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.