Monday: Weekly Family Activity—Interview Your Children About Their Rooms

August 25th, 2008 in Monday: Weekly Family Activity

Green Daisy Garden Bedroom

My mother in law let me borrow this wonderful book that was published back in 1985, How to Organize Your Kid’s Room by Susan Isaacs. It is making me re-think the way I set up my girl’s rooms and how it will help or hinder their ability to play, do their chores, study and keep things organized.

The book gives a three step process to get your kid’s rooms organized.

#1 Create a Profile of Your Child

Age–Skills (ex. if they can make their bed, do their own laundry, fold their own clothes, change their own sheets, etc.), Active Interests (what they spend most of their day doing, ex. reading, playing with toys, drawing, homework, etc.), Waning Interests, Changing patters (what new needs you can see in the future or that he/she now needs from their room), Personality Characteristics (how do their personality traits influence the way your child uses their room?), Schedule (how often and what times of day they use their room), Social Patterns (do other children use the room also?), Cleaning or Lack of Habits (does your child stuff their clothes under the bed? Leave wet towels on the floor?), and Prioties (what are your priorities for the room and more importantly your child’s, More space to do art? Better lightening?)

Step #2 Observe Your Child’s Room

Susan says, “Now that you have gathered information on your client, your next step is to observe how they use their room.” She says try not to be judgemental and to see the room through your child’s eyes.

Spend a good half an hour in your child’s room when he or she is not home, sit in the middle of the room with a pen and pencil and record your initial IMPRESSIONS (not solutions!). How do you think the room makes your child feel? What would it be like to relax here? Play with friends here? To quickly get up and get ready for school?

Look at the list you made in step #1 and see at how many could be successfully carried on in the room. Write down what is current or obsolete. Then, make a list of these four functions: grooming, resting, playing and working. These don’t nessicarally have to be separate areas, they may very likley overlap. Put the activities on your list where they are typically taking place, not where you intended them to take place. Then you can start analyzing the problems!

For example:

Paper and game pieces under the bed—child uses the bed for an activity center but has no place nearby to store item—provide storage near the bed.

Clothes on floor—clothes storage not adjacent to each other—make putting clothes away convenient by coordinating storage.

Homework gets lost—-no organizing system for incoming and outgoing papers—set up a system.

Step #3 Interview Your Child (this would be a great thing to do for your weekly family activity)

Susan writes, “Telling your child that you want to work with him on getting his room “straight” or  “clean” may turn him off right away. But asking him how he would like to change his room may inspire him to spend time working with you!” Of course your child’s attention span may limit their involvement. But meeting and interviewing your child can communicate your respect for his choices. Ask your child these questions:

1. What would you like to change in your room? What are your priorities? Ask them how it feels to…read in their room, build models in their room, etc.

2. What activities and interests have you outgrown? What items are just taking up space?

3.  Ask them about problems without blaming. Phrase your statements in a way that express your empathy for their needs and indicate that you want to hear if your perceptions are accurate or not.

4. Talk about options.

5. Talk about containers, where they would like to store certain things.

6. Plan activity areas (work space, grooming space, play space and rest space) Discuss the idea of having things stored near the activity and putting like with like.

Don’t get discouraged if your child doesn’t like talking about their room as much as you want them to :)

This should get you started and your mind rolling, I hope to share more from this wonderful book in the future!

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