Back to school happens every year and while my boys are grown, I love the school photos on social media. And whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out with a little one in kindergarten, chances are you'll experience a whole new level of clutter. From one seasoned parent, here are some back to school tips to tackle organization early. The sooner you instill respect for organization in your youngsters, the more likely you can keep things under control.
Before jumping into organization tips for living with school age kids, let me share a personal story and more important message. The Internet was new when my boys were in school and as parents, we were just learning how to navigate the world wide web. In fact I didn't really learn to use the web until I left IBM because heck, I started using email in 1983 (the Internet arrived in the early '90s).
Both boys had desks in their bedrooms. The family computer was in the family room. We caught one of the boys on a porn site one night which caused several discussions. There were no tools to control access and while we stopped most of the porn (it's real folks, so don't ignore the problem), we didn't catch when he migrated to chat rooms.
For those who want to learn more about picking the right homework location for your children, here are some great articles:
- Where is the Best Place to Study & Do Homework? – explains how everyone processes information differently, so you need to involve your children in the decision. They also say “… the bedroom never works for any student”.
- In Where Should My Child Do Homework?, Diana Grycan, a seasoned teacher said “Homework to be done on the computer should be done in a public place (like the kitchen) if the children were allowed to use the web, because that needs to be monitored for safety reasons. I actually had some children figure out ways around the parental controls at the ripe old age of 7!”
- Here is LearnVest's article, Create the Perfect Homework Spot in 3 Steps. They talk about proximity to adults, supplies and comfort so you might want to click through for details.
To keep supplies organized, another back to school tip is to use portable carriers so you can put homework supplies away each day. And here's what LearnVest suggests you put in a “homework kit” – pencils and a pencil sharpener, pens, a ruled notebook, crayons, colored pencils and markers, index cards, a highlighter, post-it notes or notepad and a calculator (unless they've got a smart phone).
Clear Tote for Art Supplies, Crafts, Crayons and Sewing Clear Tote for School: Scissors, Pens, Pencils, Notepads, Tape & MoreAssorted Bendi-Bins (6 Pack) with Handles, to Keep Kids Stuff OrganizedModular Latching Boxes that Snap Together (6 Pack)
You might be exhausted (it happens to all parents). Still it's important for parents to remember they share equally in the responsibility to educate their children. That includes teaching them how to use technology in safe and appropriate ways. It also means talking about values, feelings and many communication skills that are disappearing when all our kids do is text.
Back to School Tips – Identify Your Organization Risk Zones
Every home has them. Risk zones are spots where clutter tends to build up, regardless of how organized the rest of the house happens to be. Finding yours lets you hone in and determine why they need attention – why everyone seems to leave stuff lying around. (Read: Organized Home Tips for Cluttered Houses)
A risk zone might be the spot just inside the front door where jackets and backpacks land. Or it might be the kitchen table with homework papers strewn about. Bathrooms are definite risk zones in most houses, and kids bedrooms also make the list for most families. For every risk zone, you've found a location of convenience. Your next job is to make convenience tidier.
Back to School Tips – Make Organization Simple
Once you've identified your risk zones, you can plan your attack. The enemy of disorganization isn't organization; it's simplicity. The goal is to make putting things away easier (or at least no more difficult) than leaving them lying around. If backpacks land on the floor, hanging them from a row of hooks on the wall takes about the same amount of effort.
When you think about simplicity, remember that it has to be simple for a child. Kid-friendly cubbies for shoes and other belongings, hooks for coats and backpacks, and drawers and bins for smaller things that easily get lost make keeping things tidy something a kid can handle. (Read: Time for a Makeover? Mudroom Organization Ideas)
If your organization method is too complicated or out of reach, you'll likely still do all of the tidying up yourself.
Back to School Tips from Organization Pros
Organized Home recommends creating a central calendar for keeping track of everyone's events. From after-school activities to history report due dates, a large wall calendar helps you see everything at a glance. More mothers are creating a school lunch and snack preparation work station that holds everything from sandwich bags and plastic forks to fruit and candy surprises.
Experienced mothers know that it makes sense to embrace the “dumping ground” and rather than try to eliminate it, focus on making it tidier (Read: 5 Organizing Tips to Avoid Clutter) Where kids tend to drop off their belongings, give them an organized space to catch it. Cubbies and hooks work perfectly, and bedroom closet organizers for each kid can help reduce frustration in the mornings.
Organization doesn't have to be rigid. A color-coded clothes closet might look great in the beginning. But soon enough the yellows are mixed with the blues, and the reds are all over the floor. It's not about being perfect, because the best tidy homes aren't museums. They just have smart organization methods.
Organization is a personal thing, but everyone has tricks and tips of their own. How do you plan to keep everything organized once the new school year begins? We would love to hear your ideas and learn which tricks work best in your home.