Kas Winters

Kas Winters

Organize in simple ways to keep kids on track.
by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™

Kas Winters

Mother of Family Ideas

It’s a new year and a great time to put systems in place to make your life and that of your children easier. Sometimes, all it takes is a couple of file folders in a set location such as a box, basket, tote, tub, or holder on top of the microwave, near the front door, or in the corner of a kitchen counter. Label a few folders as needed. Choose a place where papers can be moved directly from backpacks to the proper location. This is especially helpful for school papers that need to be returned to teachers, details about assignments and projects, events and other school or extra-curricular activity dates and contact information. Work to establish a habit of putting papers there as soon as students get home from school and also try to remember to check the “Return to Teacher” folder before kids leave for class each morning. Make sure everyone knows that the folders should not develop legs and move to other locations in the house.

Create a place for homework and projects to happen. Make sure there is a flat surface for writing and creating. Provide tools and materials nearby. Put pencils, paper, pens, erasers, rulers, a calculator and other school/office items in a container or drawer so children have easy access and parents don’t need to play seek and find. Keep a small supply of craft resources for school projects too. Having poster board, markers, glue, scissors, string, pipe cleaners, paint, brushes and such, can help to avoid late night runs to the store for projects due in the morning. If space and budget allow, a computer and selection of reference books are useful too. (Even though most students now go online for answers, books are still quite useful!) I do recommend that TV and studying are not combined. Once the schoolwork is complete, there can be an option for electronic communications. Kids have other ideas about this, but if you stick with the program, you are quite likely to get good results in both behavior and academics.

Enlist children’s help with household activities. This teaches them life skills, responsibility and helps to create a sense of “family” with each person doing something to support the efforts of all. Teach them new skills as they grow in ability. Start with simple things like setting the table, putting clothes in the hamper or sorting laundry. Chore charts are useful. We always used them and had great results. Our plan, which might be different from yours, was to give a small allowance to each child and provide the opportunity to earn extra income by completing chores that were in addition to those considered their “job” as part of the family. Rewards were given on a monthly basis. Sometimes kids were given a treat, a small toy or extra cash and other times the prize was an outing of some sort or a family game night with snacks.

Provide “homes” for items. Boxes, plastic tubs, baskets and drawers that are designated for specific things play a role in spending less time looking for lost stuff and make cleaning a room easier. Little children need help with cleaning tasks, but it can be a time to teach them and establish routines that work. If older children get out of the habit of putting items where they belong, let them suffer the consequences of looking for or losing things. At that point, it is not mom or dad’s job to keep track of their belongings.

This isn’t a project with instantaneous results, but taking a few steps in the direction of organizing children, parents and a household has great value. Mom shouldn’t have to “DO IT ALL.” It saves time, helps to avoid frustration, and can even make all family members feel proud of themselves. Developing positive habits is good for grades, self-esteem, and builds family relationships when you do it together.

For more family ideas, go to my Web site at: http://www.winmarkcom.com/familyactivities.htm

For January holidays and activities, check out: http://www.winmarkcom.com/januaryholidays.htm