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What does it mean to be “done done?” (Getting kids to finish tasks)

Ugh! Yet again I am greeted with my teenager’s glass in the sink crusted with his morning protein shake and a blender with protein goo floating in it. Yes, I am pleased that my teenager is taking an active interest in his health as he is determined to put on muscle weight. At the same time, I grow weary of the evidence of his efforts.

My teen is like an absent-minded professor and I am determined not to clean up after him. Taking care of their dirty dishes and empty cereal boxes would be easy, but I am not training them toward their future adult selves if I take on this task. It is time to teach him one of my favorite strategies, “Done Done.”

I learned this strategy from a Cognitive Connection training session with Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobs from their “Get Ready, Do, Done and Get Done” Process. The memorable phrase “Done Done” is an evolution of “Get Done.” I have used this strategy with everyone from youths to business owners.

The basic idea is that while there are multiple steps for any task, most of us think of it as a three-phase process:

  1. Get Ready:
    1. Identify the tools or things you need to do the required task
    2. Figure out what you have to do
  2. Do:
    1. Do the task
  3. Done:
    1. Complete the task

But there is also a magical fourth step — being “Done Done.”

What does it mean to be “Done Done?”

Does being done with breakfast just mean you have finished eating your bowl of cereal? Are you really done when you complete your math worksheet? For adults, are you really done with a meeting when the time is up? The answer to all of these questions is NO. There are still multiple steps to complete until you are actually “Done Done.”

For example, how did I have the conversation about being “Done Done” with respect to his shake? First, I mentioned that I liked seeing him take an active role in his health and well-being by drinking these protein shakes. I then described how part of my job is to teach him what it means to be “done done” with a task.  I also briefly asked him to consider the consequence of not completing the task: dealing with flies, mold, and the longer amount of time it would take to clean up later. Next, we went through the steps of cleaning out the blender and where to set it out to dry, and the need to rinse out the glass and put it in the dishwasher.

What could “done done” look like for your preteens?

Since school is right around the corner, let’s consider what it means to be “done done” with homework. Often, kids who struggle with executive function are notorious for leaving their completed homework at home or forgetting to turn it in all together.

The worksheet has been completed but there are still a few more steps.

Where does the worksheet go? Homework folder? Subject binder? Next we need to put the binder back into the back pack. For those kiddos who forget to turn in the homework, you can use bright sticky notes to remind them. Another idea I just learned is have different colored rubber bands which correlate to their different subjects. If the bands are on the right wrist the assignments in those subjects still need to be turned in. But when the assignments have been turned in the bands can be moved to the left wrist or put on a carbineer that’s attached to a backpack. So the kids are “done done” only when the band has been transferred.

For the little ones

For your little kids you can really have some fun with teaching the final steps of what it means to be “done done” with toys. Let your creative juices flow.

Remember, first we have to teach them what has to be done. Then, we need to do the steps with them and after that, let them do it independently — while we stand nearby. Eventually, we can give verbal reminders like, “do you remember what to do when you are done with your toys?” Even better, we can add visual cues. Here are a couple ideas about what that can look like:

  • A photo (or drawing) of your child playing with their toys
  • A second photo/drawing of them putting away the toys
  • The final photo/drawing of what it looks like when all the toys are neatly put away.

Now you can point to the pictures and they have a reference point. You could have their favorite stuffed animal participate and be the supervisor featured in every picture.

Perspective

It’s important to consider where you are starting from. You are looking for the small victories, and a willingness to make an effort, no matter how small. As parents, you will have to work extra hard to find the half full side of the glass, especially on those days where you are tired and exhausted. Trust me, I too have to remember this every day.

At the end of the day, your kids need some positive reinforcement to continue to make progress versus never feeling like anything is good enough.

Being a parent is about teaching, training and coaching through the process. Learning does not happen by accident. It requires understanding and a whole lot of practice, learning to do it poorly and building from there. We all started getting things “done done” somewhere.

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The Counter-Intuitive Turtle

I was cruising down a two-lane road on my bike one Friday evening and noticed a little turtle on the side to my right. The little critter was determined to cross the road. There was plenty of traffic and trucks thundering down the road so I decided to do a U-turn and intervene. Every critter counts after all, and I knew the odds were against this one surviving the precarious crossing. I would later learn from my friend Cameron Young, a local snake and reptile conservationist and executive director of The Nature Lab, that my little friend was a female paint turtle. Moving forward, I’ll call her Betsy.

