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Kid-Friendly Organization to Build Independence

originally written for and published on Wolf+Friends

I have a knack for organizing just about everything - my shoes are all in clear bins, my laundry room is tidy, and even my “junk” drawer makes sense! I’m always looking for the cutest and most functional toy storage ideas that will make cleaning up the playroom easier for the kids. They don’t realize it, but I am teaching my children important executive functioning “life" skills, fostering independence, and minimizing anxiety!

organization for independent kids

Small Storage: Shopkins, Legos, Beads…you know it is likely you will uncover these tiny pieces everywhere in your home! Before the vacuum gets to them, I have the kids sort the toys into clear stackable craft boxes. I use these boxes for any toys with small pieces and the kids help by making each one distinguishable with themed stickers or washi tape label on the side. In our art center of the playroom, it is helpful for the kids sort their markers, crayons, scissors/punches, and glue into these stackable clear drawers. They love that they can see the contents without opening lots of boxes. Utilize these small storage solutions to teach your child sorting, the basis for organization!

Mid-sized Storage: Dinosaurs, vehicles, dress-up clothes… For the piles of stuffed animal collections and dress-up clothes, try throwing them into these adorable 3-Sprouts bins. Barbies, dinosaurs, train tracks, and magformers get separated into soft-sided cubes. The key to mid-sized storage is making sure the container is lightweight enough to be moved with the heavier toys inside! Stackable storage isn’t ideal because little arms can’t take down the larger bins and it will prevent kids from being independent in cleaning up.

By involving your kids in the organization process and teaching them where items correctly belong, you’ll also encourage them to collect their own materials. Just like teachers organize their classrooms, take a look at your playroom to see if you can create zones like an art center, creative play, game table. By defining your spaces, kids will be able to seek out materials more successfully if they know the function of the object they’re looking for.

When kids develop the understanding that every toy has a place, and you help them follow basic rules of organization, you’ll be reducing those anxious moments when your child’s favorite stuffed animal goes missing and promoting problem-solving when you direct your child to look for their missing item in its identified spot. It may seem like teaching your child to clean up, organize, and sort their toys is a never-ending battle that isn’t worth the effort…but, fast forward to when your child needs to maintain organization of his/her closet, backpack, or school binder. He will need the executive functioning skills that you are working so hard to reinforce, and he’ll be better off for it!


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