The start of the school year brings a new schedule, additional activities, and budding demands on everyone’s time. Forget New Year’s Eve: the start of the school year is when parents often make resolutions to get organized! Getting ready for back to school may cause some stress in your life, but you don’t have to let school send your family life into chaos. Use these back to school organization ideas and tips to handle the transition with ease.
1. Make a family calendar. Chances are with school starting up, your family calendar is about to get more complicated. Between school activities, homework, fall sports, and everyday life, there is too much to keep track of all in your head. What you need is a family calendar and now is the perfect time to create one. Whether you post a magnetic calendar on your fridge, use an old-fashioned paper calendar on the wall, or create a shared digital calendar for the family, it needs to be accessible to everyone. Sharing a calendar helps everyone in the family keep the varying days and activities straight and helps get everyone organized for back to school.
2. Create a homework station. Not long after school starts, homework follows. Get ready now by setting up a homework station. If your child has a desk, make sure it’s stocked with supplies and is in a quiet place ideal for focus. If your kids will be using the kitchen table or another centrally located space, create a caddy with school supplies that can be pulled out and placed on the table at homework time. Consider creating dividers out of cardboard boxes if you have multiple kids at the table. It’s a great way to minimize distractions during homework time. A homework station doesn’t need to be fancy, but it’s important to have a designated time and place for school work to stay organized and on top of assignments.
3. Designate a spot for after school snacks. Almost as soon as they get through the door after school, most kids go digging for a snack. Create a bin of pre-planned after school snacks with healthy, brain fueling options. This can be a drawer in the refrigerator with cheese sticks and pre-cut fruits and veggies, a bin in the cupboard with bags of pretzels or dried fruit, or a bowl on the table with granola bars. Set it up right and your kids can grab their own healthy snack every day after school. It also saves time if you have after-school activities to get to or your child gets cranky when they’re hungry.
4. Set up backpack hooks or cubbies. Who hasn’t had their kids toss their coat and backpack on the floor the minute they come through the door after school? If you want to be organized, you have to stop that habit before it starts. Before the school year begins, figure out where backpacks and coats are going to go. Is there a place you can put hooks on the wall to hang them near the door? Or a cupboard or closet they can set them in? Make a plan now to avoid having backpacks cluttering up your entryway for the next nine months.
5. Clean out closets and dressers. Shopping for back to school clothes is a tradition in many families. There are great deals on kids clothes, and the weather is about to change, so chances are your kids need a few new things to replace what they’ve outgrown or worn out since last fall. Before going school shopping, get organized at home by cleaning out closets and dressers. Donate or discard old clothes to make room for the new.
6. Create a morning routine checklist. School mornings are a hectic time of day in most households, and if you want to start your school days off with minimum stress, plan out a morning routine ahead of time. What time will everyone get up? Do you need a shower schedule? What’s the plan for breakfast? Will your kids lay out clothes the night before or choose clothes in the morning? Start talking about this now so that the first day of school doesn’t fall apart before it begins. If your child has trouble getting moving or staying focused in the morning, consider a visual schedule or checklist for them to complete.
7. Make an on-the-go car kit. One great way to stay organized for back to school is to have a stash of emergency supplies in the car. This can mean pens and pencils for last minute homework or parent signatures in the car, or a box of granola bars for days that breakfast gets missed. Include a small emergency stash of cash for a kid that forgets their lunch box, too. Almost anything that could go wrong can be planned for and disaster averted if you think ahead.
8. Set up a parent inbox. One of my favorite back to school organization ideas is setting up an inbox for parents. This is the place for your kids to put any permission slips you need to sign, notes from their teacher, or homework they want you to check over. This can also really help with organization of papers like school lunch menus, PTA reminders, or anything else school related that you don’t want to lose track of.
9. Plan for school lunches. Now is the time for organization of school lunches. What will your kids be eating? Do you want to set up stations where they can pack their own lunches? Or will mom or dad be doing it the night before? Decide how things will work so you can get organized and have everything go smoothly from the first day. If your child prefers hot lunch, find out when and how you need to add money to their school lunch account. Getting it done now means you can cross one more thing off of your to-do list.
10. Get your child a planner. And make sure they use it! Most students think they don’t need to use an academic planner because they can just remember homework, projects, and upcoming tests, but that will only work until it doesn’t. Student planners are extremely useful organization tools to help us manage our daily activities and achieve our goals. It’s like having an external brain to remember things.
Do you have any additional back to school organization tips to share? Let us know in the comments.
Boston Tutoring Services