For most households, the chaos of ‘Back to School’ can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be! Getting organized is the key to a low-stress school year. At Simple World Enterprises, we are organizational fanatics, or ‘organizational freaks’, as we have been called. Let us share some of our best tips on how to plan for a great school year!
The Importance Of Sticking To A Routine
Getting organized equips your kids with skills that will help them succeed in school as well as later on in life when their responsibilities get more complicated. The earlier you start, the better. This is the time to cement good habits.
Between getting ready for school and making sure there’s enough time for breakfast, early mornings can be quite a challenge.
Like most of us, kids do best when sticking to a schedule, so it’s a good idea to set specific steps that your kids can follow in the same order, at the same time, each day. Make a schedule and place it on your family bulletin board, like the fridge, so they know what they have to accomplish and when. The morning routine can be as simple as making the bed, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, feeding the dog, and grabbing their lunch before heading out the door.
NOTE: It might seem obvious to say, but make sure you schedule enough time for breakfast so that your kids have enough time to eat. It’s surprising how many kids are sent to school without having eaten. Sugary cereals are a bad way to start, because sugar levels spike and drop drastically, making it hard for your child to stay alert in class. Make sure you include a little snack in their lunch to keep their blood sugar levels up in-between breakfast and lunch; your child will have a happier and more even day and will be able to endure physical education without falling behind.
Each day should have a specific time reserved for studying and doing homework. Include your child in choosing which time this should be. As a general rule, children do best if they are given time to unwind after school, so make sure to take that into account. If you can assist in helping your child get started on their homework by quickly going through it with them first, it may help get the ball rolling easier for them.
Every evening, set aside some time with your kids to prepare for the following day – even if it’s only 15 minutes cleaning up the house. Put on some music and set a timer to make it more fun and stay focused. Make it a team effort: while the children are cleaning up their rooms and preparing their lunches for the next day, you can wash dishes. Also make sure to lay out clothes for the next day. This will make mornings smoother, and will ensure everyone always has clean underwear.
At the end of the night, you an run a bath for your child to help calm them down for a good night's rest.
The Family Calendar
You likely already have a calendar for yourself, but have you considered having a family calendar? Having a family calendar helps everyone keep track of each other’s activities, which in turn avoids overlap and double booking events. You can also prebook carpooling if you are unable to get your child to an event.
Make sure all your family’s appointments, commitments and activities are written down on the family calendar – this includes your child’s daily schedule. Include days off from school and major events like birthdays. This way, nothing gets forgotten.
While each family has different ideas about how busy children should be, take care not to over-schedule yourself or your kids. Set aside some time for rest in your daily schedule.
Color code your calendar so that each family member can easily see what their commitments are for the week.
Create A Family Command Center
The school year often comes with a lot of paperwork, from report cards to school notices to the myriad of forms you’re required to sign. The family command center keeps everyone in sync and gives you a way to handle incoming paperwork while still minimizing clutter.
Set up a space to put all incoming paperwork, and review its contents regularly. For many of us, the most convenient place to install the family command center would be the kitchen. Separate the papers you want to keep, and recycle the rest. Create a folder for each school year, and file away all the papers you want to keep.
Shameless plug: OctoClipTM is a great way to hang up calendars and daily schedules while still keeping walls neat. You can use the refrigerator as your main hub, or you can use the OctoClipTM Anywhere Disc to hang your OctoClipTM and schedule in any location you desire. A good tip is to make sure to keep your family calendar in your family command center as well. The OctoClipTM is perfectly designed for this task. It can hold up to 2.5 pounds of files, folders, and calendars.
Checklists And To-dos
It is generally better to schedule your to-dos. Your kids will be able to accomplish more of their tasks if they set aside time for scheduling their to-do’s on the calendar – it is a stronger commitment than keeping a list alone. Still, it is a good idea to keep a checklist of assignments and chores, so they know what tasks they need to schedule. Help your child get into the habit of keeping a checklist by giving them a small notebook dedicated to keeping this checklist. Plus, crossing completed items off the list will give your child a sense of accomplishment that will help them stay motivated.
Before beginning each homework session, have your child write down their assignments in the order they need to be done. Start with an assignment that is not too difficult, but try not to leave the hardest assignment for last either, as they may be too tired to push through.
Make sure to regularly remind your child to fill out calendar dates and schedules. In fact, you should schedule a time to do these things to make sure they get done.
Make A Homework Station
Try to get your kids to study in the same place every day. Set up a designated space for homework to help them get in the mindset of getting things done. Let your kids choose where they would like this space to be – it could be as simple as a desk and a chair. Some children prefer to work in busier areas – such as the kitchen – while others need a quieter location.
