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Organisation and planning skills

Poor organisational skills can make it difficult for a young person to develop independence from others.

If a young person has poor organisational skills and is struggling to learn independently, you might notice them:

  • Fiddling with equipment rather than getting on with a task
  • Frequently asking for help in a non-specific way, such as ”I can’t do it” versus ”I don’t know how to use a compass”
  • Not knowing where or how to start a task
  • Starting a task in the middle or at the end
  • Not collecting the required equipment


Learning and implementing new strategies takes time, so patience and consistency is key. A child or young person may need considerable adult support at first, but this support can be gradually reduced as their confidence and independence increase.

  • Help the child identify the steps needed to begin and accomplish the task. Ask them to repeat the instructions and if possible write them down
  • Give the child a short piece of work so that they can feel instant success by completing the task. Break down task into smaller parts that are achievable within a certain timeframe
  • Give one direction at a time. After one action is successfully completed, add another action
  • Use visual support to help reduce the demand on the child to remember multi-step instructions
  • Rehearse what the child has learned on a regular basis; repetition is useful
  • Encourage problem solving: ask the child questions about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. If unsuccessful, ask them to try again and see if they will come up with an alternative strategy
  • Encourage the child to talk about what they are doing while they are carrying out the activity
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat instructions or ask for extra time if you need it
  • Have a list of things you need to do such as items to put in your bag/PE kit or homework that needs to be done
  • To help remember your timetable use a weekly planner or checklist on your bedroom wall. Duplicate the timetable and keep them in relevant places e.g. home, locker, desk etc.
  • Use a diary or notebook to write down important things you need to remember and cross them off when finished
  • Use a colour-coding system to identify all information relevant to a subject e.g. Maths- red, English- blue
  • Be prepared! For example, pack your school bag/PE kit the night before, lay out your clothes/uniform in order
  • Break homework down into small, manageable chunks and tick off after each part is completed
  • To make dressing for PE easier and quicker, make sure that your kit/bag is easy to access, avoid fiddly fastenings, use Velcro shoes or Lock laces
  • If you are worried about learning a new game or sport or using unfamiliar PE equipment, try to do some research in advance e.g. reading up, watching videos or asking an adult to go through the steps with you

If you’ve tried all of these techniques and you’re still not seeing any improvement after four months, please do speak to your health visitor or GP.