Clean Desk, Clear Mindset

Clean Desk, Clear Mindset

Children achieve more with organized room

by Priscilla Greear 
Is your child's desk drawer a knickknack abyss crammed with mementos from pre-K 3 through middle school? Does pulling out the art box from the closet create an avalanche of falling notebooks? As  the new year unfolds, it's time for the kids to wipe the desk clean, get organized and learn the scholastic art (and science) of tidying up--starting with their bedroom. And let the future high achievers do their chores themselves to take pride in their organized space, develop a work ethic and better focus on academics.

Ready to Learn: Research supports the commission of junior household assistants. A Clorox survey of 1,000 parents on their children found that 83 percent are more productive, 77 percent more creative and 77 percent less stressed when working in a clean desk or workspace. And those in a messy room tend to stop mid-activity. 

In PsychCentral, Anjali Gowda Ferguson, a licensed clinical psychologist, says that cleanliness and the process of cleaning are associated with many positive health outcomes. “Research has shown that cleaning  and a clean space can improve mood, give a sense of control and reduce stress and anxiety. Cleaning also provides children a sense of responsibility,” Ferguson says. Putting the cleaning task in their hands helps promote adaptive living skills and builds self-esteem. It also cites a 2020 study that increased levels of disorganization in families resulted in poor behavioral, communication and cognitive outcomes. 

Take Room Ownership: The Soccer Mom Blog cites a 75-year Harvard study that one common thing that high achievers had in common was learning to do chores as a child. It named work ethic as a critical factor for future success and one of the best way to instill it in children is participating in household responsibilities. School counselor Jessica Howard recommends to start early with kids making the bed and cleaning the room--even toddlers can toss toys in a basket. “These strong organization habits learned by cleaning their bedroom translate into better organizational skills in the classroom, a tidy backpack, less homework lost or forgotten, and, in turn: better grades.”

Family Clean Team: To kickstart the decluttering project, guide children through decisions on how to best store items, pitch or donate. And cleaning that desk drawer might actually turn up that long lost Rubik's Race or guide sheet on Spanish conjugations. “You might be surprised when they actually want to help and be part of the decision-making process--if you just ask them. Even if they don't tell you, many kids are comforted by order and cleanliness. It's so nice when they can find their favorite toys and books right away.” recommends creating a "Tidy Time" of 10-15 minutes daily for cleanup. Also try to make a list of simple daily tasks, or give allowance to teach the value of money and work. 

Cool, Calm and Capable: The homeschool website notes how children's cleaning up also fosters gratitude for what they have. And they'll have a calm, restful space to contemplate the cosmos. "It feels so good to go home to a clean room at the end of a day. Knowing that everything is in order brings a sense of calm...Tidiness brings more peace to our home (and) sets our kids up for future success."