Top 5 Things To Do This Week To Get Organized for School (2)

Good grades start at home
Good grades start at home

Don’t wait until school starts to think about getting organized. Do you remember how you felt during the last school year? Is there anything you would like to change for this year? Let’s reduce the stress and make sure you start this school year off organized and ready for anything.

1. Since this is the last week before most schools start, plan a special “end of summer” celebration. It could be a special all day fun event, or a dinner out. Whatever it is, celebrate the end of the summer and the beginning of a great school year. Talk with your child about the positives of going back to school and be honest with them if they have concerns. Having fun together is a great way to keep those communication lines open.

2. Hold a family meeting. A family meeting allows everyone to voice their opinions and concerns in a nonjudgmental setting. You might want to have an agenda the first time so that you stay on track but some topics typically covered are: responsibilities, routines for school, sport schedules, what’s coming up and any complaints anyone might have. Let only one person speak at a time and let the youngest be in charge now and then. Use this time for updating the calendar for the next week and be sure kids put their responsibilities into their agendas each week as well.

3. Use one family calendar. Whether you prefer electronic or paper calendars there should be one family (paper or whiteboard) calendar that is posted where all can see it. Update it during your family meetings to show each family member’s schedule in a different color. This teaches kids the concept of planning and also provides an easy visual for them to check each day to see what is coming up. They should have the same information in their own agenda/planner that is given to them by the school. This helps them to know how to plan their homework time in between soccer practice and a dentist appointment, be prepared for gym day and is the first step towards understanding time management.

4. Handling paper can be a challenge for anyone, but if you have a child or children in school it can easily get out of control. Have you ever “misplaced” an important form that needed to go back to school? This year set up a paper management system. Simply put, create an “in box” for each member of the family and have your child put papers that need to be signed, seen or read into your in box. Then when you have signed them, place them in your child’s inbox where they will pick them up and put them in their backpack each evening. If all papers go in one spot then they are not being moved for dinner (if left on the table) or piled in with the mail, etc. There are magnetic pockets, wood, metal or fabric wall pockets that hang or desk or counter top models that stack, find something that works for you and has at least a pocket for each family member. If there is an extra pocket, you can use it for incoming mail. Having one place for all mail to land until you have time to deal with it, will save you time and energy daily.

5. Create a launch pad and launch into an organized day. Do you leave things near the door so you will remember to take them with you? Then you are already using a launch pad or drop zone. If you create a specific place that is large enough for all family members, then everyone can start their day organized. I recommend packing backpacks, gym clothes and whatever else can be ready ahead of time (your stuff too) and placing them each evening, in the launch pad area. It makes it so much easier if everything your children need is all ready to go rather than trying to get them to get things together when they are half asleep. Give it a try and have a calmer morning.

If you have found these tips helpful and would like your child to receive daily email organization and study skills strategies to help them get and stay organized this year, then check out our e-learning course called End Homework Hassle and help your child start this year off organized and in control.

Family Calendars

How do I keep track of my kid’s schedule and my own? Having one main calendar for the entire family to use to post appointments, practices, project due dates, and special events helps avoid overbooking and/or missed appointments. Let each family member use a different color marker or post it note on the calendar. Place the calendar in an obvious place so that it is frequently seen. I recommend the refrigerator. Yes, it’s nice to have all those pictures on there, but not if you are missing appointments and forgetting things.

Pick one day a week to review and plan the upcoming week with the family. Sundays work well for many busy families. If you use an electronic or paper planner also, then be sure to input the new information so that you are up to date. For students, make sure they enter their information directly into their school agenda. Ordinarily I suggest one calendar, but if multiple people are involved then there needs to be something that is constantly visible to all. Click on the calendar link above to see various sizes of planet safe planners that are wet, dry and sticky note compatible. Or simply print out a month or a week at a time calendar from Microsoft Word or Publisher. For those that prefer an electronic version, try a shared Google calendar provided everyone has easy access to it.

Six Tips for Making the Most of Study Time

September is back to school and that means studying and homework for many children and some adults.  To start the year off on a positive note here are six tips for making the most of your study time:

1. Clear off the top of the desk to provide enough space to fit an open book and a notebook. Remove unnecessary objects to eliminate visual distractions.

2. Keep all frequently used supplies within arm’s reach either on top of the desk in an organized holder or in a nearby drawer. Keep pencils sharpened and ready to go.

3. Set a daily study time and make it a habit.

4. Use a quiet timer (analog for young children or use a time timer) and set it for 30 minutes of working time. Then take a 5-10 minute break. This helps the brain process information, maintains motivation and improves the ability to focus. Most adults can only focus for 90 minutes without a break.  Work smarter not harder.

5.  Check to be sure the desk and chair are ergonomically correct for the user. If a child’s feet do not touch the floor when the chair is raised to the appropriate height then add a footstool for support. Also be sure to check for proper lighting to reduce eye strain. The light should not be coming from behind as it casts a shadow.

6.  When all work is completed be sure to put back all items that were used. Put books and homework into backpack or briefcase and set it by the door. By cleaning off the desk and putting everything away, you are completing the task, saving time in the morning and preparing your work space for the next day. Happy Studying!

