When you think “Back-to-School” do phrases like “MOM, where’s my homework??”, or “Dad, I forgot that this report is due…TOMORROW!”, come to mind? It can be a stressful time, shaking off the laziness of summer and getting back into go mode.
Here are 5 tips to getting your family organized before school starts. This should help you avoid, or at least minimize, those last minute surprises.
1. Get on the Same Page
Create a scheduling center for the family with a physical or web-based calendar. Try this Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar by Board Dudes. Use different colors for different activities or members of the family. To save set-up time, buy stickers that represent recurring activities like soccer practice or ballet lessons. Or, try a web based system like BLIS – Best Life Information System, a premier home life management and organization system. You and your family can share and update the calendar and/or choose to upload specific activities or events to the calendar of your choice (iCal, Microsoft Outlook etc.)
2. Make a Plan
Talk to your kids about how they keep track of their homework, after-school activities, and social life. Create a system that will help them develop habits for success. Download this “Keep It Together” planner page for an example of an effective physical planner system, or, if your kids do everything on their iPhone or computer, check out this Apple Application iHomework.
3. It’s in the bag (or backpack)
Create a backpack checklist with your kids and keep a copy at their desk or near the door just before they leave. It’s a good idea to also keep one in their notebook or at their locker to minimize the panic of a forgotten textbook or notepad. Place the list in a plastic sheet protector and have your child use a dry erase marker to check off the items each day. Check out this list to get started:
- Notebooks & Binders
- Homework Assignments
- Daily Planner
- Pens, Pencils, Highlighter, Ruler, Calculator
- Clothes & Equipment for After School Activities
- Gym Clothes
- Cell Phone
- Lunch & Snacks
- Personal Items
4. Drop it off
Create a designated area for your child to drop their school and activity related stuff when they get home, and to pick it up before they leave the next day. This area should ideally be located near their study space. Have your kids to get in the habit of unloading the contents of their backpack and any extra bags they carry each day into the Drop Spot. If they sort and organize at the end of each day, this will minimize “lost” items and ensure that nothing is forgotten.
5. Quick Study…Space
Set up a desk space with your child that encourages concentration and creativity. A good study space should have the basics like a computer, printer, file box and supplies, as well as an ergonomic set up, good lighting, a bulletin board to display “A” papers or pictures of their friends, and trash and recycle bins. Set the study area up in a place where you child wants to be, but is also out of the way of the main traffic in the house.
See this blog on how to set up a stylish study space for more tips.
Arming your child with the skills of organization at an early age will benefit them throughout their lives, whether it’s for school, organizing social events or being successful in a job. They keys are communicating and coordinating schedules, developing effective systems for upcoming deadlines, and designing a study/work space that is functional and has a place for everything.