When I asked if homeschoolers need to teach organization, Anne-Marie wasn't so sure. She replied:
I would think homeschooled kids are less likely to need formal teaching [in organization skills], because they are more likely to see the creation of individualized organizational systems and to hear the rationale behind the systems.
In other words, kids see us organize our lives and belongings at home. They see our systems at work. So in theory, they absorb organization skills. Great point. But how do we help make sure our children really learn? I have two simple suggestions:
- Think out loud
When you're ready to leave church or a swim meet, stop and say out loud, "Do we have everything we came with?" Let your kids help you think that through.
When you walk in the front door with your kids, simply say out loud: "OK, let's put our coats away in their places. Lets put our shoes where they belong so we know where to find them next time."
When you get more books or clothes, ask them, "Where should we keep this so we always know where it is?" And then create a place for it.
Let your kids in on your thought processes. Demonstrate how you think through problems and come to solutions. It's a simple yet effective gift to give your children.
- Create a place for everything ... then put things away
We've all heard it before, but I find great wisdom in "A place for everything, and everything in its place."
When I walk in the door to my home, I know exactly what I'm going to do with my keys, coat, shoes and purse ... and the large stacks of books I often carry.
They go in the same place every time.
Our entry-way closet, with a place for everything.
Close the closet door and I have instant neat! (It's the simple things, right?)
Am I just compulsive? (Maybe.) But I don't waste time and thought finding somewhere to hang my coat; I always use the same hanger. When I leave the house the next time I know exactly where to find it.
And that's the goal with having a place for everything: you don't have to think about it.
Don't you have enough on your mind? Why waste the energy trying to call up a mental snapshot of where you last threw your keys? The goal is to have as few of those moments as you can. So if you don't have a place for your keys, try to pick one now.
Again, this concept is something to model to your kids. For example, explain to them how you've organized your school space and why. Ask if they have ideas of where to keep their new science supplies. Ask for suggestions on the setup. They just might have a great insight.
Whatever our systems for organization, may it be that we model them to our kids. May we raise up children who are orderly and organized. I'm here to tell you that one day their spouses will thank you!
P.S. If it's hard to put things in their place or even create organization systems because of clutter, you may be wasting precious time. It's just not worth having too many things in your closet or around the house.
For simple help decluttering, check out a helpful PDF from our Sonlight homeschool consultants: Conquer Your Clutter in 8 Easy Steps.
For more intense help getting your house under control, I'd recommend The FlyLady. I haven't personally used her system, but I know many who have. I love her tagline: You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where you are. She reminds you that imperfect housework still blesses your family (and yourself).