Back To School

The start of a new school year is like a fresh box of crayons – full of possibilities.  Don’t become overwhelmed, use this time as an opportunity to become organized by creating a place for everything, and keeping the clutter to a minimum.

Mornings can be especially chaotic in most households with school-aged children. Consider handling as many daytime preparations as possible the night before, and encourage your children to think ahead. They can lay out clothes, pack backpacks, and even plan lunches. Reorganize their bedrooms to help them with organization.  Start by cleaning out their closet, and for each new item they buy for back to school have them pass on something old that they have outgrown to a younger sibling or friend, or bring to a charity or thrift store.  Make the most of closet space with adjustable shelving systems, shoe racks, smooth sliding drawers and slide-out bins. It is also helpful to provide them with lots of shelving in their bedrooms so they can store books, trophies, and other prized possessions.

Designate a homework spot. Decide on the best spot in your home to set up homework central. Take into consideration how involved you need to be with homework and your child’s style. Does he focus better with people around or in a private setting? Is he better suited to sit at a desk or curled up in a favorite chair with a laptop cart? Once you have a place picked out, gather together handy homework tools and supplies into a nearby bin, drawer or cabinet. Stock up on age-appropriate supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, paper, crayons, markers, a ruler, dictionary, calculator and a pencil sharpener.

Develop a plan to tackle school paperwork. Make a habit of sorting through children’s backpacks with them the same day they come home. Allot time after school, when you arrive home from work, or after dinner, depending on your family’s schedule. Use a tiered letter sorter or filing system with designated slots for each child’s papers, and an “A.S.A.P.” space for teachers’ notes, permission slips and anything else that requires immediate attention. For schoolwork and artwork you want to keep, try a two-step approach. First, purge unwanted items as soon as they come in the door. Collect the possible keepers in a storage bin that allows for easy separation by child or project type. Go through stored items at regular intervals, perhaps once a month to continue to pare down.

Where do you want the kids to leave their shoes, backpacks, sports equipment and musical instruments after school?   Too often, the entryway is where everyone in the family dumps their belongings when they come home. But you can make this space welcoming and orderly and functional by using some basic design elements and organization strategies.  Organize your foyer closet with smart storage solutions so it’s equipped for every coat and accessory. Designate a spot for everyone’s gear, such as bins under a bench or storage lockers if you have the space in a mudroom.  Be sure to put a sturdy doormat on the outside and inside to catch most of the dirt before it is tracked into the house.

Create a communication hub, often the kitchen is the most convenient location. Include the family calendar, a chalk or bulletin board for posting messages and reminders, a binder for key documents, colored markers, pens and pencils. Online calendars are another great tool for busy families as they can be easy to access when you are out and about from mobile phones and other computers. (ARA)

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