Young children think differently from adults and, when very young, still have not learned yet how to ascribe value to material objects.
This, coupled with other factors, makes it very easy for children to keep track of personal belongings – especially the numerous school supplies with which parents often send them to school!
However, there are some things you can do to help teach young children about the value of personal belongings as well as about responsible ownership.
They are valuable life lessons, and hopefully will keep you from spending too much on school supplies down the line!
Start with Organization: Involve Your Child in Packing and Preparing
It’s challenging to teach young children about the importance of organization and responsibility, but starting in elementary school is not too soon!
Don’t just pack up your child’s things for him or her. Involve the child in the process. Explain to him or her what the backpack is for, why we need pens and pencils for writing, and folders to keep track of our papers, and so on and so forth.
Little minds are like sponges, and while they can become easily distracted, the number of school supplies involved in packing can be as interesting as it is overwhelming.
Plus, by involving them in the process of preparing for school, you’ll help impress the value of organization and the importance of ownership.
Establishing routines is a good way to instill muscle memory and cement long-term memory.
Every day, either at night or in the morning before school, involve your child in packing and preparing. Even if it’s something as simple as handing your child a lunchbox or water bottle and instructing him or her on which pocket to place it in (be consistent every time) it can help.
Routines, though they’re not always exciting, are remarkably effective at ensuring consistency in processes.
Create a Checklist
Creating a checklist is another highly effective way to keep track of everything your child needs to bring to school and can support a routine.
Checklists don’t need to be boring, either! You can create a colorful checklist and place it in one of your child’s folders and send it off to school. That way, they can reference them throughout the day, if needed.
Even if not, you can use a checklist in the morning or at night as part of the routine of getting prepared and staying organized.
Label Everything! Use Personalized Labels for School Supplies
This is an important tip that will support all of your other efforts: use personalized labels for school supplies on anything and everything.
High-quality personalized labels for school supplies, such as those sold by Sticky Monkey Labels (StickyMonkeyLabels.com) adhere to a variety of surfaces, are extremely durable, and come in packs with labels that are perfect for notebooks, folders, pencil cases, lunch boxes, water bottles, and so much more.
Personalized labels will help you (and your child) tell at a glance what belongs to whom, and even if something does get lost, at the very least, school supply labels will help with recovery.
Ask Them Questions or Remind Them
Finally, it’s important to remind your children to keep track of their belongings.
During your process of preparing for the day, ask specific, targeted, questions about where certain supplies are, or if they remembered to pack a specific item.
Also, double-checking everything before sending them out the door is helpful, too. “Did you remember…?” followed by a specific item will prompt them to double-check and give you peace of mind that they are following routines, even if you aren’t there all the time.
Lessons That Last
From establishing routines and creating checklists to support your process with personalized labels for school supplies, these tips will help your children develop personal responsibility and adopt an understanding of the importance of value – lessons that will not only be valuable this school year and next but for life.