Getting Kids Organized: Foolproof Strategies for Busy Families #TeachMeTuesday

As we leave March Break behind and start the transition to another season, it’s time to talk spring cleaning – with an organizational twist. One of the most popular questions parents ask us at Teachers on Call is how to keep kids organized?  Parents speak of messy desks, cluttered lockers and knapsacks stuffed with papers. One common theme, all are looking for solutions and organizational strategies to help their kids succeed in school and in life. As adults we often struggle with this very thing, so how can we instill an appreciation for organization in our children at a young age?  For tips and tricks on this very subject we consulted organization guru Deanne Kelleher from kAos Group, professional organizers in the business of maximizing work and living space and eliminating organizational chaos. Deanne urges parents to think about their child’s personality and to ask the following questions. Does he/she:
  • Excel at efficient procedures?
  • Tend to focus on the big picture?
  • Take rules like suggestions?
  • Maintain a positive atmosphere?
“The answer is probably a little bit of everything,” says Kelleher, Founder and Principal of kAos Group. “But at the core, some individuals have a need for organization and structure while others can be more flexible. As adults, we intellectually understand that teaching our children to be organized and creating systems for their daily activities, like brushing teeth, getting dressed, doing homework and packing their bags each day, is important to their overall well-being and success with time and task management.  But it can be very challenging to ‘create’ and teach ‘organizing’ when the adult struggles with these ‘systems’ themselves. “ Here is a strategy from kAos Group to carry a family through to success with organizing specific areas:


  • Collaborate: Share why you want to do this for them
  • Motivate: Determine what their motivation to participate is
  • Schedule: Put it in the family calendar and work one-on-one


  • Timer: Start by knowing how much time you’ll spend on the activity. Use a timer to keep you on track.
  • Sort and Group: Sort items into groups. Those groups might be socks, books, crafts, Lego, etc.
Tip: This might take some time the first time round – it doesn’t’ need to be perfect!
  • Create: Three groups to help you define what stays and what can go—Donate, Garbage, Keep
  • Dispose: Give children permission to throw away items that can’t be donated and aren’t being kept like markers that have dried up, broken pens, toys and damaged clothes.
  • Put things away at the end of your session and schedule another time to work on it again


  • Paper Files: Create a filing system with their name and insert folders as required. You can start with Report Cards, Certificates and Instruction manuals. Consider a file box per child.
Link to Labels for JK to Twelfth Grade
  • Keepsakes: Kids will have keepsakes that are different from yours! Consider decorative boxes (that stack) for their room and the adults can store their items elsewhere.
  • Clothing: Getting dressed is to be a simple process not an activity!
Read more about organizing kids closets here:
  • Maximize: Work with children to explore ways to maximize space in their bedroom.
  • Add a shelf or baskets inside the closet to store out of season clothes,
  • Add a donation bag for clothes they grow out of
  • Use hooks (behind the door) to hang sweat shirts
  • Use a door-hanging shoe organizers to group together dolls, magazines, tights, socks or ….shoes J
  • Use stackable containers for small toys and keepsakes
    • Promote that children get involved in labelling and don’t expect perfection from them either.
  • TMT_3_17_Pic_2
  • Schedule: Promote children to use their school agendas for school work activities and maintain one family calendar for activities, holidays, play-dates, etc.
 Just think, you’ll be helping them learn time management and plan their future! TMT_3_17_Pic_3 Homework Zone: have one designated are for homework with good lighting, the supplies they need and a consistent place to keep all their school related items. Consider using Magazine boxes to hold their agenda or small school booklets, and loose paper


  • Containerize: Keep like items grouped together and labelled. Use Rubbermaid All Access ™ containers so that children of most ages can play and tidy up!


A few final tips:

  • Keep your systems simple
  • Label everything
  • Follow your systems
  • Tweak and tidy your systems – regularly!
  • Know that the systems you set up today will change as they grow
  Contributed By: Joanne Sallay Joanne - Professional Pic             Joanne Sallay is a Director at Teachers on Call, a personalized home tutoring service with more than 25 years of experience. Teachers on Call’s Ontario Certified Teachers specialize in providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades including French Immersion tutoring.
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