This is a guest post by my friend Lynette Apley, Kirkland resident and one of the most organized people I know. Our kids went to preschool together long ago and we planned a little auction where she was the brains behind the operation and I just stood still with my jaw open and watched in amazement of her. Super efficient lady. So with the start of school and the chaos that ensues around this busy time of year, I thought of Lynette, who is now a Professional Organizer for Simply Placed, and how she could share some of her organizing gems with us, the mere mortals of Kirkland that are barely holding it together.....thank you Lynette.....
This year, instead of waiting for school to get too far underway before you get your act together and get organized, why not be proactive and organize now so that you never get behind and buried in the flurry of permission slips, homework and lunch boxes.
Check out these six "back to school" tips to get you and your kids organized now for a hassle free school year.
#1 Set Up a Routine Now
Kids understand organization - that's how schools work. They have particular spots in the classroom for all of their stuff...and you can do the same thing at home. Hooks by the door for backpacks, jackets and lunch bags give your kids a defined place for these things. A bin or shelf or even mat for shoes nearby helps too. After homework is done in the afternoon, have your child repack their backpack so there's no morning scramble.
#2 Create a Homework Station
The best way to encourage is to create an area dedicated to it. Whether it's the kitchen table or the coffee table, wherever your child works best, make this the homework station. Then place a rolling cart or bins or caddy nearby and stock with supplies. Pens, pencils, markers, paper, calculator and everything else should be within reach so your child can stay seated and focused. Consistency is key and having an assigned place for homework makes it easier to encourage good homework and study habits.
#3 Set up a Calendar System
The busier your family is, the more important it is to have a good calendar system . Post a large wall calendar (a small one with little space to write in each box one won't do) and color code entries by family members. Include school events, tests, project due dates, extracurricular activities, doctor appointments, field trips, etc. Then once a week (Sunday is a good day),review the week with the family and transfer events to your smart phone as necessary. Try syncing devices so you're all on the same page. Cozi is a free app that allows multiple people to share a calendar so you can enter it once and mom, dad, kid and grandparents can all see the entries, get alerts and access information.
#4 Stock Up on Supplies
Nothing can ruin an evening faster than being told there's a project due tomorrow and your kid needs poster board or construction paper. When school supplies go on sale, stock up on poster board and tri-folds (store these large items flat under a bed or sofa until needed), construction paper, glitter, markers, stencils, glue sticks and all other project essentials. Combined with the calendar system (when is that report due?!), projects shouldn't take you by surprise.
#5 Create a Paper Management System
Although it's tempting, you shouldn't keep every single paper your child accumulates. Hang on to just a couple a week - great drawings, funny writing assignments, or projects that they put lots of thought, effort and personalization into, and toss the rest. Really, it's ok. Dedicate a small box or bin on a shelf for keepsake papers. Anything from a large pizza box to an archival canvas box works. For paper that needs to be signed and sent back (with or without money), complete immediately and send back the next day so there's no chance they'll get lost. (Remember the "if you can do it in 60 sec, do it NOW " rule!) At year end, go back through the year's papers, pull out what's golden and let the rest go (there will be more next year!). Store what you keep in a box or slide into sleeve protectors in a binder and shelve it. Label by year and child's name.
#6 Teach your child how to use an academic planner
Don't have them rely on memory! We all forget dates when things are due, and activities we have planned. And although a notebook might be tempting, just writing things down doesn't help your child see how assignments fit into the big picture....That book report is due the morning after a big football game? Better plan ahead! Have your child use a planner to keep track of when homework is due and what their weekly schedule is so they can plan for both schoolwork AND activities.
For more information, check out our blog on Organizing for School Success!
Organized Systems and Productive Habits that Work www.itssimplyplaced.com