There are tons of articles out there just now about getting organized for back to school. Is your little one ready? Are you? Here are some tips for you both.
Back to School Organizing Tips For Little Ones:
Help them with routines. Actually write down the things they are expected to do at bedtime and in the morning, two of the most stressful points of the day. Make a list and hang it by the door or in their room.
Show them where their stuff goes. Does their backpack belong on a hook, in a cubby, or in their room? It’s hard to put things “away” when you don’t know where “away’ is.
Show them a schedule or calendar. How will they know when things are due, when they have activities, or when their birthday falls? Let them handle a calendar. Help them visualize small bits of time, with the movement of hands on an analog clock, and large blocks of time, like the number of weeks before report card time. The passage of time is an abstract concept that even adults have trouble with (facebook time warp, anyone?), so help them mark time visually whenever possible.
For the Parents:
Gather supplies. Yes, you can go school shopping the first night of school, after you’ve received the “back to school” list by grade. But you can also stock up on necessities now, with deals on pencils, paper, and other standard items already in the stores. Pick up a few extra now, when they are $.10 each, to get you through the long winter.
Label goodies. Good quality labels (Mabel’s Labels and my Brother laminated label tape are some of my favorites) that can withstand the dishwasher and washing machine, are a must. Label everything, including the backs of spoons, and definitely label all electronics. Include a phone number so items can be returned. A $10 pack of labels might save you hundreds over the next year.
Decide on routines. What worked well last year? What didn’t work as well? Are your kids old enough to help you brainstorm their routines? Spend some time deciding what your routine looks like, and seeing if there really is enough time to accomplish everything in the morning. If common distractions like play time or pre-workday email checking are slowing you both down, be honest and decide how you’ll deal with them.
Create a school binder for each kid. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a hard-bound 3-ring binder with pocket folders inside. Administrative information, contact lists and rosters, team details, and weekly classroom newsletters can be stored here without having to look for the 3-hole punch. Keep these binders handy in a family “command center” which could be a designated spot in your kitchen, family room, or home office.
Of course, there are other things you can do to feel more prepared, but keep in mind that staying organized not really about the stuff. Staying organized is more about thinking through how your day is likely to go, and the systems that you need to have in place to meet the uncertainty that crops up in every single day.