Get organized and ready for back-to-school

Do you have a kid who recently headed back to school? Are things possibly not going as smoothly as planned? The following words of advice might not work for everyone, but these are a few things my wife and I have done to make the return to school less stressful for ourselves and the kids.

First, you’ve got to ease into it. If your kids are like mine, they’ve become accustom to staying up late, sleeping even later and all but ignoring math, English, and science. Giving up all that goodness cold turkey is no fun, so make it less of a jolt. For example, we start reeling in the bed time each night by about 20 minutes for a week prior to the start of school. And, we don’t let down our guard over the weekends — it can be easy to slip into summer habits and make Monday mornings difficult.

Also, as much as I hate to say it, it’s time to wrap up leisurely meals on the deck. September typically means extracurricular activities resume as well, so dinner must occur at a regular time if you’e going to get out the door and back again in time for ballet, soccer and what have you.

Next, designate a landing spot for all their stuff. I wrote about this last year and we’re definitely doing it again this year. Find a home for backpacks, snack bags, hand-outs and all of the stuff that has a tendency to magically disappear between the car and the house. Speaking of bags …

Make sure snack bags, cold packs and the like are in good working order. Last year, we dealt with the most poorly-designed snack bag ever to make it onto a retail shelf. It was tall with a zippered front, and as soon as you put anything into it, the darn thing fell over. It refused to stand and drove all of us slowly bonkers for nine months. It’s gone. Get something you don’t hate that will meet your needs.

Cold packs tend to get beat up, and those without hard plastic exteriors can leak. It’s better to replace them now than before the craziness of the school year begins in earnest.

Buy a calendar for the kids, too. We’ve decided that our 10-year-old is ready to start keeping track of her own stuff. So, we got a calendar just for her room. Now she can write down when her ballet classes are, assignments are due, and so on.

Get a vaccination form from the pediatrician. Certain activities, like sports, might want to see this information. Get one now and tuck it away for the year. It’ll be one less thing to worry about when it’s needed.

Clean off the refrigerator! Here comes a whole new crop of art, papers, permission slips, and who-knows-what. Just don’t let it get out of hand. Also, you’ve got enough magnets, right?

Those are the steps we take every year. How about you? What does your family do to get ready for another school year? Share your words of wisdom in the comments so we all can benefit from your insights.

6 Comments for “Get organized and ready for back-to-school”

  1. posted by Jay on

    Go the the school’s (or county’s or town’s) website and get the school’s calendar. Put the important information, especially days off, into your calendar. If you have an electronic calendar, you might be able to subscribe to or import the web calendar.

    Scan incoming documents. The school sends most information to us as paper in a folder in our kids’ backpacks. We tend to use our phone to scan the paper. In our case, we use the scanner in Google Drive to scan the documents to a Google Drive folder my wife and I share.

    Scan some outgoing documents. We scan some of the kids’ homework and most forms we are returning to the school. We do not scan every piece of homework, but we scan large homework packets, book reports, and anything that took a lot of time to complete. If this homework gets lost, we can reproduce it.

    Put the school and classroom phone numbers in your phone or contact list.

  2. posted by Kelly on

    I have 3 children between Grades 4 and 11. I purchase an agenda at the start of the school year and keep it handy in the kitchen. As soon as any of them get a date for an assignment or school event they know to write it in my agenda. I have to remind them each day at first, but then it becomes habit. I check it frequently, so I am on top of what needs to be done. No more last minute panics when a project is due. It took a little while to develop the routine, but it has been well worth it.

  3. posted by Ines on

    I would love love love for you share your thoughts about time management, organization etc for young kids. I have struggled with toy clean up for years.

    One example, despite modeling over a hundred times how we put away a board game (count the pieces, make sure they are in the right spot, put game back on shelf in closet) before moving on to next item, if I am not there to micro manage, it just doesn’t get done.

    For older kids and time management, I find my son’s school is kind of random…some years they use a planner, some they don’t. My son is 11 and I know soon he will be using a digital device so not sure which system to teach him now. He definitely does not keep track of all his assignments in a planner although he’s gotten better about breaking up long term assignments into chunks. Hard for those of us that are not super organized to teach our kids these skills…need help please!

    One tip I did use with some success this year is inboxes for all family members in the kitchen. My son put all mail from school for us in our boxes and learned to look in the morning in his box for signed permission slips, checks etc.

  4. posted by Courtney Wilson on

    I always find that the stress of adjusting to the first few weeks back at school almost makes the relaxed feeling of summer a distant memory. Getting my 4 boys out of bed is always the hardest part.

  5. posted by G. on

    Now that our schools have been in session for 2 1/2 weeks already, maybe “back to school” tips could be done in early August next round? It’s always nice to start off attempting to keep things organized from the start than go back and redo the system and retrain everyone 🙂 .

  6. posted by Lisa on

    I made computer labels with the information required on every field trip form, (2 Contact names, numbers, relationship to child,) so I can just put a sticker on the form instead of filling out the information time and time again!

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