Child Sense: Helping your child learn the basics of organization

Priscilla J. Dunstan

Teaching our kids how to be organized starts at an early age. The habits that will aid them as they move through life start when they are young with simple systems learned at home and in their own space. Even when they are young, they can learn how to put away their toys, pack their bags and help with keeping their space organized. Use your child’s dominant sense to make the process easier and the clean-up system more personalized for your child.

Tactile children do best with category- and utility-based organization stations. For a tactile child, unless the things they need are right in front of them at the time they need it, they will tend to forget where they are stored. The toothbrush and toothpaste will need to be at the sink rather than in the cabinet, their school bag will need to be at the door, their clothes organized and placed ready to put on clean from their bath or when they wake. Organization should consist of quick storage such as tubs, boxes and hooks, even for clothing and school items. Shoes are easily placed in a large tub at the door, school books can be organized into colored boxes based on subject and sports gear is easy to find when kept hanging on hooks in netted bags.

Visual children will do best when things have a place and home outside of view. This may seem counter intuitive for a visual child, but they take great joy in organizing their items neatly and knowing exactly where everything is. They will, however like a visual list, to remind them, neatly written and placed discreetly. When organizing their wardrobes or drawers, pick a theme based in either color, size or utility, and allow them to fit their things to that classification or organization pattern. Most importantly, allow them plenty of display space on wall shelves to show off their many collections.

Auditory children can appear to be on the untidy side, but there will be a pattern to their madness. Think organized chaos, so it’s important to work with your auditory child rather than stepping in and tidying yourself. This doesn’t mean that they can be untidy, rather allow them the freedom to organize and keep tidy in their own way. They will prefer open cupboards and shelves for clothes and toys, and this is actually a direct link to deadening the sound in their room. If your child is habitually lining their floor with stuffed toys and clothes, invest in some basic sound deadening items like rugs, padded headboards, curtains and chairs to soak up the sound. You will be surprised at the difference this unusual step will make to your child’s natural organization skills.

Taste and smell children will tend to be collectors. They will want to keep every ticket from every theme park, every gift, toy or item of clothing that was given to them and every card, memento and book to remind them of the tiniest of things. This is when a journal and a camera will come in handy as rather than keeping the sweater that is two sizes too small, or the very ugly doll; take a picture and have them write a detailed caption. This will preserve the memory and satisfy your taste and smell child’s need for personal connection with the added benefit of freeing up a lot of space. Expect them to have a lot of photos that they will want to display, so either allocating a dresser, shelf or even hanging frames on the walls will help to keep things tidy.

Organization is a basic life skill, and it is easier for your child to maintain when it is in line with their dominant sense. Rather than making it a chore, have fun learning about your child’s way of thinking and set up an organization system that works for both you and your child.