Back to School Organizing Strategies for Families
In the annual mad rush of back-to-school planning and preparations, parents and their kids are gearing up for another new school year. This is a great opportunity to put a few easy organizing strategies in place at home, to make sure this school year runs as smoothly as possible.
Looking Back to Plan Ahead
Set yourself up for success this year, by reflecting back on what did or didn’t work for you last time around. If every morning in your house is an exercise in chaos, make a list of things that can be done the night before, such as packing lunches and picking out clothes. Also, have a simple, nightly checklist to review so nothing crucial is forgotten – homework, library books, sports equipment and uniforms, or musical instruments, etc. – then have your kids prepare their backpacks and leave them by the front door before bedtime, to cut down on morning stress.
Set Systems in Place
Staying on top of everything that comes in and goes out to school can be a real challenge, especially if you have more than one student at home. Tacking everything to your fridge may be easy, but it’s not a very effective organizing strategy. The best tip for keeping your kids’ papers organized is to create a foolproof system where nothing gets lost.
1. Calendar Control
Between school functions, lunch menus, after-school activities and recitals, your calendar is probably too full to even read. Take control by creating a central calendar to wrangle everyone’s schedules. This can be on paper, whiteboard, or any other format that works for you – the key isn’t what you use, but that you use it consistently. Take five minutes every evening to refer to and refresh your one-stop time management station.
Create a color-coding system so each family member is seen as a different color on your calendar so you can easily decipher the schedule and help keep everyone’s overlapping obligations straight. Hang the calendar near a telephone, so it’s readily available whenever someone calls with a scheduling request or if you’re using a digital calendar, be sure to keep a tablet or laptop nearby your ‘control center’.
2. The Paper Chase
Schedule a time each day after school to go through the papers and assignments the kids brought home. Keep only what you need and purge any unnecessary items immediately. This will save time and prevent the dreaded paper pileup. Then separate the remaining papers into two categories: 1) items that require you to take action, and 2) items that should be kept for future reference. Take action right away: sign permission slips, add relevant dates to your calendar, etc.
Then file reference items like class lists, contact information, and school rules in a three ring binder. This will be easier for your kids to search through than a file box, and you’ll always know where the important information is when you need it.
3. Homework Central
Designate an area where your kids can do their homework each day and allocate a cabinet, shelf or drawer as a homework station to house everything they might need to tend to their assignments – pens and pencils, paper, glue sticks, a ruler, dictionary, calculator, etc. If you have the space for it, add a chalkboard to list recurring or extended projects, so you can stay on top of deadlines and track your kids’ progress.
Ease back into the routine.
The first day back to school after a long and leisurely summer can be a shock to the system. There’s no need to make it any harder than it already is by imposing a bunch of changes on your family all at once. Instead, step into the school year gradually and help everyone feel prepared by introducing them to the systems you created and showing them how they will make things easier for everyone. Make sure that they feel confident as they face the year ahead and you’ll be ready to take on anything that comes their way.
What organizing strategies does your family do to stay on top of the back-to-school bedlam? Are there any unique organizing challenges you need help with? Let us know in the comments below so we can share specific tips for organizing your upcoming school year like a pro!