Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let's Get Organized!

This is a display in my home
office.  Everthing I need is within my
reach and organized.
In my next life, I am going to come back as a professional organizer!  I love it and can't get enough of it!  This talent has come in handy in both my personal and professional life, especially in my experience working in home care for early intervention.  Having worked in early intervention for much of my career, I became adept at teaching families how to incorporate developmental stimulation throughout the day in their child's natural routine.  In order to maximize communication into routines, one of the first things many caregivers need to do is get organized!  Much of the "work" we do with young children is play-based, and the best way to get a meaningful experience from play is to set up opportunities for your child to communicate as much as possible throughout the day.  The first thing we do is look at all the toys and determine which toys are still developmentally appropriate and recycle those that are no longer conducive to developmental stimulation.  We also throw away any broken toys or those with missing parts or pieces.  Once all the appropriate toys are sorted out, I typically recommend either positioning toys within view, but out of reach or packing away some toys to rotate out later with current ones.  This encourages your child to make his or her needs known to you about desired objects for play.  If all preferred toys are within reach, then you just closed a few doors for communication.  Packing away some toys encourages the child to play with one toy for more meaningful and longer periods of time, which also works on increasing attention to tasks.  Still, another great perk is when your child says,  "ba," you have a better chance of figuring out that he or she wants to play with a "barn" and not the "Barbie," "Barney doll," or "blocks" because those are packed away for a later time.  When you do take those blocks back out and pack up the barn, it will be like the blocks are brand new again, which is just another benefit to packing away some toys.

Found these stackable bins at Dollar
Tree.  Makes life easier on my son
when he creates his masterpiece.
Not only are there benefits to getting organized yourself, but also you can use the opportunity to teach organization as a developmental skill for older children.  For toddlers, consider using clear, plastic bins or wicker baskets with a picture of the toy group attached to the outside to encourage categorizing and sorting of toys or matching pictures to objects.  These activities in particular encourage language development and comprehension skills.  Sorting and categorizing teach your child to group and store vocabulary for later word retrieval, and matching pictures to objects teaches picture representation for three dimensional objects.  At the end of the day, it will take time to sort, pack, remove, and organize the toys in your home, but you will soon reap the benefits for all your hard work!

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