My last column discussed teaching order by having young children learn to organize their toys and rooms. This time we go to the next step of keeping track of schoolwork and the accompanying papers. This can turn into a lifelong concern, as “papers” seem to plague the world and challenge even the most organized individual. Learning how to circumvent the problems early on makes sense. And it’s not just the piece of paper we are talking about, but the information contained on it. So this translates to virtual paper as well, or computer documents. Losing information is still losing information regardless of its format. So, how do you keep track of information in your life?
Modeling how you handle paperwork will help your children. Read some of the back issues of this column to learn how to handle papers, but for now, it’s about the kids.
Start by setting up a place for the papers to go. The nice part is that they won’t have nearly the amount that we adults do. You can set up simple folders — using different colors for different categories. Be sure to make large, bold labels on the top for easy reading. You can create a miniature filing system for the children with proper labels based on the kinds of papers they may have. Even having one spot for all papers to go may be sufficient for your child.
The backpack. Yes, most are pretty scary, and they only get worse with time. Learning to control this area before it becomes the “black hole of life” is a good idea. The binder inside should be set up to contain the categories by subject that they will need for classwork. Having a special folder or location in front for the completed homework to turn in is a good idea also. Again, the same concept as expressed in the earlier column applies here: Create a place for everything, and teach children to put everything in it’s special place.
When a child begins to see that as they seek something, it is where they put it, this will become a desired result, and it will reinforce the behavior. This doesn’t stop as we get older either. Searching for something at the last minute is no fun. We all learn that when we do something right the first time, it eliminates stress and frustration down the road. Set up paper systems as soon as there is paper to handle. And don’t forget that the recycling trash bin may be the best place for some papers to go!