Occupational Therapy

Organisational Skills

Organising ourselves is a skill many take for granted but for some children this can be challenging, causing frustration, and confusion and can have an impact on their self-esteem.

A child who struggles and does not get the support and understanding to practice and put in place strategies can lead to difficulties at school, with their friends and in day to day life.

Tasks such as organising your school bag so you have everything ready for all your classes the next day, or remembering when to hand in your homework can be tricky. By recognising these difficulties, and putting in place strategies and structures, your child can be supported to keep on task and become more independent.

Dive Deeper

Recognising Organisational Difficulties

  • Does your child understand and work to time frames?
  • Have they got all they need for school or do they regularly forget things?
  • Are they able to start a task or do they need lots of prompts and reminders?
  • Are they easily distracted?
  • Do they lose things a lot?
  • Find it difficult to follow logical patterns?

What Can Help Improve Organisation?

At Home

  • Try and keep regular routines. Learning takes time so doing the same tasks often will help your child remember and organise.
  • Break down big tasks into smaller parts and help them prioritise things which need to be done first
  • Ask your child to repeat instructions back to you
  • Try working backwards – if  your child is struggling to start a task, start at the end and do the steps backwards.
  • Work together and talk about the stages of the task, for example, cook together. This is a great task to teach the following stages. Start with making the list, go shopping and then follow the step-by-step cooking instructions
  • Use a whiteboard or chalkboard to write a diary/notes to remember
  • Try organising their bedrooms using coloured boxes/containers. Let them help and choose a place for their different items
  • Try giving chores which require sorting and ordering. For example, grocery shopping, sorting out holiday pictures into an album, organising the airing cupboard and group items, emptying the dishwasher or putting items away in the correct places.

At School

  • Your child may need written instructions to help remind them – try to bullet point a list or just word prompts or a picture. This could be printed out and kept in their pencil case or pocket to refer to
  • Cue cards can be used to break down the sequence of activities. For example clear the desk, collect equipment needed, put the date at the top of the page
  • Visual timetables
  • Colour coordination of timetable and school books
  • Transparent purses and pencil cases let them see the contents easily
  • Ensure they finish one task before starting another
  • Your child may find attending homework clubs useful.

Who Can Help?

Children's Occupational Therapists work with children from birth to 18 (or 19 if attending Complex Need schools). If your child or young person is under the Occupational Therapy teams, you can speak to them about any questions you may have.

If you think your child requires specialist support, please speak to their GP.

If you have any questions about your child or young person's general health or development, you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

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