Organized for success - part 1


             I was intrigued to discover that there is a relationship between a clean, well-organized home and the educational and financial success of the children who grew up there. In a study done by three university sociologists, the findings were that children completed more schooling (13.6 years compared to 12) and earned a higher salary ($14.70 per hour compared to $12.60) in clean and well-organized homes than in “not very clean to dirty” homes.

            One long-term benefit of having an orderly home is that children learn this while they are growing up and under their parents’ influence. It’s a skill that can be applied as they move on to their teenage years during high school and then make the transitions to college and, ultimately, their own homes, whether they live alone, with friends, or with their own families. 

            Underlying our culture is a mentality concerning the collection and retention of material possessions. Because many of us either lived through or are children of people who lived through the Great Depression, we have been schooled in the practice of stockpiling possessions, and, in many cases, retaining items whether or not they are useful or necessary.

             With this in mind, what are concerned parents to do? After all, families have so much to organize, as every member of the family has both visible and non-visible aspects of their lives to be organized. The visible objects may be easier to deal with, simply because they are visible; these are clothing, work/school supplies, hobbies, toys, and food. But that is not all! Each member of the family also has responsibilities, relationships both inside and outside of the home, and limitations on their time and skills. Mix these variables together, and you have the equivalent of a juggling act that takes many years of practice to keep moving smoothly.

             The study, “As Ye Sweep, So Shall Ye Reap,” was written by Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (Columbia University), Greg Duncan (Northwestern University) and Rachel Dunifon (University of Michigan). It was published in the May, 2001 issue of the American Economic Review.

             See next week’s column for the first step to take in organizing your family.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents.

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