I approached Betsy after carefully laying down my bike and waddling like a penguin over in my bike shoes to pick her up. She began to hide in her shell, which is what I was expecting. As I reached down she made a run for it. I was shocked. Turtles aren’t supposed to run! I thought of walking away and letting her fend for herself but instead, I ran after her which is no easy task in bike shoes. I leaned into my determination and grabbed onto Betsy and was astonished as her little legs frantically kicked against the air and her nails scraped against my fingers. We were off, as I awkwardly walked her across the busy road. When I let her go far from harms way, I realized the rest was out of my control and hoped I had done the right thing. But I knew my buddy Cameron would set me straight.

First, Cameron popped my bubble that turtles hide in their shell when confronted by danger. He told me that turtles, or at least the paint variety, often run. The better news, though, was that I had done the right thing. Saving Betsy was crucial. Based on the time of day, she was most likely off to nest and lay her eggs.  With such low survival rates for baby turtles, it is essential to help female adult turtles keep on laying eggs so we can maintain a diverse eco-system.

Even though I had thought Betsy was behaving counterintuitively when she ran, she was just reacting based on instinct. Ironically, I was the one who had reacted counterintuitively by holding on and by being so determined to see her safely across the road even though she had protested my actions.

 

But, sometimes, there is value in being counterintuitive.

 

In Tyler Durman’s 2015 book, Counterintuitive, he talks about how teenagers aren’t finished on the inside and how it takes a lot of “counterintuitive” reasoning to love and raise a teenager well.

For example, our job as parents is to provide safety and guidance even when our teenagers want more freedom. Most teenagers are not ready for total freedom, as “they’re not done on the inside.”  Teenagers, Durman says, “look to the behavior of the adults in their life to provide reassurance that everything is going to be okay. When the inner conflict between their desire for independence and their need to feel safe confuses parents, teenagers feel more fear, which can lead to anger and a new kind of testing.”

He also discusses how teenagers, “don’t test to win.” When your teen tests you and you’re passive, it is proof that your teen is more powerful than you. Teens fear this discovery. Tyler tells the story of going to check a single-wall construction house to ensure it wasn’t infested with termites. He walked around the structure pushing at it with a mallet because he wanted to ensure the walls were stronger then he was.  “[Teens] are not testing us because they want us to give in,” he says. “They’re testing because their deeper need is to find reassurance we won’t.” By providing clear boundaries you are providing your teens with security knowing that the walls are solid.

In my house there are no phones in the bedrooms. If a phone mysteriously finds its way upstairs, the kids lose the phone the next day. I have heard all the excuses: “I had to show my brother something and I forgot to bring it down. I swear I wasn’t on it.” I do twinge with a moment of weakness but then I remember that this rule is one of our non-negotiables. I simply say, “Our rule is no phones in the bedroom so please hand me your phone and you can try again tomorrow.” All teenagers long for the adults in their lives to stand behind the things they say with consistent strength. And when we do, they will respect us, even when they disagree with our standards.

When your kids push, they need you to stand and lean into your core values and stay consistent with your non-negotiables. I was determined to get Betsy across the road even though her little legs were battering against my fingers. I stayed true to my value of protecting nature and doing my best to make a positive impact even though Betsy would never say thank you.

But sticking by your teens as they bang and push the walls to make sure you are stronger than they are is not an easy task. Modeling vulnerability, dealing with failure, and communicating with your teen is a big part of getting them to the other side of the busy street.  Share your imperfections, your weaknesses and be willing to say things like: “I’m sorry.” Or, “I blew it.”

One of the greatest challenges is to let go and trust our kids to make good decisions.  .  “Like the rest of us, teenagers need a safe place to run when they fail,” Durman says. “They will run somewhere, and the way the adults in their lives respond to failure will determine if they run towards us or away from us.”  A big part of your teens’ development is the ability to make mistakes and learn from them and know that this process is just part of life. Parents make mistakes and learn from them too so don’t be afraid to model this behavior for your teens. It’s about taking ownership of the good, the great, and the not-so-pretty.

Keep being an imperfect human and do the best you can for your kids while you love them through their tweens and teen years. Parenting is a constant evolution and takes patience and time. Their future 30-year-old selves will thank you.

