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Discipline & Safety        < Previous        Next >


Teaching Organization With the A-B-C-D Method


Q. One of the problems many teachers cite in kids today is that they are so disorganized. This translates into lost homework, late assignments, disjointed papers, and never being able to lay their hands on basic school supplies that they should have right at their fingertips. You get the feeling that disorganized kids come from disorganized homes. It has to be hurting their schoolwork. Maybe parents are too busy rushing around on their impossibly difficult schedules these days, but is it true that they are falling down on the job when it comes to teaching their children simple organizational skills?


It very well could be. It's uncanny how students who tend to be organized in school and can focus on schoolwork resisting distractions tend to have at least somewhat organized desks at school, and rooms at home.


On the other hand, there are many very smart students whose backpacks, lockers and at-home study spaces are so messy and disorganized, it's a wonder they get anything done at all.


These generalizations are not always true, of course: there's always the genius kid with the impossibly messy room who still pulls all A's, and the school slacker whose room at home could pass the white-glove test. We all know kids whose baseball card collection is precisely organized in minute detail alphabetically and by batting order, while they have no idea what county their bike might be in right at that moment.


Let's put it this way: lack of discipline, and underachievement, come in all shapes and sizes!


But still . . . it's worth it to help a child get organized. Teach your child a common-sense way to clean closets, cupboards and drawers, and maintain a neat and orderly desk at school, with these tips from household organization expert Deniece Schofield.


It's called "The A-B-C-D method." Here's how it works:


Define and store each item based on its frequency of use. The more often you use something, the more convenient and prominent its storage location should be:


A: something used every day (you should never have to move anything to get to an A)


B: something used several times a month


C: something used infrequently (you shouldn't have to move it to get to an A or B)


D: dumpster, Disabled American Vets, or other deserving agency - so rarely used, you should give it away


Take one closet, shelf or drawer at a time. Use those odd 5-10 minute segments that we all have, if we would just take advantage of them, to do one small thing: empty out that one closet, shelf or drawer, put the items in A-B-C-D order, wipe surfaces, and replace the A's, B's and C's.


Dispose of the D's . . . and your child earns an "E" for "Excellent"!


Homework: If your disorganized child is a little older, in high school, and you really want to attack this problem, get the book The Organized Student: Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond by Donna Goldberg.


By Susan Darst Williams Discipline & Safety 08 2008


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