Do homeschoolers need to teach organizational skills?

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I asked my staff a question recently, and I'd love to hear what you think, too. Do homeschoolers need to teach organizational skills to their children? Is there something Sonlight can or should do to facilitate this?

I've always been an organized person. I naturally "give a place to everything and put everything in its place." But not all my children learned from my example or inherited this trait!

One of my children seems unorganized. When he was young, I thought he was just messy. Then in his high school years, he kept nearly everything he owned in a jumbled heap in the trunk of his car; I just attributed it to messiness with a touch of laziness.

But I've since realized: it wasn't that he didn't care. My son truly lacked some important life skills. If I had taught him organizational skills, they probably could have helped him immensely in his high school and college years.

I just finished an interesting book about this very topic: The Organized Student: Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond, by Donna Goldberg and Jennifer Zwiebel. It chronicles how they help disorganized public school students develop the skills they need to make it through school and beyond.

The authors say that disorganized students in public schools fear they won't have what they need, so they carry it all on their backs. When the teacher asks for a completed assignment or permission slip, students just rifle through their backpacks hoping the right paper will appear.

In grade school, these kids function OK because their teachers do so much to manage the paper shuffle. In junior high, these students start to struggle. They have multiple teachers with many subjects and no one holding their hand anymore. If they don't get help in junior high, they can really fall behind in high school. Not because they're lazy or unintelligent, but because they lack organizational skills.

I read this and thought, Wow! Are we doing our homeschooled kids a disservice? So often in a homeschool, mom keeps track of every paper, cleans up the school area and makes sure everything gets put back into its place. Students aren't naturally forced to develop organizational systems.

But when students go off to college (or jobs or any other calling), they must keep track of assignments, papers and all sorts of stuff. And, one day they'll have an entire house or apartment to organize. With bills, doctor's appointments and car insurance to keep track of, do they have the skills they need?

I really don't know the answer, so I'm asking you: What have you observed in your homeschool? Do your kids naturally know how to be organized? Do you teach organizational skills? Would you like to teach those skills? Is there a product or service that would help you teach organization?

I promise I'm not asking this to make you feel guilty. The last thing most homeschool moms need is another area to worry about. But if this is a legitimate area of need, I'd love to be able to help somehow. So please, share your thoughts. I'm eager to hear what you think.

Blessings to you and yours,

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