 

 

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Turn off those devices: Why you should listen with your eyes

Have you ever heard the same story twice in one day? I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Go-Giver with Bob Burg, and he was interviewing Motivational Keynote Speaker and Author Neen James. She proceeded to tell a story about how a five-year-old child can remind us how life really should work. Later, that very same day, as I attended the annual Rocky Mountain Project Management Symposium, I heard the story again when I sat in her session at the conference. I decided the repetition was a sign. I needed to pay attention.

Insight from a 5-year-old

Neen James was sitting with a next-door neighbor chatting over some coffee. Her neighbor’s 5-year-old son, Donovan, kept interrupting their conversation with a string of questions. Finally, he became so frustrated with Neen’s lack luster answers, he put Neen’s face in his hands and told her to, “listen with your eyes!”

Sometimes the greatest wisdom comes from a five year old. “To listen with our eyes” is to listen actively, which means focusing on the other person and what they have to say. We all want to be heard, and that means we also need to be active listeners.

Our reality

In today’s world, we are inundated with distractions from numerous devices. I’m not telling you anything new here. Your kids are the iGen, the generation growing up with devices.

When I’m speaking with my kids and they are on a device or playing video games, I know they aren’t hearing anything I’m saying. The same goes for my husband when we try to talk while he’s on his iPad. Bottom line is that dividing our attention between those we’re with and our little distraction pods is disrespectful.

It’s not just 5-year-olds and parents disgruntled by the lack of attention. In Dr. Jenny M, Twenge’s book iGen, she interviews a 13-year-old teen named Athena, who complains about the negative impact of friends who pay too much attention to their phones when they are hanging out with her. Dr. Twenge asks how it makes her feel “when you’re trying to talk to somebody face-to-face and they’re not looking at you?” (p. 298) Athena’s response says a lot:

It kind of hurts… It hurts. I know my parent’s generation didn’t do that. I could be trying to talk about something super important to me, and they won’t even be listening. (p. 289)

So, what can be done about devices?

Here is what we do in my house:  NO DEVICES WHEN IT’S TIME TO TALK…PERIOD.  When one of us has a question or wants to share, we put our devices down.  When it’s time to eat a meal at the table, devices are in another room.  With the distractions gone and eye contact made, let the conversation begin!

The Benefits!

What has been the payoff from implementing these practices? I know my husband and I are demonstrating and fundamental life skills along with modeling what active listening looks like. If I think about how am I going to get my kids ready for the world, it’s doing everything I can to develop and support good communications skills. Teach your kids to listen with their eyes and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your relationship. Here’s the thing though, it only works if we do it too.

The point of all this is that my husband and I want to provide a place where our kids can celebrate success and share when things aren’t going well. This is an ongoing challenge for all families. But the gateway to this connection is to take the advice of a 5-year-old and, “listen with your eyes!”

 

Hyperlinks:

The Go-Giver Podcast with Bob Burg https://thegogiver.com/2018/04/109-attention-revolution-neen-james/

PMI Symposium http://pmimilehi.org/content.php?page=Symposium

Listen with your eyes https://neenjames.com/pay-attention-listening/

IGen – https://www.amazon.com/iGen-Super-Connected-Rebellious-Happy-Adulthood/dp/1501151983/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524338626&sr=8-1&keywords=igen+twenge

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Stuck in the muck? Getting started is sometimes easier said than done.

A big question parents often ask themselves is, ‘why can’t my kid just get started?’ This query causes a lot of angst and frustration in many homes and classrooms. Unfortunately for some of your kids, getting started is hard and can be more complicated than we think. The challenge for us adults is not to pass judgment on our kids’ inability to get started and to assume they are being lazy or defiant. Instead, it’s our job to look past the behavior and figure out why they cannot start.

I remember when my youngest was in 4th or 5th grade and he was sitting at the kitchen table just staring at his work. I looked at him and wondered what was going on. He’s a good kid, I reminded myself. I knew he didn’t want to be spending hours upon hours on his homework. So, I came to learn task initiation was a struggle for him. He had the best of intentions but just couldn’t get started. So, I found resources to help — both books and amazing experts who offered me some great guidance.

 

Here are some ideas I learned that might help you, too:

Transitions from one task to another may be more difficult for certain kids. Be mindful about what they are transitioning from. For example, video games and YouTube can make the transition to homework oh so painful for all involved. Eliminate this pain by making YouTube or video games the reward for completing the homework.

