Sandy Rhee, Organizing Guru
The end of August is quickly approaching and, with it, the beginning of another school year. The time of year that kids bemoan and parents rejoice. It can be a stressful time when there is no plan for getting ready, so let’s talk about it.
It’s time to start resetting the families’ internal clocks to the school schedules. That might mean going to bed and getting up earlier than during the summer months. Don’t wait to start the earlier bedtimes until the night before. Start the process early so kids can gradually get used to it. Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day is ideal for quality of sleep but not always possible. It doesn’t hurt to aim for it though.
It’s also time to think about activities that kids want to do in the fall and spring. Don’t overbook kids. Younger kids need time for unstructured play and older kids need time to work or socialize. Try not to allow kids to sign up for so many extracurricular activities that they are constantly on the go.
Start morning and evening routines with kids. The night before, they should pack up their bag or backpack with everything for the next day, pick out their clothes, and relax a bit before trying to go to sleep. Turn off all electronics well before bedtime. Morning routines should focus on getting ready, which will be easier since all the bags are already put together and nothing is left until the last minute.
Want visuals for your routines? A quick Google or Pinterest search on “Daily Routine Charts” brings up hundreds of ideas for the DIYers and Planet Safe (www.PlanetSafeCalendars.com) sells a laminated flip chart for those who don’t want to DIY.
Kids come with a lot of stuff and school seems to just multiply it. They have school clothes and school supplies and backpacks and lunch kits and the list goes on. The first step is to find out what you currently have. Take a few minutes to gather all the left over school supplies from previous years. Sort it so you can see how much of each item you already have.
Make a list of school supplies you need to buy once you take into account what you already have. If you don’t already have a place to hold all the extras, do that now too. It might be a cabinet in the kitchen or office, or maybe in a portable filing bin. This is a good time to watch for the sales on supplies and stock up a little for the year. Don’t overdo it though and limit your extras to the amount of space you can allot to them.
Now do the same thing with school clothes. Go through clothes with your child and set aside anything that no longer fits their size or taste. Inventory what is left and fill in the necessary gaps. Of course, when purchasing, look for quality over quantity.
Create a landing spot for your kids for when they get home each day. Have room for backpacks, shoes, jackets, sports gear, and extracurricular items like instruments and uniforms. Every day for the first couple weeks, run through the process of coming in and putting things in the landing zone rather than everywhere in the house.
The amount of paperwork that comes home from school can possibly be described as epic! Have a plan for all that paper before it starts showing up. You need a few solutions based on what the paperwork is for.
First, have a regular, single spot for the papers that need your attention and/or signature before being returned to school. Forms, permission slips, graded papers that need a signature, etc. should go into that spot as soon as your child gets home each day. Then, during the evening, parents should take appropriate action and then give it back to the student to put in their bag right away. There is nothing worse than watching your whole class go on a field trip while you’re languishing in the library all day since you don’t have your permission slip.
Second, you need a spot for the papers that are current. This will usually be in the student’s binder or folder.
Finally, you need a filing spot for papers that kids are finished with. If your child is old enough for end of term exams, this should be a storage spot like a file drawer or such. Young children won’t need to do this, but some special papers may want to be saved as a representation of them growing up and learning new things. Try to cull this regularly and aim to keep just the most special. For bulky projects and such, plan to take a photograph of your child holding it then keep the photo and lose the project.
With some planning, the school year can start off right for everyone. Here’s to a Grade A+ year.
The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg – Full of tips on how to help your kids get and stay organized for school.
Academic Planners from www.OrderOOChaos.com—Created by a teacher to help students learn to plan their time. The website is full of how to videos and articles as well.
Healthy Habit Flip Chart by www.PlanetSafeCalendars.com – up to 10 steps each in the morning and evening.
Before founding Organization Guru in 2008, I was a Middle and High School Math teacher for 15 years. Back to School was a time I looked forward to every year and I always had my own checklist to follow for my stuff, my clothes, and my classroom. As an organizer, I am still teaching, it’s just a different subject. I help bring calm to those who are overwhelmed by the things in their lives that have accumulated to a point where they are no longer happy. It is a job I enjoy immensely. I am the Secretary of NAPO-NE and a member of NAPO-Greater Manchester New Hampshire as well. Outside of work, I am an avid Obstacle Course Racer.