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Prepare Kids for College…

For those who still have children (or even grandchildren) still at home or in school, the good news is if you teach your kids just one skill that will help them immensely when they are on their own, it’s to learn to get organized—to be organized – now.

Does teaching your kids to be organized really help them in life? To prepare kids for college?

It’s hard to imagine the feelings a parent has when sending their child off to college. There is a myriad of emotions – and questions – raging inside.

Is he or she ready? Who will wake them up in the morning? Iron their clothes? Are they safe? Will they make friends? What if they get sick? Who will take them to the doctor? Drive them home? Who will go pick them up if they get a flat tire?

It’s hard to watch your child or children leave the nest. It’s even harder when you are worried—wondering if you have done your job preparing them to be successful, independent, adults.

As with adults, when children get organized, they have control over their environment and a much easier time adapting to college or life on their own.

Here are some specific ways you can teach children to get organized – to be organized – now to help them later:

Kids can organize their spaces.

There are many spaces that “belong” to children and teens. Possibilities include their room, closets, bathroom, playroom, study space, and – for older kids – their cars.

The first thing you want to teach them is to get rid of clutter. Thus, have them go through and throw out any junk. This includes anything they haven’t played with or used in the last six months or so. For anything of value, they can put it aside to donate to the Salvation Army / Goodwill / Habitat for Humanity, etc.

The next step is finding a set place for all items that remain. Ideally, as much as possible should be put away, in drawers, cabinets, or storage bins. Furthermore, if they request specific organizers that they think of – or have seen in stores or online – do your best to accommodate if they can explain or demonstrate how they will use them.

Kids can organize their schoolwork—and even organize their life too!

It’s very important that kids – from a young age – learn to organize their own schoolwork too. On one hand, you may think you are helping them out by staying on top of this for them, but you are really not doing them any favors.

As soon as they can write, kids should have a school and life planner. Furthermore, in this life planner, they should record each assignment due in each class and their after school activities. Of course, you should be monitoring this information too, but try not to micromanage their process after you show them the basics.

Similarly, as they get older – middle school and beyond – also make them responsible for sharing this information. Furthermore, they should have their own email address (that you still have access to as well) and add their important events to a calendar and share that calendar with you and other important family members. For special events, they should be taught (and held responsible for) sending “invites” to family and friends.

Kids can learn to organize their finances

You may be thinking—what finances? Especially for younger kids who may not even get an allowance yet, this may seem like a stretch. However, there are things you can do to prepare them.

You know those check registers you get with your checks? Purchase or pick up a few extra of these. Give them to your kid(s) and assign “dollar amounts” to specific tasks or things they are supposed to do or even not supposed to do. For those that are good things – or activities they accomplish – have them “credit” their account in their ledger. If they do something wrong or fail to do something, have them “debit” their account in their ledger.

Similarly, for older kids, you can do this with their allowance instead of just handing them money. This will better prepare them for when they have to do this with their own money, on their own.

But most importantly, when kids are getting a substantial allowance, have a job, or are driving and the money they get from you for gas and entertainment has to be spread over a week, bi-weekly, or the month, teaching them to budget is crucial. There are many programs and apps that can help them do this on their phone.



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