Friday, June 10, 2011

Keeping Things in Order

Let's face it, staying organized is tough for children and adults.  Whether you are managing your family or a classroom, a few simple tricks can help everyone keep things in order.  Here is an idea to help your child keep his or her room in good shape.

As in all primary and elementary Montessori classrooms, the lessons are lined up on shelves.  They are organized from left to right (the direction in which we read) and from top to bottom.  The order begins with the simplest and most concrete lessons and continues on to the more abstract, challenging lessons.

In my classroom there are 20 different shelf units.  Once organized, I take a photo of each shelf and tape it to the top of the shelf.  Each child in my class is responsible for dusting, straightening and keeping one shelf in order for the entire year.  The photo on the top of the shelf is a visual to help that child keep the shelf organized.  This is a trick you can use at home. 

Take photos of the child's room and storage areas.  Bookshelves, closets, toy boxes, and even each dresser drawers can be photographed.  To clean the shelf, I have students start at the top.  They take everything off the top shelf and line it up in the same order as the photo on the floor.  They use a clorox wipe to clean off the shelf and each item.  Then they put the items back on the shelf in the proper sequence.  Then move to the next shelf down until the whole unit is complete.

When first starting out, children may need assitance until getting the hang of it.  Children as young as 5 are capable of this activity.  Children are part of a family and everyone in the family helps.  In my classroom children are part of a community and everyone in the community helps.

When parents come to visit the classroom their children show them different lessons they know and work they have completed.  I have often heard a child proudly tell a parent, "This is my shelf!  I am in charge of keeping it clean."

More tips on organization will be in further posts.  Give your children the tools to independently take care of the world around them.

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