Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Different Paths to Organization

More than a decade ago, my sister introduced me to a show on HGTV called Mission: Organization. On this show, professional organizers worked with families to bring order to chaos. The best organizers not only restored order, but also helped the families develop systems that continued to work even after the professional was gone. Best of all, these pros never made the homeowners feel as though there was something wrong with them because their living space looked (and perhaps was) disorganized.

Every time I watched the show, I felt the urge to go organize something in my own home. Bitten by the organization bug, I moved beyond HGTV and started reading books and I began to wonder about my students who struggled with organization. What if someone taught them now, while they were still in elementary school, that they weren’t inherently flawed just because organization didn’t come naturally? Better yet, what if someone helped them to assess the skills they already possessed so that they could learn to view them as the basis of a personalized organizational system?

My experience with kids had made it clear to me that they needed something else. Something personalized. Something with a sense of humor. Something fun.

We started talking about styles with crazy names and playing with different organizers -- things besides binders and pocket folders. We identified personal and organizational styles, experimented with containers and organizational tools and shared successes. Simply switching from one tool to another brought everything into focus for a few of my students. The transformation was not only amazing, but energizing. My students were getting excited – about organization! – and developing confidence in their ability to get themselves together. 

When I found this video on The Smead Organomics Facebook page, I was reminded of these lessons, and each child's need to organize in his or her own way. Some kids are traditional organizers and will be just fine -- many will even thrive -- with binders and pocket folders. Others will look a mess when handed these tools, but when given the opportunity to use something else, their world will come into focus, and their papers will follow.

I'm disappointed that Smead didn't feature any boys in this video. The products featured in this clip -- especially accordion folders -- have proven very popular with boys as well as girls, and when they are available in a colors outside the realm of pastels, they make great alternatives to binders -- for both genders.

As you tackle those back-to-school purchases, help your child consider his (or her) options. If traditional tools aren't required, explore a few different choices, especially if your child has struggled with disorganization. Sometimes the right tool is the difference between disorganized futility and organized confidence. And please -- share your stories of success (or frustration) by commenting below.

Happy shopping!

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