Does your kid just stare at their computer when they have to write something? Is getting the words from their brain to the keyboard or pencil too big a gap to leap? If you see them struggling, a big clue is whether they can talk about the topic.  If so, you may need to use some tools like voice activation software, or you can simply type word for word what your kid says. Parents: no editing. Let your kids use their own words. As long as you do that, you’re not cheating. Eventually, the kids will be able to write on their own. It is important to meet your kid where they are so they can start to experience the wins of getting the work down.

Sometimes the task can seem so big, that your kid literally doesn’t know where to start. For instance, there are too many math problems on the page. Ask them how many would they like to see, and cover up the rest. Or just write one problem on a separate sheet of paper and have them do one at a time. Again, we are looking for a process that meets their current need so they can feel the success of completion.

Sometimes hearing about problems from the student’s perspective can   help you better understand the weight of their dilemma.  Listen to student Marcus Allen explain why getting started is harder than you think through this Understood.org video.

It’s hard to watch our kids struggle with getting started. Again, the challenge for us adults is that we have to step up and be willing to experiment, look past the behavior, and be consistent in our efforts. It can be hard to make these efforts, especially when fatigue and the daily grind take hold. Stop and remind yourself that you are training your kiddo for adulthood.

Meet your kids where they are and assume that your kid has the best of intentions and is just stuck. Your job is to reach out and help them learn how to move through the muck, until they have the skill to go around it themselves.

 

 

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Are Children Becoming Less Creative?

Sharing a recent article from the publication “ExchangeEveryDay” about creativity trends in US education. Interesting reading: why are the creativity scores of America’s youth falling?

“Kyung Hee Kim, Ph.D., an educational psychologist at the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, has spent the past decade poring over the creativity scores of more than 300,000 American K-12 students. The news is not good: ‘Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990,’ she says. Moreover, ‘creativity scores for kindergartners through third-graders decreased the most, and those from the fourth through sixth grades decreased by the next largest amount.'” So writes Carolina A. Miranda in a CNN blog post.

She explains, “The scores Kim is referring to are those generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking — the standard-bearer in assessing creativity in children since the 1960s. In fact, the results of the Torrance Tests are also better indicators of lifetime creative accomplishment than childhood IQ. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as ‘How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?’ Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat’s teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails — all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.”

Source: “Why we need to let kids be creative,” by Carolina A. Miranda, January 3, 2012, CNN.com

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Lessons from Bob Ross and The Importance of Positive Energy in Parenting

It’s funny where you can find parenting inspiration. My junior in high school came home one day last week and asked “who is Bob Ross?”  You know, the famous painter of happy little trees from the 80’s.  He had seen a trailer for the next Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynold’s that started with a spoof of his PBS show “The Joy of Painting”.  After watching the trailer ourselves (caution, may not be appropriate for all ages) and laughing a little harder than our son expected, we explained who the real Bob Ross was and had to show both of our boys a video of his actual show from the archives. We thought they’d last five, maybe ten minutes but to our surprise, they were mesmerized and watched the entire episode.

Positive Perspective

His soft spoken style and quirky humor had them smiling and amazed at how he could create a complete oil painting landscape from scratch in less than 30 minutes.  My husband and I had forgotten how full of positive energy and life lessons he was. After watching two more episodes as a family, we came away with some great quotes from Bob Ross to keep things in perspective:

  • “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy little accidents.”
  • “In painting, you have unlimited power. You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers. But when I get home, the only thing I have power over is the garbage.”
  • “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”
  • “It’s the imperfection that makes something beautiful, that’s what makes it different and unique from everything else.”

As parents, we can get caught up in the pressure of the daily grind and let our imaginations around our kids future get the better of us. Life is about the small things and the life lessons along the way.  These Ross’isms are a friendly reminder that it takes courage to step out of our comfort zone and just getting started.

What To Do With Feedback

A key theme from Ross is that we are not good at everything, and that’s ok.  He tells a story about how he studied under a master portrait painter for a year. Finally his portrait teacher pulled him aside and suggested he stick to landscapes.  Ross laughs about this and agreed with this feedback. Learning to take constructive feedback is a learned skill as it’s important we teach our kids what to do with that information. This feedback could have easily discouraged Ross or caused him to resent his teacher.  Instead he realized he needed to spend his time, energy, and focus on his passion which was landscapes.  He turned this focus into a fifteen million dollar business. In today’s world, it is more important than ever to teach your kids how to focus their attention, energy, and time on their talents and interests.

