Tony’s trying to help his son learn to organize himself:
I was searching through older articles looking for tips on helping kids build organizational skills. Our 7-year old son is quite bright and active, but has extremely poor organization skills. Partially the way a 7-year old boy is wired, I’m sure, but it’d be nice to work on strengthening him in this area. We’re hoping to come up with some ways to get him to focus on single tasks and maybe organize his own schedule a bit, as per this hack. We may tweak it a bit to be more task-oriented, but it’s a great hack.
Anyways, if appropriate, I’d love to see a discussion about it.
More than appropriate! A fantastic topic for discussion, especially with kids back in school. Our son has great difficulty organizing himself as well, and we have found that the two best supports are routines and visual prompts.
Routines: We’ve come up with routines for school mornings, mealtime, coming home from school, evening, and bedtime. We encourage him to complete them in order so eventually it will become rote habit. We also reward him with a "point" each time he completes his routine.
Visual prompts: Routines and other reminders are posted around the house, in the kitchen, his bedroom, etc. During the summer, I took to writing a "daily agenda" and then planned with him how he was going to do the things he wanted to do (play his game time, etc.) within the constraints of the agenda. Calendars, planners, anything that makes time and location concrete. When he was younger, we used the Melissa and Doug magnetic calendar and responsibility chart.
Granted, both of these require a lot of coaching, but it’s the first step in learning to do it himself.
I would also encourage you to talk to your pediatrician (or, even better, a developmental pediatrician) about his focus problems. There could be a medical component to this as well.
What are your suggestions for helping a child learn organizational skills?