Each of my children has a color. They are:
Caleb – blue
Lily – purple
Jude – orange
Hoyt – green (although since Caleb left for college last year, Hoyt has been using blue more and more)
Belle – pink
When I first decided to color code my kids, Caleb was 6, Lily was 4, and Jude was an infant. I allowed Caleb and Lily to choose their own colors, and I assigned Jude orange because I had an attractive orange diaper bag (“attractive” as in not your typical duckies or Winnie-the-Pooh printed bag). As Hoyt and Belle came along, I assigned them colors that seemed appropriate for their little selves.
So, how does coloring coding children work and why is it the single most effective organization tool in our homeschool?
I buy materials for each child in their color (LOVE July Back-to-School sales). Notebooks, pencils, binders, erasers, pencil boxes, and more are purchased with my children’s colors in mind. Boom! Instantly, there is no fight about, “She has my notebook!”
There is no questioning which child left his pencil on the table. There is no doubt about who has taken care of their things and whose stuff is falling part.
This color coding extends beyond school as well. The entire bathroom is organized by color. Each child has two towels, in their color. He or she also has a hook for their wet towel, marked with their color. We also have small bins for their toiletries, and toothbrushes, combs, and brushes in their colors.
Ever go to make dinner and find twice as many cups on the dirty dishes counter than you have people in the house, and yet the dishes were all clean and put away when everyone got out of bed that morning? Ugh. In my house, at least, this is especially aggravating, as the kids only have water to drink most days. There is no reason to call a cup “dirty” after one drink of plan water, and yet my kids were doing just that, getting a new cup every time they were thirsty. Cups, purchased in their colors, stopped that, as it became easy to see which child was helping himself to many cups a day.
Occasionally I have no option to buy things in varying colors, but I have tools on hand ready for that. I keep ribbon, Sharpies, and duct tape on hand in each person’s color. The only composition books with graph paper available are all covered in black and white? No problem, colored duct tape on the spine takes care of that. I can’t resist the amazing doorbuster price of zipper pencil bags, even though they only come in clear? Ribbon on the zipper is a quick fix. The kids use up (or lose) all 10 of the good Ticonderoga pencils I purchased in their colors at the beginning of the year and have to use a yellow one? Colored Sharpie on the top half inch of the pencil works fine.
Oh, and it’s not just the children. I am color coded too. I’m red. Any red pen, binder, journal, earbuds, travel mug, etc. you see in the house belong to me. My things are not for children’s use without permission, just as I don’t use their things without permission, and they aren’t supposed to use each other’s things without permission (which, of course, does happen occasionally, but then the guilty party has no argument and must give back or even reimburse).
This one thing has made the biggest and longest impact on my homeschool household organization. At times it is more expensive to buy things in specific colors, but it has been worth it. I didn’t originate the idea of color coding my children, but it is the best piece of organization advice I have ever received.
Have you assigned colors to your children? Are there any areas I have not mentioned that you have extended the coloring coding to? Does it seem a bit inhumane to you to color code people? I’d love to hear your thoughts.