Finally, most people don’t realize that before pursuing his passion for painting, Ross was a sergeant in the Air Force whose job it was to yell and scream and order people around.  After leaving the Air Force, he decided he would never yell at anyone again.  Ross provided value and made a big impact with his show and business, all while speaking softly and having a sense of humor.  If there is a lot of yelling in your family, ask yourself how effective that has been.  Can we reduce the volume and develop a greater connection with our kids while achieving better results?

As Ross reminds us, the only things we have control over are ourselves and the garbage. If you are experiencing the normal frustrations of parenting, I highly recommend watching an episode or two of his show to gain a little perspective.  At the very least, his soft spoken style and words of wisdom will provide some momentary relief and a chuckle. Think of it as an alternative to meditation.

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11 NFL Lesson Ideas To Use This Season

Are you ready for some football? The NFL season kicks off this weekend. It should be fun!

With the Broncos being so popular, it’s hard to think of a school in Colorado that won’t have at least a few hundred students wearing the orange and blue on Fridays. Let’s hope they can have a good season, make the playoffs, and bring home another Lombardi trophy.

Football season is a really good teaching tool, too. There are ton of numbers involved. Great heroes (and anti-heroes) to read up on. And the history and geography of all the teams. Here are 11 easy class ideas to integrate football into the class for all students.  

Hope these make some good class connections! Enjoy the season.

Omaha!

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10 Effective Communication Tips For Teachers, Parents, and Students

The beginning of a school year is an exciting time, with a ton of activity. In addition to building goals, it’s also super important for setting clear, crisp communication guidelines. Purposeful communication makes the beginning of the school year so much easier for everyone involved. A smooth beginning might not guarantee perfection, but you can be sure that a mismanaged beginning is a recipe for dealing with behavioral issues and playing catch up.

August and September are also the months when it seems as if things are happening at 100 mph.  Communication is key throughout the year, so begin early. They can be huge time savers in the end.

Teacher Tip One: Teachers, mail a postcard home and then make a follow up phone call during the first week. Sending a postcard home addressed to students makes them feel welcome in their new class. It also eases anxiety. Sending a card with a personal touch on it, like a favorite sports team or a national park you might have visited during the summer, humanizes the experience as well. In your note, remind the student they are going to have a great year. When the first week of class ends, call the parents letting them know how great their child’s first week was. If this sounds like a lot of work, you are most likely to go to voicemail, based on personal experience. Leave an upbeat message. It will make a huge impression.

Teach Tip Two: Spend the first few weeks with at least one getting to know you activity per day, and be sure it involves oral or written communication. You want to build new relationships right away. You also want to develop a routine where students are comfortable sharing ideas in small groups. Bring the class back together and pull names out of a hat so one or two students can comment on how the activity worked. As always, give them the option to pass, ensuring shy students aren’t put on the spot.

Teacher Tip Three: As a culmination of the first few weeks, invite the principal into your class to firm up rules and expectations. Tell the students the principal is coming as an advocate and confidante. Principals are extremely busy people, so you will only need a few minutes of their time to make an impression with students. Getting students and administration some time together is a huge step in building trust that can come in extremely useful when there are disciplinary issues.

Teacher Tip Four: Have a welcome back party with your teaching team, and be sure to invite family along. Do this early, and as often as possible. Reinforce learning as a fun activity. You can even have themed parties, showcasing work. I used to love hosting international days that the class worked in with history units. We served great cuisine, had a bunch of fun, and reinforced all our learning goals.

Parent Tip One: Parents, write an email to the teacher asking how you can help make the year a good one. In your introductory email let them know that you are so glad that your son or daughter has such a dedicated teacher. Flattery always goes a long way, especially in an inbox. Teachers get dozens of emails a day, so be sure to establish a partnership that serves everyone’s best interest, including the teacher’s.

Parent Tip Two: Attend all the welcome back events you can, and be sure to casually establish a rapport with your children’s teachers. It’s fine to talk shop at welcome events. Likely, you’ll want to set up a formal meeting because teachers are limited by confidentiality in how much they can go into detail with a bunch of other people around. And don’t be afraid to ask for a conference early on. This is often the least busy time of year for teachers and so meeting them for a conference is a lot easier, especially if you pitch it as proactive session.

