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How to Teach Organizational Skills

Introduction: What is organizational skills?

Organization refers to the ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of materials or information. “Why are you so messy, always lose things, can’t find things” – do these questions sound familiar coming from you as a parent or teacher? Individuals with special needs may appear like they do not value tidiness, but the root of the issue is actually their inability to learn to keep track of things. Fortunately, skills to keep organized can be learned and enhanced by promoting good habits.

The importance of organizational skills

● To exercise mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember, and juggle multiple tasks

(Organizational skills are part of the executive functions of the brain)

● To improve logical thinking and reasoning skills

(If I see a toy on the floor during study time, what can I do?)

● To keep things and places neat and tidy

● To reduce chances of misplacing or losing items

● To teach responsibility over personal belongings and other items

Initial Stage: Introducing Categories and Organization

(Classroom Activity) Hop & Sort Game

Objective: During the initial stage, the focus is on identifying and sorting the items according to categories.

Activity Description

  1. A series of hoops are placed in a way that one path diverts into three paths

  2. At the starting point, a container with random classroom items is placed

  3. At the end of the each three paths, a category pictorial card is placed, along with an empty container

Activity steps 1. Students collect a random item from Start Point 2. Students jump through the hoops and stop at the junction and decide which direction to jump

3. Students identify the category of the random item and jump in the correct direction 4. Students place the item into the correct container

Progressing Stage:

Grouping and Familiarizing with Items of the same Categories

(Table Task) List & Label Activity


● To learn to recognize names of items from different categories

● To familiarize with the different categories through hands-on activity

● To teach child that every item has a special ‘home’ in the classroom

Activity Description: In this stage students will refer to a list prepared by the teacher, then students will label the items and storage places according to the colour code. For example, a Jigsaw puzzle is green coded in the list, thus the student has to put a green sticker onto the jigsaw puzzle box.


  1. Students refer to a list

  2. Students stick colour coded stickers on the given items & at the storage places

  3. Teacher demonstrates process of returning items to their storage places or “homes”

(This activity is shown in the 2nd video titled "List & Label, Items Go Home!")

Application Stage: Daily life scenarios

(Real Scenario) Items, Go Home!


● To practice the learned skills in real scenarios

● To simulate natural opportunities to apply what the students have learned

● To promote independence of the skills learned

Activity Description

Teacher would remind students about the tidy up process before sessions. When teacher announces that it is tidy up time, teacher will observe the students and prompt if necessary.


  1. Teacher place visual reminders at obvious places

  2. Pre-brief students at the start of the day

  3. Announce “Tidy Up Time”, and observe the students (can sing “Clean Up Song”)

  4. Use visual, gestural, verbal, or physical prompt if necessary

  5. Remove colour coded stickers when students are independent

The Takeaway

Once the child is familiar with the basic concept of organization, this concept can be generalized and implemented in different settings, in different scales, and in sorting sub-categories.


Classroom, School, Home, and others


(Small) Items that belong to a pencil box. (Big) Items that belong to the Classroom, Play Area, Gym Room, etc.


Eg: Sorting toys into transport, animals, figurines, etc.

Thus, organizational skills can be taught, practiced, and applied in everyday life. Not only does the child unlock new skills, it also gives teachers or parents the joy of having a neat and tidy place. When teaching a new skill such as this, consistency among guardians, school and home is important. The best way to encourage and promote organizational skills is for us, guardians to be consistent, and to lead by example. Model and involve the child in your own tidy up routines.

“Tell me and i forget, teach me and i remember, involve me and i learn” ~Benjamin Franklin~

Have a go at it with your children or students!

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