NEW! Learning Logistics Class starts October 18th. Improve your grades and learn easy strategies for tackling your homework efficiently. Call (781) 659-0513 or email

Quick tip: Create “in” boxes for each member of the family. Use baskets, bins or magnetic magazine holders. Children can put papers that need to be seen or signed in the parent’s box. After reviewing, the parent can place them into the student’s box. Be sure the student empties the box each evening and puts everything needed into the backpack to return to school. Placing the backpack (fully loaded) near the door used will reduce the last minute morning rush.

Organizing the Backpack

            Did you catch me on Channel 7 ( on Friday, the 11th? Here’s what they didn’t tell you about organizing the backpack.

            Children need a backpack, supplies and a study area that are organized to keep them on track with their school work. The backpack is often seen as a big black hole where things seem to disappear. Help your child organize it by naming each pocket and deciding what belongs there. Create a little “map” of what the inside looks like and use it to see where things belong until it becomes a habit or label each pocket. Check to make sure the backpack opens wide and that the zipper moves smoothly.

            Using clear poly folders with bright colored end tabs makes it easy to find homework papers. Teach your child to put books and notebooks in according to size. It is very easy for a small book to get lost between two big notebooks. Color code subjects so that notebooks and textbooks are easy to locate. Use zippered pockets in bright colors to keep little things from getting lost at the bottom of the bag and clip it to the key ring.

            Check the fit of the backpack and the weight when packed. It should not hang more than four inches below the waistline when both padded straps are used. The weight of the backpack fully packed for homework (which does not mean everything in the locker) should not exceed 10% of the child’s weight. 

            Each week sit with your child while they clean out and “reorganize” the backpack. Sundays are a great day for doing this as you prepare for the “organized” week ahead.

New! Learning Logistics class is starting October 19th at the Hingham Community Center. This four week class teaches your child the homework and study skills, time management and organization skills he/she needs to succeed.


Conquering the Summer Reading List

“Connecting a child and a book is like dropping a pebble into the water. You never know where the ripples will end up.” Ronald Jobe


Summer’s ½ over! That means along with camp, sports practice and summer fun, children and teens also need to find time for reading. Many schools provide a summer reading list beginning in the fourth or fifth grades requesting that students read two or more books from a selection. Requirements vary from one to five books and students may be asked to either write something about each book or take a “test” on them once they are back at school.

If your child has a list and has not started it here is a way to create a plan and avoid the last minute rush. First figure out how many books are required and either borrow them from the library or buy them. Look at the calendar and divide the number of weeks left by the number of pages in the book. For example, if you have two books to read and each is 200 pages then your child would need to read 400/4=100 pages a week (based on 4 weeks left of summer) to finish both books. That would mean reading about 20 pages a day five days a week. A reality check with a calendar and the books required will help your child develop a better sense of time management. Or you can divide the book by its chapters and figure out how long it would take to finish if your child read a chapter a day.

To encourage children to read, there is no better way than to model it yourself. Set aside 20-30 minutes of reading time for the whole family each day. Find a time that works for your family such as, after a meal, late afternoon, or before bedtime. Summer is a great time for you to get some reading in too. Nothing beats reading a good book in the shade while sipping an iced tea. Sharing and discussing books is a great way to keep those communication lines open. What are you reading?

Want to end the homework hassle? Our Learning Logistics class, is a four week class that teaches students study skills, time management and organization skills. For more information go to: Next class starts October 19th at the Hingham Community Center.













First step to organizing your kids for summer fun

The school year is nearing its end and everyone is excited about the coming of summer. Want to make sure the summer goes smoothly? Here is the first of three tips that will help you and your children enjoy the summer.

The first step is to be prepared. What does that mean? For safety and for fun it is important that all the equipment (“fun” stuff) be in good working condition. The “fun” stuff consists of toys, games, beach and sports equipment that will be used this summer. Together with your child or children, take a look through all their “fun” stuff and determine if it is still wanted or needed, used and played with and determine if it is in good working condition. Repair anything that needs it and be sure to check brakes and tires for safety. Also check your supplies including chalk, bubble stuff and birdies for the badminton set.

Next, determine if the item is stored in the best possible spot. It should be easy enough for your child to get and to put away by themselves. You probably don’t want to be called to the garage every time they want to ride their bike and you don’t want to be tripping over toys that have been left out. Encourage children to put things back when they are done or at the end of the day. If you need to move some things around I would suggest grouping things that go together in the same area. In organizer speak that is group like with like (helmets near the bikes, all water and sand toys for the beach together, etc.) Don’t forget to check the outside play equipment as well. The play structures can have sharp edges, loose screws or fraying rope swings. Check the sand in the sandbox too. By being sure all play equipment is ready for action the kids will be safer but accidents can still happen so keep bandaids and ice packs ready as kids will be kids.

PS For adults, you can use this time to get all the yard and garden tools in top working condition. Think of how much you can get done if there is plenty of string in the weedwacker, or the clippers are sharpened. Ah, the joys of summer. Enjoy!