How to Improve Your Child’s Organisational Skills

Children who struggle with being organised often take a long time to find things that are needed or to complete their work, and is unaware of the things that are [...]

Children who struggle with being organised are often seen to have messy rooms and tables, disorganised backpacks and losing their homework and stationery is not an unusual occurrence. They take a long time to find things that are needed or to complete their work, and is unaware of the things that are needed for school or other activities. If your child is facing such difficulties, SPD’s occupational therapist, Eden Yeong, have some tips on what you can do to help improve your child’s organisational skills.

What are organisational skills?

Organisational skills are a set of techniques used by individuals to facilitate the efficiency of learning, problem solving, and task completion. It is defined broadly to include organisation of the following:

• Materials (e.g., materials needed for school, keeping own materials after use)

• Time (e.g., planning and scheduling homework time)

• Tasks (e.g., items needed for school project, keeping track of deadlines)

Why are organisational skills important?

Organisational skills are closely related to school performance. Children require these skills to sequence and make connections of what they hear or read. They utilise such skills to think through their sentence construction in order to convey their ideas effectively, and to take down organised notes that are essential for revision. Moreover, misplacing and forgetting materials, as well as failing to record assignments and their due dates, and not completing and submitting assignments on time, not only hinder academic performance, but they also lead to diminished confidence and engagement in school.

Additionally, conflicts with family members can arise from being disorganised at home. Parents also find it frustrating to constantly replace their children’s belongings after they have misplaced them or receiving calls from teachers regarding incomplete homework. Furthermore, forgetting and misplacing materials needed for games and sports can also adversely affect peer relations.

If your school-aged child is facing the following difficulties, here are some strategies that you can use.

1. Difficulty keeping desk clean and tidy

  • Discuss with your child and decide on the placement for each item.
  • Use labels in the form of pictures, colour codes, drawings, or words to categorise each drawer and desk compartment.
  • After organising the desk, take a photograph of it and place it near the desk.
  • Establish a routine for packing desk (e.g., pack up right after completion of homework and before playtime) and have your child ensure that the desk looks like what is being shown in the photograph.

2. Difficulty tracking homework and due dates as well as completing homework

  • Use a calendar to keep track of assessment and due dates, as well as after-school activities.
  • Get your child to practise writing down homework and upcoming assessment dates in his/her student handbook.
  • Establish a fixed routine for daily homework time and ensure that distractions are reduced during homework time.
  • Before getting your child to start with his/her homework, discuss the homework that has to be completed for the day, materials required and estimated time required for each homework, and if he/she will require any form of help.
  • Provide rewards for starting or ending homework on time and for completing them without reminders.

3. Difficulty packing and managing their school bag

  • Discuss and decide on a time to pack your child’s school bag daily (e.g., right after completion of homework or before bedtime).
  • Involve your child in the design of an organising system for his/her school bag. Use files with subject labels or a coloured folder system, or even separate files for different purposes (e.g., one for unfinished work and another for completed homework). Discuss on the usage of each bag compartment and the ways to help your child remember them (e.g., front zip for wallet, tissue and thermometer, with word labels placed at the inner portion of the compartment).
  • Create a checklist on the things to bring for school, with a fixed list of things that are needed daily (e.g., pencil case, water bottle, wallet, etc.) and things that would differ according to the subjects or events, by referring to the timetable and student handbook.


Bikic, A., Reichow, B., Mccauley, S. A., Ibrahim, K., & Sukhodolsky, D. G. (2017). Metaanalysis of organisational skills interventions for children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 52, 108-123. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2016.12.004

Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2009). Smart but scattered: The revolutionary “executive skills” approach to helping kids reach their potential. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Gee, L.(2017). Exploring an Organisation Skills Intervention for Improving Executive Functioning Skills within a Gifted Population: An Action Research Study. (Doctoral dissertation).

Hartford, D., & Hooper, S. R. (2013). Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders. Organisational Skills. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3

Power, T. J., Werba, B. E., Watkins, M. W., Angelucci, J. G., & Eiraldi, R. B. (2006). Patterns of parent-reported homework problems among ADHD-referred and nonreferred children. School Psychology Quarterly, 21(1), 13-33.