Keep all the supplies your kids will need at the homework station. These include pencils, sharpeners, pens, paper, white-out, scissors and glue. This will help reduce interruptions.
Shameless plug: Use our OctoClip Anywhere Disc in your child's homework station area. Then hang an OctoClipTM and create a hanging caddy to organize your school supplies. The clips on the OctoClipTM will hold baby food jars so you can organize your erasers, paper-clips, pens and more!
Make mornings run smoothly by creating a designated hair station. Place hair clips, hair ties, hair gel, dry shampoo and spray on conditioner so they are easier to find in the morning. This will help reduce hair chaos, especially if you have more than one girl in your family. Never run out of hair bands by ensuring you keep a good supply on hand, and keep them in the same location. Don’t forget to add shampoo and hair accessories to your grocery list!
Help your child sort through school bags and notebooks regularly. Place old papers and exams in a file at home so they can be reviewed later...and schedule when ‘later’ is. Use dividers to separate class notes. Create a color coding system for notebooks so it will be easier to prepare for tests and quizzes. Have your child regularly separate items that need to be signed by parents.
Cut Down On The Lunch And Snack-Time Hassle
Get kids involved in packing lunch boxes. This will help teach them kitchen skills that will be useful later in life. It’s a great idea to come up with lunch ideas together so you can give your kids some guidance about eating healthy. Alternatively, you can make the main part of their lunch and have them add a snack of their choice to their lunch box.
It’s a good idea to prepare the next day’s lunch right after dinner to save time during mornings. Plus, the food is already out! You don’t have to prepare the whole lunch; getting just part of tomorrow’s lunch ready the night before can save you a lot of time the next morning.
Organize your pantry to optimize snacking. Place your kid’s favorite snacks in an easily accessible area, and get your kid in the habit of grabbing their own snacks when they get home from school. Make sure to add fruit so they have a healthy option as well.
The School Locker
Another important detail that often gets overlooked, is your child's locker. As mentioned, school supplies and designs have come a long way. There are all sorts of organizational items you can buy to help your child keep things tidy. It used to be that everything ended up in a big pile at the bottom of a locker, but now, you can purchase shelving, hanging sorters for cell phones, sunglasses, laptops, gym shoes, and more. There is even specialty locker wallpaper for extra personalization! The more spaces for putting items, the easier life will be for your young student. Depending on your child’s age, if you can visit your child’s school locker once per month and help them with a clean-up, that would be beneficial. You may find that an important paper has accidentally found its way into an old lunch bag at the bottom of the locker.
Shameless plug: Metal lockers are the ideal place for several OctoClipsTM to be used! Since they can hold heavy items, your child can clip staplers, pencil cases, calculators, scissors, geometry sets, and cell phones. You can hang caddies to put extra pencils, erasers, rulers, and staple removers. We also off lots of fun emoji designs to help keep your child’s locker happy and fun!
The School Supply List
The very first tip is to attach the school supply list to your refrigerator’s OctoClipTM as soon as you get it at the end of the school year! Summer will fly by, and before you know it, you will be wondering where you put that list! Usually, your child brings one home from school, but if it never made it home and you can’t obtain one through the school during summer, you can try searching for an online supply list for your school district. Online sites will ask for your zip code and ask which grade your child is entering, and then offer up a list.
Some school supplies start coming out in stores in July, but August is the month when the vast majority comes. You will be lured in by a few cheap items, but will end up paying premium prices for binders and books. But, the benefit of shopping early is that you will be sure to get what you need. Another benefit, is that if you have kids who need laptops for school, there is no better time to get them! Competition between stores is at an all time high, and you will potentially save 100’s of dollars.
In general, start shopping for school supplies as early as possible! Never leave it to the last few days before school starts. Often the hard-to-find necessities run thin and you may not get certain sizes of notebooks that your child needs. You will be frustrated, and will likely ask yourself, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”. All of best designs will have been snapped up as well. If you shop early with your children and let them pick the design theme they want, it will really help with morale, and will also help them look forward to the next school year. Backpacks and locker supplies have really come a long way design-wise, and kids can express themselves by picking out designs that connect with them. They are more likely to use these items and will help with school organization.
Pro Tip: September offers sales, as the retailers want to move school supplies out.
So, while you are online looking for this year’s school supplies, take a look at next year’s supply list since your child will be moving into a higher grade. You will see what is needed, and can snap several items up cheap in preparation for next year!
Do you have any back to school tips of your own? Have you tried any of the tips mentioned here? We’d love to hear from you!