Back to School

How do you know it’s Back-to-School time? Some would say it’s when the stores fill the shelves with pencil cases and notebooks. Others might say it’s when the infamous Staples commercial starts to air –you know the one. The background music plays the holiday favorite, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…” Moms and dads are dancing down the school supplies aisle as their children’s sad faces follow behind.

Back-to-School season marks the start of a new year for many kids and their parents. It’s a time to start fresh and create some new habits for the school year. Not sure where to start? Sharpen your pencils and take notes of some tips for making the next school year more organized for you and your child.

Review
Think about your kids and how the school year progressed last year. Were papers lost? Homework not finished until 10:00p.m. the night before it was due? Were the kids always prepared for their school day? On a sheet of paper make two columns: one “Last Year” and one for “This Year”. In the “Last Year” column write down things that did not go smoothly (for instance, missed the bus/carpool often). In the “This Year” column, write how changes can be made going forward, such as “Get kids up 15 minutes earlier”, “Pack lunch the night before”, “Park packed backpacks by the door”. Be sure to include your kids in this exercise, with their input it gets them vested in making changes and accountability.

Supplies
Take advantage of Back-to-School sales and stock up on supplies. By winter break, glue sticks are dried up and you have run out of notebook paper. Inventory your children’s supplies 2-3 times per year. Supplies are used, borrowed, easily lost or broken. If you know what supplies you have and what you need to keep on hand, you will rarely be caught short when a project is due.

Preparation
Preparing items, the night before makes for a less stressful morning for both parent and child. Some things you can do the night before include: pack lunch and leave in refrigerator; lay out next day’s clothes including after school sports outfits; pack backpacks and leave by the door; and set out plates/bowls for breakfast.

Homework Essentials
Chances are, as your child begins the new school year, he or she does so with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and a little angst. You can help ease the transition, and help your child achieve his or her academic goals, by creating a well-organized workstation filled with all the essentials he or she will need to succeed.

Workstation
Begin with a good desk that can comfortably accommodate a computer and its peripheral hardware as well as provide an additional writing surface. Equip the desk with basic supplies such as a calculator, pencil sharpener, index cards, plus pens and pencils in an open container. Add color=coded file folders that your child can use to organize his or her work by subject. Hang a bulletin board over the work space to include your child’s “to do” lists, as well as a special section that charts exemplary achievements.

Create a home for supplies that your children use on a daily basis. Have younger kids decorate a coffee can for their crayons/pencils – let teens pick out colorful containers for their work space. This will give them a feeling of ownership and they’ll be more likely to take good care of their belongings. Emphasize to your children that time spent searching for supplies is time they could be outside playing or hanging out with friends. Being organized will allow them to accomplish schoolwork more efficiently, so they can have more time for friends and other interests.

Time Management/Organization
Get into the habit of doing homework at the same time and in the same place every day. Getting children into a routine will help to keep them organized. Also, this is a great time for you to tackle your paperwork. Children are more likely to concentrate on their studies if they see parents engaged in similar activities. Encourage your kids to address the tougher subjects/assignments first. They’ll be relieved to finish and have enough energy left to complete their easier assignments.

Paper
Create an area for incoming and outgoing papers. This could be a box where children empty their backpacks of notes from the teacher, school newsletters, permission slips, and any other papers the parents need to see.

Even little ones who cannot read yet can start getting organized. Write their name on a box or plastic container. Have your child decorate it and put pictures of themselves on it.