The ability to stay organized and on task isn’t something that is intuitive to most children. This is definitely a learned skill– and if we are being completely honest, many adults still struggle with this very issue. So, how do we help a forgetful child? How do we teach them to become more organized?
Check out these simple easy to implement strategies!
How to Help a Forgetful Child
Having a routine will help your child stay on task like nothing else. For example, if the first thing they do every morning is brushing their teeth before you know it, they can move through their morning without too much thinking.
If every day when they get home they empty their backpack and always put it in the same place, before long it becomes rote.
The hardest part of a routine is sticking to it. Depending on your schedule, it may be your family can only consistently stick with a morning routine or weekend routine, but wherever you can work it in– it pays dividends.
Remembering what they always forget.
Another of my favorite ways to help children stay on task and keep organized is with lists and calendars! If your child can’t read, no problem– you can accomplish the same thing, with pictures.
It’s important to know that this is a process and will take some time for this habit to really stick. Celebrate the wins and talk through the struggles. It’s been shown in studies that it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a habit– 3 weeks!!
We have a family command center in our house. It’s where my kids hang their backpacks, its where they put their lunchboxes, its where important papers go, its where we keep the family calendar, all the really important stuff we need?? It happens here.
Our command center is where I keep their lists.
The girls have their daily to-do list– getting dressed, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, etc. They also have a checklist for when they get home from school.
For all the people who are calling me a rigid jerk of a mother, you can put “free time” on the checklist. The point is to give them a heads up on what’s coming up. I’ve found letting them know ahead of time also fosters cooperation.
Pro-tip: If you have a wall clock you can assign times to when the schedule changes. If we are moving from a preferred activity to something they don’t typically want to do (like going from free time to getting ready for dinner), I like to give them a 10-minute, 5-minute, 2-minute warning. If you are super organized, you could build that into the schedule with an alarm clock– but this would really be dependent on your kids’ disposition and needs.
I’m a big fan of age-appropriate chores and each of my kids (even the 3-year-old) has their own checklist of things they need to do every day.
Along with our lists, we also have a big monthly calendar. If my kids have after-school activities, PE (need to wear sneakers), playdates, etc. I put it all on this calendar.
Calendar tips: We color code each family member. My three-year-old gets pictures, my oldest two just get it written out for them. At the end of each day, we cross out the day we have just completed so we know where we are on the calendar.
Having the calendar helps them know what they need to get ready for the next day. It lets them know what to expect for their day at school and helps to plan out school lunches (if your school publishes the lunch schedule like ours does).
Eventually, when everyone is a little older, I’m going to transition us all to an electronic calendar- like Google Calendar, but for now, my printed calendars are doing quite well for us.
If having a calendar to keep your life organized sounds like something you need, check out my post on 10 Areas of Your Life that NEED Google Calendar!
My Ultimate Reminder Hack
But Kristen (you say), all your lists and calendars are great, but what about when my child is at school. How am I going to remind him/her to bring home their homework (fill in: lunch box, swim bag, permission slip, library book)??
Are you ready for the 1 simple thing that I found that rocked my second grader’s world??
Wrist reminders. For less than 2 cents/day, I can send a reminder with my child to school.
Wrist reminders were an absolute game changer in helping my forgetful child. Library books would sit in her backpack waiting to be returned for a week because she would get to school, get distracted and it. never.happened.
One day as I was writing myself a note, I remember thinking, “If only I could send the note to school with her, to help her remember– but she’d lose it before she even made it off the bus. I’d have to tie it around her arm!”
That thought rattled around in my brain all day before I realized there was a much simpler option. I adore these bracelets. There are a few different colors so you can color code which bracelets mean certain things or you can simply grab a sharpie, write the reminder, put it on their wrist (or backpack strap depending) and when they get home, you cut off the bracelet. So. Simple. So effective!
These have worked so well, that my daughter will grab one herself when she knows she needs to remember something.
Teaching her these strategies so she can help herself is where the battles are won, ya’ll!
I would love to hear about your strategies to help forgetful children become more organized. Please comment below!