and organized.
  • Going through their binders, folders, or loose papers together to make sure they’ve dealt with any tasks that need done, such as giving you papers to sign, showing you school flyers, and putting upcoming to-dos on their planner or organizational tool.

8. Set up a planning habit or routine

Another critical skill is learning how to think ahead. You can help your child learn how to plan ahead by setting aside a set time each day to review what they need to do for the next day.

For instance, after homework time or before bed, ask your child what tasks, events, or activities they know they have the next day. Talk with them if there’s anything special they need to do to prepare, such as setting out a specific outfit for a clothing-themed day at school or making sure they have gathered an item for show and tell.

This step can help them feel more confident and in control of their schedule and help avoid feeling rushed or stressed in the morning.