Organizing for Back-to-School

These tips will help you establish some vital routines which will simplify the daunting task of keeping up with your children as they start back to school.

Before school begins, assess each child’s room for minimizing distractions. Create an area in which to complete homework and keep their school bag and supplies. If their room, closet, or desk is a disaster area, allow enough time for you and the child to help one another to bring order to the room. Keep it fun by playing music or setting a timer. Remember to have trash bags ready!

Designated areas are vital to contributing peace in the home and consistency of knowing where to find items. Select areas in advance, so they will know where the backpacks will live when they come home from school. Decide where school supplies will be stored and made available to your children. Also decide where notes from teachers will be deposited for your attention.

Routine, routine, routine. Establish an expectation for when the children will do their homework, have a snack, play outside, do chores. When a pattern is consistently repeated each day, the children will develop more self-discipline. A routine can provide great security to a child, especially younger children. They like knowing what will happen next.

Make decisions in advance about television viewing, video games, computer time, etc. “On school nights, we only get 1 hour of television“ or “1 hour of gaming, after homework is complete” is an example of what needs to be decided prior to the very first day of school. When the expectation is clearly communicated in advance, there will less likely be a power struggle.

Setting up a reward system is a great motivator for all ages. The rewards may be different for each child, as individuals have value for very different things. While one child likes working toward a ticket to go ice skating, another child may prefer having a friend sleep over, or an outing to get ice cream. Make sure rewards are given for achievable goals so the kids don’t get discouraged and lose interest and valuable motivation.

Many children are visual learners. Create a chart for their schedule, chores, and their reward system. This can even be created in a digital form on a spreadsheet, if you’re technically inclined. Seeing their progress and seeing their schedule will help them have realistic expectations about comes next and what they’re working toward.

Have a plan for where school papers will live when they come home. Create a fresh file folder for each child. Each week, have them select their best paper to go in the folder. At the end of the year, they will have a good representation of the year’s work, and can then select the “cream” of the year to keep in a memory box. The other papers can go to Grandma, a scrapbook, or recycling.

These steps will give your children a great start in developing new self-discipline for monitoring their time and working toward goals. Here's to a great start for the new school year!

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