Why being organized is hard for some children

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Why being organized is hard for some children

Disorganization is a genuine learning disability. There's simply a brain that simply does not have natural spatial abilities and be able to have organizational sequential abilities that allow them to come up with systems that help them be organized. Many of us that are organized think that these are just intuitive things that all people know. It's really important for your child to have things like checklists. A checklist by the front door that tells them what things they are supposed to take to school, a checklist in their backpack, what things are they supposed to bring to school and home, checklists of what you need to do at night and what to do in the morning. Time spent helping your child figure out the best place for toys and for clothing to go in a room, and you are not something you are going to do once. I still have an adult daughter who I still help organize her kitchen every time she moves. She simply does not have the idea of where a pan would go in the kitchen. It does not come naturally to her. We laugh about it now, but many parents engage in struggle after struggle. They see it as oppositional and lazy behavior. The same way you have a child that has a disability in the area of reading or a disability in the area of math. Organization skills need to be taught patiently and again and again as each new developmental challenge comes along.

View Carolyn McWilliams, MA's video on Why being organized is hard for some children...


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (bridges.edu).

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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