Parent Tip Three: Find out how involvement will look. An overly strong parent advocate can, potentially, work against the very thing the teacher is working on, like building autonomy. Communication by all parties is important. For example, some kids want to be dropped off at class all the way till high school. Some kids want autonomy by second grade. These are telling signals and can inform all parties on the best way to handle academic, social, and emotional intervention. This is one of the touchier areas, because we all want to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing is letting the child work an issue out on his or her own.

Student Tip One: Students, get a planner and a planner buddy who is more organized than you are. This is pretty self explanatory. If you are not organized, you’ll know it. You’re losing things. Missing deadlines. Or your planner make you feel like this. Some students are more meticulous than their teachers. Essentially, make sure the super organized can help the less organized. As a teacher, I’d choose a buddy to help me organize my busy desk, reinforcing their own organization.

Student Tip Two: Be proactive and communicate early with the teacher, letting them know what you’d like to get out of the school year. I’ve had students personally shake my hand after the first day of school. That made quite an impression. If that’s not so easy for you, send them an email, letting them know where you want to succeed. Or chocolate always works. Whatever way is easiest for you, being proactive with a teacher goes a very long way. Remember, teachers are human beings; they like getting nice things. And nothing’s nicer than a student who shows interest.

Student Tip Three: Join a club or, better yet, create one on your own. Chances are there are likeminded people out there who’d be thrilled with your idea. Find a cause. Draft a fantasy team. Build a Minecraft network. Volunteer to grade papers. Above all, get recognized for doing the right thing and for stepping up. School’s got enough social pressures to begin with, so why not come up with something that brings people together? It will definitely set you apart, and open up all kinds of opportunities to be engaged and engage others.

If you find these ideas are working for you personally, let us know! We’d love to hear from you. And thanks for considering The School Communications Agency for all your school communications needs.

 

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Helping Kids Get Organized

We have a guest post on our blog today from Roxanne Turner.  Roxanne is a Board Certified Life Coach with extensive training in ADHD and executive functioning, focusing on the process of getting things done. Today she writes about Organization: Helping kids learn how to organize.

Organization! By; Roxanne Turner
When I was little, my favorite thing about school was getting new supplies at the beginning of each year. I loved the new pens, folders, notebooks and getting to figure out how I was going to organize my stuff throughout the year. Each semester offered an opportunity to make changes.  Alas, I was in the minority.  To say most kids struggle with organization is an understatement.  It is a skill that must be learned and practiced.

Knowing their assignments, when they are due, and the resources needed to complete them is over half the battle to being successful in school.  Being organized is the key to that part of the puzzle.  Most kids know how to do the work, but struggle keeping track of everything or knowing where to start.  As parents, our role is to provide the support our kids need without doing the work for them.

So where do we start?  First, kids need to relate to the concept and understand what’s in it for them.  Initially, being organized takes time and effort so we need to reframe the concept so they understand the benefits:  Homework gets done faster, more free time for activities such as sports or video games, less frustration, etc.

Next, tap into how your student organizes things they are interested in such as music, video games, Apps, etc.   Organization comes more naturally when we are passionate about something so leverage that to draw parallels to school work and find tools that work for your student.  Have a conversation with your student to discover what they like about how they organize their things and what works for them.

With my son I gained some interesting insight when organizing his closet. First, I learned he had a strong aversion to hangers so we went out and bought a dresser. This worked much better for him but as he started to put his clothes away I stared in confusion as he put his underwear and socks in the bottom drawer, then his pants/shorts in the next drawer, and finally shirts in the top drawer. This was backwards from how I would have done it but he explained, “I put the clothes in as I get dressed, makes more sense to start from the bottom up.” Once he had the right tool (dresser), putting away and organizing his clothes in a way that made sense to him was no problem.  That information was useful when it came to organizing his school papers.

There are three different kinds of organizational styles: visual, spatial, and chronological.  Here are some clues to what your student’s style might be:

Visual Organizers:

  • Did you see my back pack?
  • When doing homework puts all the items out in front of them

Spatial:

  • Do you know where I put my backpack?
  • Clears off the area when doing work

Chronological:

  • Do you know when I last had my back pack?
  • Stacks homework in a certain order before or after completing an assignment

With a basic understanding of the style or combination of styles your student demonstrates, you can provide more effective solutions. Visual organizers like color coding and other visual cues. Spatial organizers need to have all supplies within reach when doing schoolwork, and a clean work area that “feels good” to them. The chronological organizer can remember sequential steps in some sort of order and keep stacks of paper on their desks that may appear messy.

