"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date; no time to say hello-goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" So bemoans the White Rabbit as Alice watches him scurrying down the rabbit hole.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was just a scene from a movie or pages from a book?
However, this same lament is muttered in households all over the globe. And if I had to take my best guess, this sentiment is most frequently voiced in the morning, trying to get to work and school.
In my experience, there are three major areas of difficulty parents report regarding their children's school work: study skills, motivation and organizational/time management skills. My last article focused on motivation.
This month, I would like to focus on the third major area of difficulty interfering with children's grades (and I suspect most of our lives to some degree or other, as well). I'm referring to time management and organizational skills.
While organization and time management are actually two different issues, they frequently go hand in hand. Organize means "to put in order;" time management, "make effective use of one's time." When time is not used well, disorganization tends to occur. Better known as "chaos," by some; "the story of my life," by others.
Take leaving in the morning, for example. Often I find that too many details are left until the morning, resulting in a scramble under the pressure of time. Some of the morning rituals, such as showers, making lunches, searching for lunch money, packing up backpacks, signing permission slips, putting cereal and bowls on the table and even picking out clothes are chores that could be relegated to nighttime rituals (Depending upon how hectic your nights are).
I strongly recommend that backpacks are packed, double-checked and ready to go, with all the necessary requirements for the following day (short of sticking lunch in) and either at the door, or even already in the car before your child goes to bed. This eliminates some of the last minute hassles.
Backpacks-there's a real fine example of the need to 'put things in order.' I see many parents start their children off the first day of school with a system that should take care of all their organizational needs; only to find by the end of the first week that the folders haven't been used, the assignment pads haven't been written in and the crayons are now where the pencils go, and the pencils are nowhere to be found. The key here is that you found this out early. There are two things to remember when dealing with backpacks and organization. Firstly, there are many ways to organize, and your way may not work best for your child. Secondly, like most other skills, organization needs to be taught.
I highly recommend that you review the state of your youngster's backpack on either a daily (for the young ones) or at least weekly basis. It is important to monitor whether students have any idea where anything is, if you have seen and signed everything you were supposed to, and whether or not things like homework and permission forms are actually being turned in.
If any of the above issues are problematic, then it is a sign that you need to review the system and perhaps modify it so it is more user-friendly. I encourage praise and reinforcement for signs of organizational efforts. You may also need to use the same strategies for your child's desk!
Try to find some time to take a look at what's working and not working regarding morning routines and backpack organization. Then, try to work out some of the kinks. Evaluating and making changes on a regular basis can help ease the sense of disorder, and increase a sense of order and control of potentially chaotic situations.
By doing so, you can begin to, "put things in order" a bit more, and experience the bedlam a bit less.
Clinical psychologist, Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., has a specialized practice in Melbourne, working exclusively with children, adolescents and families.
To contact Dr. Vicki regarding her workshops, seminars or publications, call (321)-722-9001or visit www.askdrvicki.com.