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21 Easy Ways to Teach Students Organizational Skills

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

Organization comes easier to some kids than it does to others — some students in your class may naturally seem organized, while others may need a little practice and guidance to effectively get things done! The good news? Working to get your students organized from day one in the classroom will benefit you both and set everyone up for a successful school year.

Organization skills will help your kids in the classroom and at home too, making it easier for students to stay on top of homework, and keep their papers from spilling out of their cubbies and desks and swallowing the classroom hole!

Three Easy Steps to Teach Students Organizational Skills

The hardest part is getting started, so let’s do this! This three-step process is a great way to break down ‘being organized’ into easy-to-implement steps that your students need to keep in mind when they tackle any task:

  1. Get organized – Get ready for the lesson or task ahead. For example, for my math lesson, I need my math grid book, my pencil case, and my calculator.
  2. Stay focused – Work through the task. For example, what are strategies and ways that I can stay focused during this task?
  3. Finish up – Complete the task all the way to the end. For example, I need to get this worksheet completed to the best of my ability.

This process is a great method to teach your students at the beginning of the school year. And it’s equally as important to continually reinforce this process to your students until the year’s end.


Hacks and Resources to Teach Organizational Skills

If the three steps seem a bit too simplified, we hear you. It’s just a framework. Here are 21 simple resources, suggestions, and tips that can help your students along their journey of becoming more independent and organized!

(1) Use a visual schedule in the classroom to help students plan ahead.

Image of Visual Daily Schedule - Spanish/English

teaching resource

Visual Daily Schedule - Spanish/English

Over one hundred general activity cards to use as a visual schedule in your dual language classroom.

Teach Starter Publishing35 pagesGrades: K - 6
Image of Visual Daily Schedule and Equipment

teaching resource

Visual Daily Schedule and Equipment

Provide a visual schedule for specific students with this desk template.

Teach Starter Publishing5 pagesGrades: K - 6
Image of Classroom Schedule Cards

teaching resource

Classroom Schedule Cards

Keep your students on track by choosing from 60 editable schedule cards to display in your classroom.

Teach Starter Publishing30 pagesGrades: K - 6

(2) Use morning checklists and end-of-day checklists of set tasks that need to be done daily.

(3) Attach a timetable of important information such as library days, PE days, etc. with a keyring to each student’s school bag.

(4) Use graphic organizers in the classroom to get your students’ thoughts organized.

(5) Color code student school books with colored dots to make it easier for them to find the book they need for a particular lesson.

(6) Encourage children to always keep their working space clean and tidy.

(7) Set up a classroom job system for your class — a simple way to teach organization skills through the responsibility of jobs in the classroom.

classroom job chart

(8) Set up routines in the classroom so that your students learn what to expect throughout the school day.

(9) Implement bookwork expectations in your class, particularly for the older students.

Image of Neat Book Work Posters

teaching resource

Neat Book Work Posters

A set of six posters to display in your classroom, with rules on how to present neat book work.

Teach Starter Publishing6 pagesGrades: 1 - 5

(10) Declutter the learning space. It’s much easier for children to be more organized with fewer choices. Only allow them to have the items they need for each lesson out on their desk.

(11) Break larger tasks down into smaller more achievable tasks so that your students can get organized for each little task rather than a larger task which may be overwhelming.

(12) Use social stories or role-play different classroom routines or tasks to remind students about staying organized.

Image of Social Stories - Waiting for My Turn To Talk

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Social Stories - Waiting for My Turn To Talk

A social story to develop strategies when waiting for the appropriate time to talk.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: K - 7
Image of Social Stories - Activity Cards

teaching resource

Social Stories - Activity Cards

16 activity cards to use in your classroom when developing social skills.

Teach Starter Publishing4 pagesGrades: 1 - 3

(13) Provide clear timeframes for each task. This can help your children stay focused and increase motivation too!

(14) Encourage and support your students to become independent learners in the classroom.

(15) Set weekly goals for the class that focus on organization in the classroom as a whole class.

(16) Positively reinforce when a student shows great organization – such as getting all supplies out ready to go without being asked. Other students will then want to copy this behavior.

(17) Set up reward systems with a specific focus on organizational skills.

Image of Desk Fairy Award

teaching resource

Desk Fairy Award

Use a teacher-created resource to motivate students to keep their desks clean. Reward students with a desk fairy award!

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: PK - 2
Image of Virtual Reward Chart – Marble Jar

teaching resource

Virtual Reward Chart – Marble Jar

Motivate your students with this interactive, virtual reward chart.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: K - 5
Image of 5 Steps to Using Classroom Reward Systems in a Meaningful Way

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5 Steps to Using Classroom Reward Systems in a Meaningful Way

Should you set up an extrinsic classroom reward system? Or, should you be ditching prizes and telling students that the greatest reward is their new knowledge/new skill/being a good person? This blog post will make the answer clear!

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(18) Set up a whole class monthly calendar or even individual desk calendars. Write down important events, due dates of larger tasks, school breaks, gym days, music lessons days, etc. Encourage children to also write other important events for them such as birthdays or sporting events on weekends.

Monthly Calendar templates

(19) Minimize as much distraction as possible to help students stay focused to complete their tasks. Think of desk arrangements and classroom displays. Are all the displays helping the students to learn? Or can some come down so that the focus is only on what they need to complete the task?

(20) For children who are ready, start to provide them with more than one direction. Following a set of directions is a crucial organizational skill.

(21) Provide children with a chill-out pass. This is a pass they can use when they are feeling distracted or like they need a bit of a mental break in order to remain focused to complete a task. It also encourages students to take responsibility for their own emotions and actions.

We’d love to hear what you do to support and foster independent, organized students in your class!
Share in the comments section of this blog so we can all share our ideas.

Banner image via shutterstock/rawpixel.com

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