There is no magic cure for the chronically disorganized. To begin to develop a system, it starts with questions like:  “What do you think about three ring binders?” “How about color coded folders, one color for each class?”  “Do you want a dedicated homework folder, one side for homework to work on and the other for homework to turn in?“

Once you have some input from your student regarding what they like and don’t like, now you get to experiment with different tools and work together to create that daily/weekly 5-10 minute routine to maintain their systems. If time is not being invested consistently, it makes it difficult to see what is and isn’t working. It takes time but stick with it. Small gradual changes at first translate to big changes over the long haul.

Through these conversations, your student will be providing their input and increasing their personal investment. Keep in mind your system may not work for them.  You can use your system as a starting point but if they say no to your ideas, that’s ok and will usually get them thinking about what might work for them.   When you head off to the store, have them take the lead. Don’t be discouraged if they grumble, mumble, and possibly roll their eyes at first. Just provide a friendly reminder about what’s in it for them. A good one to use is that it will get you off their back.

Finding the right solution for your student is an evolution as you and your student reflect on what’s working and what’s not.  The final step for you is to ensure repetition and consistency.  Studies show that it takes 66 to 264 repetitions (Dr. Phillippa Lally, psychology researcher at University College London ) to develop (good) habits.  Don’t expect to have a conversation, setup some tools and see your student become organized.  It will take constructive reminders and follow up (no yelling or accusations) to make it stick.  Be patient, they will get there.

 

Book reference: Organizing the Disorganized Child by Martin Kuschner, M.D. & Marcella Moran, M.A., L.M.H.C

Roxanne Turner, PmP, BCC (CCE Board Certified Coach)

Photo by Luke Palmer on Unsplash

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THREE IMPORTANT MOTIVATION IDEAS TO KEEP MOMENTUM DURING SUMMER

Teaching is the art of making students believe in themselves. Motivating students to believe is often at the heart of a student’s success. Show me a student who believes in themselves, and I will show you a student who is in charge of their learning.

Ultimately, when a student believes in themselves and finds success, they’ll be off and running.

Keeping that motivation alive during the summer months is a huge step in the right direction. You don’t want your son or daughter to experience the dreaded summer learning gap.

Here are some tips on how to keep motivation alive and flourishing in the second half of the summer. Following these will most definitely help students start their new school year with the momentum they need to succeed.

TIP 1: Embrace Their Uniqueness

Students learn differently, so they’re always motivated to learn in a style uniquely their own. One of the most important things you can do is to be sure students reach down deep to find their true voice, their true passion, and follow that in their learning.

Developing passions requires deep commitment on the part of the teacher and the student, and will only succeed if a truly trusting relationship is established.

With students home for a bit longer, you are the teacher. Build trust by embracing whatever uniqueness they carry. Build this partnership by setting realistic goals for the next year. With each goal, have your son or daughter develop a solution, and support that mission as often as possible.

Tip 2: Foster Their Abilities By Highlighting Success

Continually highlight successes to develop a relationship built on motivation. Even if they are buried, there’s a treasure in there – every student has their share of success stories so highlight successes early and often.

To truly motivate a student is to take a very important stance – everybody from the highest reader to the developing writer has talent.

Remember, students come in all shapes sizes, quite literally. Don’t be mistaken to think that there are easy students and difficult students. It doesn’t matter at what level a student learns. What matters is they feel successful, and the more they do, they more they’ll give you back.

Tip 3: Communicate Their Successes Around

Most importantly from a motivational perspective, success needs to be communicated. The biggest stakeholder in a student’s life is their parent or guardian, so to truly expand on motivational successes, keep those close to you and your child informed including: teachers, relatives, community stakeholders, and friends. It’s not bragging to highlight a student’s achievement. It’s just smart – the more people you can motivate who are involved in a student’s life, the more they will be motivated in their own.

Sharing success might not be that easy after a particularly frustrating day or week. In that case, why not ask the student to list the successful moments they have experienced? Chances are, you will see success in a new light. It’s a great teachable moment and a wonderful opportunity to build a key partnership because communication takes a team effort.

For more ideas, please reach out to us. We are with you for all your motivational needs. And, of course, your communications needs, too.

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