As the new school year approaches, parents are doing frantic race to complete all of the to-do and shopping lists. But are they overlooking an important issue concerning their child and building time management and problem solving habits? We asked our friend Alexandra Berube at Boston Tutoring Services to share some of her insight on the topic.
Many of us know adults who live in a constant state of clutter and disorganization. They are always late, they don’t know where anything belongs, and they feel regular anxiety about how to keep track of the details of their lives. There are many pieces that form the skill of organization. Three of these are time management, physical organization of belongings, and project management (the ability to break down larger tasks into manageable pieces). Our adult lives are pulled in so many directions, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed if we don’t feel like we’re in control of our time and our space.
These skills need to be developed early in life. Many children I have worked with struggle with managing their emotions throughout the day, because they don’t feel like they have enough control over their lives. They are told where to go, when to be there, and what to do, and they don’t have much ownership over their day. At the same time, as they are being told what to do, they aren’t being taught processes to manage this on their own.
Children need to be instructed on how to form a calendar for themselves, even if it’s at a very basic level. A parent can put up a white board for their child that shows them when they will have lunch, play time, dinner, etc. Then parents can help their children to guide themselves from task to task, rather than telling them what to do every step of the way. Similarly, children need to be taught how to organize their belongings. But parents shouldn’t just tell their children where everything goes, and they definitely shouldn’t be cleaning up after them all the time. Parents need to talk with their children about where they think their belongings should go, and help their children develop patterns of organizational strategies for what’s most efficient, to give them ownership over their own space and their own needs. Lastly, children need to be taught how to break up larger tasks into manageable pieces. Children, like adults, often get overwhelmed by large projects, and parents need to discuss how to start working at a project piece by piece, so it no longer appears to be insurmountable.
These skills are vital for later adulthood, because if children are going to be successful, they’re not going to have someone guiding them every step of the way throughout their lives. They will need to gain ownership over how they best want to manage their time, how they feel they want to organize their belongings most efficiently, and how they visualize breaking down a task in manageable ways. Without learning these skills, people feel a lack of control over their own lives. When we don’t feel like we have control over our time and our space, we start to make excuses for ourselves. We tell our friends, “Oh, I’m always late,” and we laugh, but we’re not very happy about our lack of time management. We want to feel in control. The dearth of these organizational skills does affect us, and weakens our ability to process and manage daily life, but it’s never too late to learn.
Alexandra Berube started Boston Tutoring Services, LLC., in January, 2010. Personal attention and individualized instruction are the cornerstone of Boston Tutoring Services, and Alexandra seeks to guide and fully support every family through the process of working with her tutors. As a former teacher herself, with an M.Ed. from Lesley University, she believes that having a personal connection with parents is crucial to a child’s success, and understanding the value of an individualized approach makes all the difference