It’s that time of year again – a new school year is starting. Every year we work on starting the school year in a calm and organized manner. Each fall we take what worked previously and build upon it. We have noticed that being organized has helped out a lot! Here are our best tips to start the school year off right in an organized manner.
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Strategies to Start the School Year Off Right
1. Create a consistent and predictable after school routine
What has worked best for our family is to have the kids eat a snack, then get started on homework. While they are working on homework I am going through their folders and taking care of any notes from teachers, etc. Once they finish homework they have free time until dinner.
We eat dinner at the same time each night as often as possible. After dinner, we go outside to play as a family. After outdoor time, the kids get ready for bed, we have family prayers, and then we go through the kids’ bedtime routines.
A consistent routine has many benefits, which include helping children feel safe. Why Kids Need Routines explains in depth how routines help kids. We stick to the schedule as much as possible, though extracurricular activities do interfere.
2. Wake everyone up at the same time each day
While we’re talking about routines, another routine that we have in place is to make sure everyone wakes up at about the same time everyday. Yes, even on weekends. (Within a half hour of their weekday waking time.)
We have found that the kids are in a better mood when they have the same bed time and waking time everyday. Regular bedtime and waking time ensures they get the right amount of sleep.
3. Have a calendar containing everyone’s commitments
We have a wall calendar for the calendar year in our kitchen. We write appointments, events, etc. as we learn about them.
Also in our kitchen is a large dry erase calendar. This calendar is a one month calendar. Each month I take our wall calendar down and copy any appointments, etc. into the new monthly calendar. I then write in any recurring things, like soccer practice, dance class, etc.
Everyone is easily able to see what is going on each day. This system has helped us get where we need to go. We are usually on time too. There are no last minute surprises.
4. Create a space for daily essentials
Near the door we use most often, we have dedicated areas for everyone’s backpacks, jackets, and shoes (for shoes we use similar drawers to these Sterilite 23108004 27 Quart/26 Liter Stacking Drawer, White Frame with Clear Drawers, 4-Pack).When we come home, each of us immediately puts away each item before coming further into the house.
This helps keep everyone organized. It is especially helpful in the morning because everyone is able to easily put on shoes and jackets and get their backpacks.
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5. Create a homework station where homework supplies are located
We have all the kids’ homework supplies located in a drawer in the kitchen. Once they get home from school they can sit at the table with their homework and know where to find everything they need, while I begin getting snacks ready and making lunches for the following day.
Completed homework and any other paperwork headed back to school go in the backpack at night. Putting it away immediately ensures that it is there in the morning.
6. Create a system for paperwork
The system we have found to work best for our family is to separate school paperwork into two piles; paperwork that is due immediately and paperwork that is due at a later date.
Any paperwork due back to school immediately is filled out and returned to the communication folder. Even if we have a few days, we like to get it back so it is done!
Paperwork that is due at a later date is placed into a folder that is reviewed every few days.
7. Have clothing organized in kids rooms so they can choose clothes and dress themselves for school
Create a place for clothes that are acceptable to wear to school (a ‘school clothes’ section) so that children are able to easily choose outfits themselves.
We have a section of their dressers and a section of their closets that are clearly identified as school clothes which allow our kids to know exactly where their school clothes are. They are able to use these sections to pick out clothes the night before or in the morning.
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8. Make lunches the night before
When everyone’s lunch is prepared the night before, each person only has to take their lunchbox from the fridge and put it into their backpack.
To make packing lunches even easier, we create a bin with pre-portioned snacks, such as crackers, popcorn, etc. We also use this system for ready to eat fruits and/or veggies, etc. Some produce only needs to be washed, while others need to be cut up and portioned. Having all of this prepared ahead of time makes packing lunch a breeze.
We even like to prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in batches and freeze them. We take them out the night before and put them in the lunchbox. By lunch time the next day they are thawed and taste the same as if they hadn’t been frozen!
If your kids are old enough to pack their own lunches, let them know what their lunch must include. An example would be a sandwich, two pieces of fruit, and two items from the snack bin.
What helps your family start the school year off right? Leave a comment below.