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Organization tools every kid needs

Hi everyone! This month’s blog is all about organizing. We love fall around here. The weeks keep us pretty busy with Olivia’s brownie troop (cookies anyone?!), different classes at the local library and lots (and LOTS) of homework. You can image that calendars are pretty full, which, if not managed, can lead to a lot of chaos and stress in the mornings. Liv had an idea to write a blog about how we stay organized and ‘proactive’ (her words!). We sat down for a little brainstorming session and came up with the few tips you see here. We hope you have as much fun with them as we did- there are endless ways to stay organized and get creative in the process. Even though we are a pretty technology happy family (see our favorite Pinterest picks from What Moms Love here) many of the tips below center around our favorite tools in the house, such as a Visual Working For Board and our Erin Condren planner. If you would like to check out the EC planners feel free to use Liv’s referral link. There’s a great coupon in it for you. Be sure to leave a comment or show us a picture of your organizing tools- Liv loves to comment back in her own words!

Xoxo Olivia & Mom


How does a 7 year old stay organized? What does a 7 year old even know about organization?! Well, in this house we start early on organizing. Kids who are organized learn to be self-sufficient. Organization is the thinking skill that helps everyone do things like manage your daily schedule and put things into an order before completing a task. Organization helps you to make informed decisions, get the information you need and most importantly find stuff (hence our love of labeling). Our lives are so busy that it can become overwhelming very easily and make for some very stressful moments. And for kids like Liv, organization plays an even bigger role on building positive routines and positive behaviors that allow her to be in control, and feel accomplished. I don’t have to tell you that this leads to a more positive self-esteem and the confidence to make decisions on her own. We have been using organization skills with Liv since she was a toddler. Every year, as her capability and ability to take on more responsibility grows, so do the tools we use with her. Liv’s picks start here —>

 

It starts with a really good (and FUN!) planner

Most planners for adults can be really hard to follow with empty pages and no room to use your imagination. When we first found Erin Condren planners we knew we were in love. With fun and bright colors, personalized covers and inspirational messages throughout you really have the ability to create a planner that fits your personality. What’s more is this company has thought of everything you may need in a planner an have jam packed it with extras like bright stickers, folders for, menu planners and contact books. Liv makes sure we get a planner that is bright and colorful every year. This year we purchased the one with a picture of the globe, Liv wants to travel the world- and this is a fun way to keep her engaged and thinking really positively about her goals.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a brand new EC planner at your doorstep
We can’t show you all of our planner, but believe us- so much thought has gone into exactly what a family needs to stay organized. Liv loves the bright colors and positive messages, and I love that this is secretly getting her into great habits early in her journey!

 

Sticking with Morning & Nightly Routines

Mornings aren’t pretty – sometimes it is downright messy and frustrating. With all our after school activities and homework, managing to a schedule can be really difficult. What makes it worse is when something unexpected comes into that routine that throws us off. What always brings us back to center is coming back to our ‘checklist’ of what we have accomplished and what we have left to check off.

It starts at night- each night, we prepare ourselves for the next day. We write a few quick notes that you want to achieve for tomorrow (we do this in our planner).

Here are some examples:

  • What am I wearing to school tomorrow? We have #mindfulness Mondays and spirit days so keeping track in our planner is really important. You can go the extra mile if it works for you by getting hangers with the days of the week on them, or a daily clothing pouch to hang on your wall.
  • Am I bringing lunch or buying lunch? We print out your school lunch menu super small and put it in our planner on the month at a glance page. This makes our decision on buying turkey tacos or taking a meal from home easy to plan for each Sunday.
  • What projects are due today? Every week we have to hand in my reading logs- this gets its own sticker on every Thursday so it is easy to remember at a glance.

Set up a prep area at home- for after school activities

We prep for school with our backpacks, why not prep for after school activities? We have learned that having a designated space in our house for ‘after school activity bags’ that we can pack up ahead of time makes getting out of the house ON TIME easier. What does this look like?

  • For sports and dance- we take a picture of what needs to be IN THE BAG. We learned this from whatmomslove.com and have been doing it ever since. It has greatly reduced the amount of time we run around finding that missing leotard or soccer sock.
  • For religion and tutoring- we have separate pencil cases and notebooks for each- they don’t get used for any other purposes. We keep these in separate recycled bag we picked up at the store for $0.99.
Take a picture of everything that should go IN THE BAG, as seen here from What Moms Love

Visual Working for Boards

We never heard of them either until a few years ago when Liv’s first ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapist introduced them to us during a family training session. These boards are a very simple and visually stimulating way to easy anxiety during normally scheduled routines and tasks. These boards are a great way to provide some predictability during the schedule or task to help kids understand ‘what comes next’. An additional benefit to using these boards are that kids form positive habits.

For us, there are 2 ways we have implemented these boards. Many thanks to The Autism Helper and Home School Creations for their outstanding visual examples:

  • Visual Boards for tasks or schedules- helps to process information in bite size chunks.. You can use it to show a daily schedule (as with the picture example below) or break the task down into all its related parts (i.e. taking a bath- put clothes in hamper, wash hair, wash body, dry off, put on Pj’s etc)
  • Visual Working For Boards- accomplish the same routine for x amount of days = a treat of choice (also shown on the board)These boards are easily made with material you like have already around your house, and even more good news for those that would like a technology slant- there’s an app for that (Visual Working For by AME Mobile, Inc. $2.99 through the Apple Store)
Visual Working For board by The Autism Helper
The weekly workbox grid by Home School Creations

So there you have it. Liv’s picks on organizing for kids. She will tell you in her words that she enjoys taking a ‘proactive’ (there’s that word again!) role in planning her day. I will tell you that there is nothing like seeing your kid feel accomplished by seeing all her tasks checked off. Its not an easy road- trust us, there are bumps. But, helping her plan, set goals, and achieve them, whether you use your  planner every day or just a few times a week, and whether you set huge goals or small goals, in the end will help the entire family stay organized. We hope your family uses these tips to help your kids get organized! Post your comment below, we look forward to reading them!

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