For many children, Kindergarten is the first real test of their organizational skills. School papers, water bottles, hats, mittens, and other personal items may consistently come home in your child’s backpack, or they may regularly disappear into the ether. The good news is that no matter which camp your child falls into - neatnik or a little scattered - you can boost their organizational skills with some practice at home. Fay Kindergarten teacher Anne Canada shares her tips for preparing your child for the organizational expectations and routines of Kindergarten.
1 - Put everything in its place.
Most Kindergarten classrooms are highly organized spaces, and parents can prepare children for this environment by modeling it at home. In the Fay Kindergarten classroom, “all of the art materials are stored together, and all the games and puzzles are together,” says Anne. When similar items are grouped together, it is easier for your child to know where things belong. Create an organizational system for your child’s toys and games at home that will be easy for them to understand, follow, and maintain.
2 - Reinforce organization with labels and pictures.
One of the tricks to keeping a Kindergarten classroom neat is labeling each shelf or bin with text and a picture of the item that belongs there. For example, the container of colored markers will have a picture of a marker on the front and the words “colored markers” on a label. This gives kids visual cues that help them know where items belong while reinforcing word recognition and early literacy skills.
3 - Help them visualize the routine.
“Visual checklists are essential,” says Anne, who often recommends that families create short graphical lists to help children start to take responsibility for routines at home. For example, the visual checklist for bedtime could be a picture of pajamas, a toothbrush, and a book. This reminds your child to follow the bedtime routine of getting their PJs on, brushing their teeth, and then picking out a book to read. “Keep the lists short and manageable,” suggests Anne. “It lets your child know that these are the things that they are responsible for doing at night or before leaving the house in the morning.”
4 - Teach them how to clean up
Every parent knows that sometimes it’s faster to clean up after your child than to prod and guide them through the process. However, picking up after an activity is an essential organizational task in the Kindergarten classroom. Teach your child how to put things away by giving them specific, manageable tasks such as picking up all the rectangular-shaped blocks rather than cleaning up the whole block area. “We like to tease it out that way so that the kids have a specific target because otherwise, it’s overwhelming,” says Anne.