It’s back-to-school time, and parents are scrambling to pick up the crayons, notebooks, folders, calculators, rulers and boxes of Kleenex that will help ensure a successful year for their children. This is also the time of year that prompts moms and dads to swear that this year will be the year that is different: The kids are going to get their stuff and their schedules under control, once and for all!
Don’t let this declaration become as fruitless as a typical New Year’s resolution! There are some tools that you can buy that will give your kids a leg up when it comes to organizing their materials, their time, and their lives. Obviously, you’ll need to do more of the preparation for smaller children, while middle- and high-schoolers can take more responsibility for their own belongings and schedules. Here are some ideas:
For smoother mornings, get your elementary-school-aged child an alarm clock and teach her how to use it. Depending on you or an older sibling to wake her up can cause a child to procrastinate; she knows you’ll be back to make her get up eventually. Handing her the responsibility by giving her her own alarm clock puts the ball in her court. Sure, she can press the “snooze” button, but if she does it too many times, she’ll be late, and will have to reap the consequences. Another time-tracker for a child in middle school and up is a weekly calendar. A family calendar in a centralized location (like the refrigerator) is great for you, but she should have her own pocket- or purse-sized planner to help her keep track of what assignments are due when, whose birthday party is coming up on which weekend and when her soccer games are. She should be responsible for putting the items that you need to know about on the family calendar; if she forgets, you might not be available to arrange transportation!
A Place (and Time) for Homework
Between school and bedtime are lots of activities: phone calls with friends, sports practice, a shower, television time, snack time, dinnertime... and the list goes on. Homework needs to have a dedicated time slot to avoid it getting shuffled right out of the priority list for the evening. Whether your child does his homework immediately upon coming in from the bus, or saves it until after dinner, make this an unbreakable part of his routine. To keep him on track, don’t be afraid to utilize technology: have him set a reminder on his phone, for example. Your child also needs a place to do his work. Whether it’s the dining room table, a desk in the corner of your office or sprawled out on his bed, he should have easy access to everything he needs (pens, pencils, paper, a dictionary, etc.). Get him a caddy to fill with materials if he’s not working at his own desk with shelves for his writing implements and other necessities.
Accessories to Make Life Easier
Help your child find a spot to keep her clothes for the next day. Before she goes to bed at night, she should decide what she’s wearing, including belts, earrings, shoes, a purse and whatever else she needs for a complete outfit. Keeping these accessory items together in a basket or on a chair makes getting dressed a breeze. Magnets for her locker at school can be helpful. She can hang up a copy of her class schedule, notes regarding when assignments are due, and reminders of things she needs to bring home. Her own mirror in her room can make bathroom routines run more smoothly when a bathroom is shared with other family members.
Buying some tools that will help your child stay organized should be part of your back-to-school tradition. Each year, think of ways to streamline another routine or process, and make notes to help make the next school year run more smoothly. Have a simple and pleasant transition back to school!
Author Resource: Michelle Kulas writes about Tools for Back-to-School Success, for Clever Closets. Clever Closets is an affordable and reliable Company for Kids Closets Troy MI.