Some kids naturally know how to organize their stuff. However, while I was a classroom teacher, I noticed that most do not. Like any other valuable skill, keeping an ordered, tidy desk, whether at home or school, needs to be taught to a child. My experience with kids is that the neater their desks, the more focused and on-task they are in the classroom.
You may ask, "Is having a tidy desk a big deal?" My short answer is, "Yes."
Typically, the neater a child's desk, the smoother the transitions between directives and activity changes. A child's inability to locate a supply or assignment in their desk can lead to unnecessary frustration. It also contributes to distractions and lagging behind the pace of the class. When this occurs regularly, a child is not thriving in school. They are surviving.
All kids can learn how to take care of their school supplies. But, I'm writing this post for the kids who struggle with focusing at school, as this group often has a messy desk.
During a recent Growing Scholars session, 100% of my students commented that they have trouble focusing in school. However, when I probed deeper about why they had difficulty paying attention, I discovered what I'd already suspected; their desks contributed to the lack of concentration. While in class, some kids played with supplies not correctly stored in their pencil boxes, as others made confetti out of the edges of paper they tore into tiny pieces.
It is interesting to ponder: are their desks a mess because they can't focus, or do they lack attentiveness because their desks are a mess? Either way, often, they have random papers shoved into the back corners, and supplies have become toys and distractions instead of tools for learning. Folders were forever lost or damaged beyond use. Colorful sticky notes folded into Origami are plentiful, but a sharpened pencil is nowhere to be found.
Organizing supplies in a desk can become a routine habit that students manage independently when they learn a few organizational skills.
Here are tips for banning the clutter and chaos in desks to help kids teach kids to create a
space of order that contributes to a more focused, on-task experience at school.