Organizing a Child's Room
We are not born with organizational skills; it is something that you learn. With your support as a parent, your child's room should be a training ground for learning to be reasonably organized. Don't expect the children to be organized in their rooms if the rest of the house is a shambles -- there is no double standard. Lead by example. Check your anger at the door and work calmly with your child in their room.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Most toddlers and preschoolers enjoy matching games. That is what organization is. You can use open containers; color coding -- red for blocks, blue for cars and greens for dinosaurs.
Constantly assess which toys, books and clothing your child is currently using or likely to start using within six months. Unused and outgrown items have to leave the room. Work with your child to help them creatively label their own drawers and bins. They can make their own drawings as labels. Another idea is to take a picture of them with a toy and place the photo on the toy box where it belongs.
Keep your child's size in mind. Store their favorite toys and books low where they can take them and put them back. Put "look at toys" and toys or art kits that require adult supervision up high where they have to be asked for.
You can make clean up a lot more fun by playing the timer game. The timer game pits the clean up time against the clock instead of against the clutter. Set a timer for a few minutes (for however long you think your children can sustain their energy). Have a little reward for them if they finish by the time the timer goes off.
Encourage your child's creativity, but let them know that clean up is part of the game. Some families teach children to put one item back before they can take out a new toy or book. Others find that setting a clean up time every evening does the trick because their children might build extravagant constructions using wood blocks, highway sets and the cars all at once.
Drawer bins are great for your children and a simple system to use. A child can take out a drawer and bring it to where they are playing, and then replace the drawer when they are finished. Each drawer can be labeled with what is inside.
Avoid big toy boxes because although they are a great catch-all, they are impractical if your child dumps everything out to find the teeny-tiny toys that have sifted to the bottom.
Divided storage containers are great for storing game pieces such as checker pieces, Chinese checker pieces, etc. Small individual containers are idea for storing crayons, colored markers and pencils.
Once your children start school, reams of paper will be coming into the house. This is a good time to teach children about paper management. Help them to sort papers they should keep (best writing, papers they will need for a test, etc.) and encourage them to recycle the rest. Give them a drawer or a desktop holder for hanging files.You could also make folders for special interests such as cartoons, stickers and art projects At the end of each school year, go through the files and reassess what is important and what is not. Eventually you could get a filing cabinet which you can keep in their room to store awards and certificates, report cards, pictures, school work and cards as they get older.
It always gets a little harder to teach teenagers about organization because they want to assert their independence. You might want to take a step back and let your kids live with a little disorder so they learn it is their responsibility to maintain their room. But don't let them off the hook completely; adolescents should be responsible for more complex organizing jobs like cleaning out their closets.
Being organized will help them manage their schoolwork and items they need for other activities, not to mention save them a lot of time and frustration. If your teen is getting homework done, remembering items they need each day and functioning well, then don't interfere, even if the room doesn't look the way you would like it to. They obviously have a system that is working for them, and that is what really counts.
What Should Be in Every Child's Room?
Every child should have a hamper in their room for laundry. Older children may benefit from a divided hamper that lets them sort out whites and colors. Make lobbing the laundry into the hamper fun for younger children with a hamper shaped like a wide mouthed animal or even by installing a small basketball net over the hamper.
Hooks are also great. Hang them at a height your child can reach for backpacks, coats, hats, scarves and anything else. You should put these hooks behind closet doors to maximize space.
Also, every child's room needs open floor space, so choose your storage wisely. Whether they are toddlers or teens, the floor's a place to stretch out and do your thing.