Ask the Organizer: How Can I Get My Kids Organized for Going Back to School?

Professional organizer Kelly Humiston, owner of New Leaf Organizing Service, provides organizing tips to make the transition back to school easier on everyone.



Q.  As thrilled as I am that school begins soon for my two children, I’m dreading the return to chaotic mornings and stressful afternoons and evenings.  Do you have any organizing tips for parents of school-age kids?

A.  Absolutely!  Regardless of whether your children are entering kindergarten or high school, being organized will make school (not to mention home life) much easier and therefore more pleasant for them. I often say that being organized is a life skill everyone needs to master, and there’s no better time to start than in childhood. Think of it as a lesson in self-care that will last a lifetime.

So, in between dashing in and out of stores and taking advantage of Connecticut’s tax free week this week (August 19–25), consider the following tips for getting your children organized for the upcoming school year:

  • A smooth and stress-free morning is almost always the result of planning the night before.  Each evening, have your children lay out the clothes that will be worn the next day.  Evening is also a good time to assemble the elements of your children’s lunch and snacks for the next day (keeping them in the refrigerator overnight, of course) as well as to gather all needed papers and books and put them in each child’s backpack.  Another tip for a smooth morning is to set the breakfast table the night before with cereal boxes, bowls, silverware, and glasses.  Also, consider creating a Word template on your computer so that writing absence/early dismissal letters or e-mail messages is quick and easy for Mom or Dad.
  • Establish a family “command central” location (perhaps in the kitchen or mud room) to handle papers and schedules.  One of the best ways to keep track of a busy family’s comings and goings is with an erasable whiteboard that has a large generic monthly grid that lets you to write in everyone’s daily, weekly, and monthly events and obligations.  Placing an “inbox” in this spot creates a central place for kids to deposit permission slips, forms, flyers, and notes in each afternoon.
  • Be sure each child has a small notebook, folder, or assignment pad to keep track of each day’s homework and other projects that he or she must complete.  If your child’s teachers write homework assignments on the chalkboard toward the end of class and your child has difficulty copying it all down in time, ask them if your child can take a photograph of the board with his or her cell phone.
  • Each child needs a quiet, well-lit place free of distractions and stocked with needed supplies to do homework.  Consider buying each child his or her own color of folders and supplies.  If you want to go even further in encouraging organizing, buy a family label maker (most models cost less than $30) so your children can label their school supplies (and most likely their books, games, and the dog and the hamster ...).

How about you, readers?  What tips and techniques do you employ to get your children organized for each new school year?

If you would like more tips or the help of a professional organizer, consider contacting New Leaf Organizing Service at www.newleaforganizingservice.com or at (203) 450-1099.  We organize things big and small — once and for all.

Have an organizing question you’d like answered?  Feel free to submit it on Patch.com, via the Comments function, or e-mail it to Kelly directly at kelly@newleaforganizingservice.com.

Coming next time:  Organizing tips for job seekers?

© 2012 New Leaf Organizing Service. All rights reserved.

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