Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Organization: It's never too soon to learn

If you're like me, there's probably toys in every room of the house. If you're not, I applaud you and hope to be like you someday soon, before I hurt myself on yet another misplaced toy! I have been putting off labeling my kids' toy bins in their play area for a number of reasons, but that ends today...err, this week. Baby steps.

To make this task easier on myself, I googled pre-made labels and found some good ones on my first try from a cool organizing blog that just might work for us. They're not as grandiose as the ones I'd envisioned making myself, but who has that kind of time?? These are nice and will certainly do.

Now, for the lesson. Mom, here's something you might like to hear: When it's time to clean up LET THEM. It's never too soon to teach kids to be organized and neat; such skills are invaluable all throughout life, and a sense of responsibility can really boost their confidence and self-esteem. All of this has a positive trickle-down effect that will make them better people. I know having a little bit more organization in our household will help me function better as a homeschooler, with (most!) everything in its place.

  • Step one: Print labels like the ones here or make your own using printed photos of some of the items inside the bins
  • Step two: If they're able, have the kids help cut them out
  • Step three: Cover them in contact paper for durability
  • Step four: Attach sticky velcro tabs to the backs of them, and to the front side of organizing toy bins. 
  • Step five: The cleaning begins!

This exercise not only helps them feel a sense to duty to helping keep the house clean and neat, but  they'll also get some good practice in with sorting and, even getting the main idea. Even though that term is usually reserved for literature, it can extend to this exercise, because by giving each bin an appropriate label, they are summing up what the bin contains and learning to group other toys (ideas) in with what's there in front of them for the entire 'picture'.

Of course, we'll make the cleaning and sorting part fun, it'll be a game- I always add the timer to pique their level of interest in whatever we're doing. As they race to beat the clock, I usually get lots of giggles and laughs, and friendly competition. See? Organizing doesn't have to be pure drudgery, it can really be educational and fun!

NOTE: Don't forget to keep an empty storage container or trash bag handy for give-aways. Teach kids to be a little greener and a lot more generous by listing unwanted toys or items on Freecycle or donating them instead of throwing them away or allowing them to sit unused in your house. You'd be surprised who'll see your 'trash' as treasure.

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