The lazy, hazy days of summer are winding down and it’s time to get ready for the inevitable return to school. This year, instead of waiting for school to get too far underway before you get your act together and get organized, why not be proactive and organize now so that you never get behind and buried in the flurry of permission forms, homework and lunch boxes.
Check out these five “back to school” tips to get you and your kids organized now for a hassle free school year.
#1 Set Up a Routine Now
Set up a routine now and test it out. Hooks by the front or back door for backpacks, jackets and lunch bags give your kids a defined place to hang stuff. A bin or shelf for shoes nearby helps too. After homework is done in the afternoon, have your child repack their backpack so there’s no morning scramble. Get up on your school schedule time and do a practice run a couple of days before the official start date and practice the afternoon routine as well. This will get the whole family in the back-to-school frame of mind and allow you to fine tune your a.m. and p.m. routines before the big day.
#2 Create a Homework Station
The best way to encourage homework to be done promptly and without argument is to create an area dedicated to it. Whether it’s the kitchen table or the coffee table, wherever your child works best, make this the homework station. Then place a rolling cart nearby (if in the kitchen) or bins under the table (for the living room) and stock with supplies. Pens, pencils, markers, papers, calculator and everything else should be within reach so your child can stay seated and focused. Consistency is key and having an assigned place for homework makes it easier to encourage good homework and study habits.
#3 Set up a Calendar System
The busier your family is, the more important it is to have a good calendar system . Post a large wall calendar (a small one with little space to write in each box one won’t do) and color code entries by family members. Include school events, tests, project due dates, extracurricular activities, doctor appointments, field trips, etc. Then once a week (Sunday is a good day), transfer the events for the upcoming week to a calendar on your smart phone. Cozi is a free app that allows multiple people to share a calendar so you can enter it once and mom, dad, kid and grandparents can all see the entries, get alerts and access information.
#4 Stock Up on Supplies
Nothing can ruin an evening faster than being told there’s a project due tomorrow and your kid needs poster board or construction paper. When school supplies go on sale in the next couple of weeks, stock up on poster board (it’s easy to store loosely wound with a rubber band), construction paper, glitter, markers, stencils, glue sticks and all other project essentials (you can store the smaller items in bins or drawers)… Combined with the calendar system, projects should never take you unawares again and you can eliminate the 7 pm panic and need to dash to the store!
#5 Create a Paper Management System
Although it’s tempting, you shouldn’t keep every single paper your child accumulates. Hang on to just a couple a week – great drawings, funny writing assignments, or projects that they put lots of thought, effort and personalization into, and toss the rest. Dedicate a small box or bin on a shelf for keepsake papers. For paper that need to be signed and sent back (with or without money), complete immediately and send back the next day so there’s no chance they’ll get lost. At year end, go back through the year’s papers, pull out what’s golden and let the rest go (there will be more next year!). Store what you keep in a box or slide into sleeve protectors in a binder and shelve it.
#6 Teach your child how to use an academic planner
Don’t have them rely on memory! We all forget dates when things are due, and activities we have planned. Have your child use a planner to keep track of when homework is due and what their weekly schedule is. We recommend the planner from Order out of Chaos .
If your house is hectic and you need assistance getting it organized, Simply Placed can help. In addition to home organization assistance, we help middle and high schoolers with an Organize for School group seminar or individual consultations. Contact us now for assistance.