What Kind of Organizer is Your Child?

Remember when your mom insisted on using flash cards to study and they didn’t work for you? Or do you recall how your father made you leave your house keys in the bowl in the kitchen table because you kept losing them? This method may have worked for a day or two, but after that, you were back to misplacing the house keys. Now that you’re grown with children of your own, do you find that you are repeating history by showing your child the same organizing techniques that work for you but not necessarily for them?

Everyone’s brain works differently and accesses information differently too. In Liz Franklin’s, How to Get Organized Without Resorting to Arson, “access styles” are explored and used to explain how people retrieve information. Taking into account different learning styles of children and these “access styles”, Dr. Martin Kutscher and I realized that people generally organize in three styles:

  1. Visual,
  2. Comfy/Spatial, and
  3. Sequential/Chronological.

Here’s a better look at these three styles.

The Visual Organizer
  • Think of missing items as to where they last saw the item.
  • All their items in front of them so they can see them.
  • Have a hard time finding items they cannot see.
  • Respond to color, pictures, and other visual cues
  • Feel disorganized when their work area is visually overloaded.
The Comfy/Spatial Organizer
  • Think of missing items as to where they last used the item.
  • When doing schoolwork, need to have all supplies within reach.
  • Need to have their work area cleaned off.
  • Work area has to “feel good”.
  • Children will like dance, music, and drama.
  • Sensitive to self and how others are feeling.
  • Feel disorganized when their work area is a mess.
The Sequential/ Chronological Organizer
  • Can remember sequential steps in some sort of personal order.
  • Access information chronologically.
  • Remember dates, time of events, and order of events.
  • Keep stacks of paper on their desks.
  • Memorize best through repetition.
  • Feel frazzled when their work area is not in “order.”

You may be looking at the lists of characteristics and saying ,”Is it possible that my child has two organizing styles?”. The answer is YES, your child could have the characteristics of two styles. The most common of the dual style is the Visual/Comfy/Spatial Organizer. These children are usually sensitive to others, like very colorful puzzles, and have to “feel good” about their work area.

Once you determine your child’s organizing style, you can use techniques and strategies for a particular style, to organize your child. Items for school, such as Case-it binders for Comfy/Spatial Organizers or single binders for each subject for Visual Organizers, can be used by children with particular organizing styles to make them more organized at school. Specific strategies to an Organizing Style should not only help your child become more organized but ultimately make your child more successful at school and at home.

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Marcella Moran, MA, LMHC About Marcella Moran, MA, LMHC

The Kid Organizer