My child can’t seem to find their stuff, what should I do?

Finding stuff when things aren’t organized can be a serious problem. I can speak from personal experience! After a long day’s work, who wants to take the time to put everything away? I just want to sit down and relax! If I am feeling that way, then my own children probably are feeling that way!

To be honest, my own children are all grown up and are either at college or have their own homes. But, having experienced this struggle with organization, both personally and with my own children, I know how frustrating this can be! So, let’s be honest with ourselves. Even the most organized child, adult, or family can always use some solid advice, or reminders on some best practices when it comes to keeping ourselves organized.

If we are organized, we should be able to find what we need. Right? As I pondered this idea of “good advice,” I decided to check out some of the experts in the field and see if I agreed with their advice.

But, before I did the checking, I had my own ideas. Here is my personal advice. We can compare my ideas to the real experts!

1.) Put things back where you found them. (That would make my husband very happy!)

2.) Organize things the night before so you aren’t rushed the next day.

3.) Keep a calendar updated (and check it often).

4.) Make lists of things you need to do, or use a planner and record your homework and cross it off as you finish it up. (You can even do a digital list, and check it off as you go.)

5.) Get rid of things you aren’t using or store them so you can find the things that you need.

6.) Use some sort of organizational system in your workspace. For students, it could be the idea of keeping your things in folders or a box so you know where to look for them. For adults, it could be a filing system of some sort. Even keeping your digital files organized is very important!

7.) Have a system or a routine in place for your mornings and evening so you don’t get bogged down and forget to do the mundane things that require attention on a daily basis.

Okay, those are my top things I feel that are important to keep things moving in a positive way. Now here is the advice from the experts.

From: they emphasize a few things for youngsters. Checklists, organizers, calendars, and routines are all mentioned in their article. But, they also emphasize using breaking tasks into chunks. That is a good idea to remember. I actually do that with my students in my classroom, I guess I just do it so automatically that I forgot to mention it as a strategy.

The same author mentions organizational strategies for grade schoolers. They also mention breaking tasks into smaller parts. Since this is mentioned again, that may be good advice for all of us. They mention using checklists. But what I found very interesting is that they talk about “wants and needs.” That is a big one for those grade school kiddos. Some things seem very important to grade schoolers that aren’t very important to adults. Teaching our kiddos about the difference between what a want and what a need is supports their decision-making skills. Helping them see how they have a choice and how that choice has outcomes is vital to success not only in school, but in life.

The article also recommends categorizing things they use or play with so they know what things are and they can place them in their appropriate spot.

They also emphasis keeping a family calendar and consulting it as they go about their day.

I found another article at: that discussed some things that I didn’t mention. It listed important strategies of having a work and study space for your child. I agree, this is very important. If the child is sitting on the couch trying to do his or her homework and the family is watching television or gaming in front of them, the student will clearly be distracted. I whole-heartedly agree with this! Find a quiet spot so you can concentrate.

This article also mentioned time management. Another very important point. I would agree with working within a time frame. I always try to have my students stay aware of the time. Typically I will tell them the amount of time we plan to work on something, and then do a check-in about halfway through so they know where they are at within that time frame. If you are in working in your home, you can always use a timer on the microwave or oven and set a time for 10-15 minutes and break things into small chunks. This should help support your child with their time management skills.

They titled the next section in this article as “school supplies.” As I read this section, I read that the skill of keeping folders and notebooks labeled is important so the students know the categories they belong to. Then the student can file their homework in the right spot. The use of colored folders for work that is due and work to be worked on, may be a useful strategy for some students.

The next step was to take notes. Notes in grade school can be anything from a picture or sketch to remember what you learned about to taking full notes using an outline. All of those skills most likely need support from a teacher or tutor so they know how to do the skill and can utilize it in a successful manner.

I am certain that there are any number of organizational strategies that you, your child, or your family can implement. I think that you need to decide what it is that you need to do to get organized. I also know that no one can stay organized all of the time. But, if you can choose one or two things that you can do routinely, your life may be less hectic. I think your child will thank you later on when they see these strategies working for them. You may want to use them yourself. I wish you the best of luck as you work to organize your child, yourself, or your family.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! It would be great to hear from you! Happy organizing.

For more information about Sheryl, see

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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