Back To School is big business.  The United States Census Bureau reports that 77 million students will be going back to school this fall.  Consequently, $7.4 billion is spent at family clothing stores during the month of August, second only to December in gross sales.  The first day of school is a fashion show noting who has the best sneakers or the nicest backpack. 

As parents, we give our children the physical tools for Back to School…binders, spirals, pencils, paper, tissue, etc but do we give them the tools of know how to organize all of the papers, dates, and data – all while amidst a social hurricane?  Here are some ways to help your children be better prepared for school…

Homework Central

Quite possibly the most important thing you can provide your child is a suitable place to complete homework.  It can be as elaborate or simple as suits your family yet it should have a desk, computer, chair, and flat surface on which to write.  Establish the homework area before school starts and stock it with a toolbox containing necessary supplies. 

Bedtimes and Scheduling

If your student(s) did not have summer assignments, they may need some help getting back into the swing of things.  Start early and gradually make bedtime more appropriate and assign some reviewing type tasks to get their brains back in the swing.

Plan Before You Shop

Instead of running out to the store to buy ALL of the necessary supplies, buy only what they will need to get started: backpack, binder, paper, folder or two, and pens/pencils.  Most teachers will give specific supplies on the first day and those can be purchased later.  If you would prefer to plan ahead, buy only things you are certain they will need.

Same thing goes with school clothes.  I wouldn’t break the bank in August buying a winter coat and cords when it is 90 degrees until October.  Start with shorts and shirts and gradually add more throughout the year.  This will also help your student(s) have nice clothes toward the end of the school year too. 

Have students try on clothes from last year.  If they still fit – great!  Teach him or her to pair older items with newer ones for a fresh look.

Implement a Family Calendar

Create a family calendar, somewhere near Homework Central is ideal.  Assign a color to each student in the home and have them write assignments and practices on the calendar.  This is great for mom if they need reminding to complete a long-term project.  Encouraging the student(s) to write their own assignments is teaching them a valuable lesson!

Morning Central

Just as you now have a Homework Central, it is also very important to have Morning Central…the place where everything needed for the following day is staged and ready to go.  Before going to bed, make sure everything is ready for morning in a location near the exit to be used by the family.  This could be a coat rack, pegs in the wall, or buckets lined up on the floor.  Make sure clothes are picked out and lunches packed the night before.  This teaches your student(s) the importance of planning ahead.

Color Code Classes

By having your student color-code classes (favorite color for favorite subject, etc) it helps them keep everything together.  When they can see at a glance what class it is for, the time spent searching will be greatly reduced. 

If your student(s) struggle with folders, consider clear plastic document pockets.  Visual learners need to see their items to associate the contents…which might explain why all of the papers end up crammed in the bottom of the backpack.

These are some ideas to hopefully help you get a handle on Back to School.  Feel free to modify them to fit your family.

Have a Neat day!
Jennifer Snyder, CPO
Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts
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