Organizing for back to school

Cute pails filled with school supplies

Cropped image. Nick Amoscato, Flickr. CC license.

Back-to-school shopping has taken over the seasonal section of all department stores and your children probably have all their supplies ready to go. Now here are some tips to help with organizing for back to school.

  • Get all necessary school items … and then some

Hanging school supplies storage

Don’t buy only the items on your children school supply list. Instead, plan to buy two or three extra of each item so when your child needs a new highlighter mid-year or poster board for a project, you don’t have to rush to the store at 8:00 at night. Keep these supplies out of sight so your kiddos don’t see them and want to use them just because they’re new; try a nice shoe storage rack in a closet or in a basement.

  • Have a designated homework station

This is a place where your child can sit down and focus on school work. If possible, it should be away from distractions — like siblings, TV or electronics — and with their backpack and needed supplies close by. This can be something as simple as a special spot at the kitchen table or a mobile homework tray they can take into a living room. Be creative!

  • Have a snack station/lunch refill station

Container with healthy snack options.

When your kiddos come home from school and are starving (because they only ate 3 hours ago and need something before dinner), designate a snack box for parent-approved snacks. Limit the number of snacks your child can take at a time. Let the kids have their own shopping list when going to the grocery store for refilling this box. You can also take from this stockpile when packing lunches the night before school to make things easier so you aren’t scouring the cupboards for something to pack.

  • Designate a spot for important papers

Hanging "important papers" area

Have somewhere designated in your home (e.g., a file folder, an individual clipboard for each kiddos, a collective bin by the door, etc.) for important papers to be dropped off by your children, but also for them to grab before school. This could be papers that need to be reviewed and signed, money for lunches, field trip permission slips, and so forth. Basically, have somewhere to keep these papers so your child isn’t asking you where that permission slip is when the school bus comes!

  • Daily reminders list

This is my favorite. Keep a chalkboard or whiteboard by the door that includes any daily reminders. For example, “Remember that we have soccer today instead of Thursday this week” or “Remember to grab your ___ for school” so hopefully you don’t walk out the door forgetting these last-minute details!

  • Return-to-sender box

Have a return box where you can put library books that need to be returned, friend items that were left at your house, and so forth. Anything that doesn’t normally have a spot at your house can be found there.

Lastly, here are some general tips to keep you sane:

  • Create a routine. This will keep you sane in the rush of projects, field trips, extracurricular activities, friend sleepovers, and school madness!
  • Plan ahead as much as you possibly can.
  • There will be bumps in the road and surprises. Hopefully if you do these first two tips, the surprise late night projects will be the exception and not the norm.

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of one with another on the way.

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