Although I love Summer and hate to see it end, as a parent of a senior in high school, I have no choice but to start thinking about the upcoming school term. This year promises to be very exciting and it will be in full swing before we know it; September 3rd to be exact.
So, once again, it’s time to start thinking about how to handle the deluge of school papers that will flow in and out of our homes. For students and parents alike, getting an ORGANIZED start to the new school year can make the difference between having a SUCCESSFUL school year or not. If you follow the eight recommendations below, I know that you and your child will have a much more successful school year!
GET YOUR CHILD RE-ACCLIMATED TO GOING TO BED EARLIER AND WAKING UP EARLIER
Start now to slowly move the bedtime back by a half hour or an hour a week so that when school begins, your child will be able to go to bed early enough to get the proper rest that they need in order to function best in school. This is especially true for older children (such as teenagers) who, like my son, started off the Summer going to bed at 1:00 a.m. and sleeping until 11:00 a.m. Teenagers need lots of sleep (usually about 10 hours per night). I am currently moving his bedtime back in one hour increments so that when Labor Day rolls around he will not have such a hard time going to bed at 9:00 p.m. This will enable him to get up for school on time at 5:45 a.m. As I move the bedtime back, I also make sure my son gets up earlier so he can get acclimated to doing that as well.
SET SOME RULES RIGHT FROM THE START.
Establish family ground RULES relating to the school year daily schedule, such as that ideal bedtime, homework completion, television watching, computer surfing, and socializing. Establishing these expectations at the beginning of the school year communicates the parent’s PRIORITIES and commitment from the start. Children need and want these boundaries to feel safe and secure, whether they know it or not, even teenagers.
SET UP A CENTRAL SYSTEM
Establish a "Command Center" for your children’s PAPER -- incoming and outgoing. Put an end to the school paper chase by establishing a zone for processing school paper – both incoming and outgoing. This area is where parents can review and PROCESS action papers (permission slips, lunch money, homework sign-offs, etc.) for quick turnaround. Adopt a simple two tiered "In/Out box" where you will process paper (the preferred location being in or near the kitchen) and instruct your children to place papers for mom’s or dad’s review in the In box. Completed paper is then given to children for return to school.
CREATE A LAUNCHING PAD
Establish a ZONE for the daily backpack pickup/drop close to the door where your child enters and exits each day. After Mom or Dad has processed the papers that need to go back to school, they can then return them to this zone for the kids to return to their backpack. Any other items needed for school should be placed in this area as well. This simple strategy will greatly ease the morning rush.
CREATE A SPACE FOR HOMEWORK
Set up a desk or STUDY workspace that is conducive to concentration and focus. Considerations for setting up the child’s workspace should include good lighting, low noise levels, plenty of space to spread out, privacy, sufficient availability of supplies and anything else that adds to the structure. Stock drawers with basic supplies your child needs in order to complete homework and projects.
THINK ABOUT CLASSROOM ORGANIZATION
Establish a system and tools to help your child be organized AT school as well as at home. It is critically important for children to develop organizational skills at an early age. Accordion folders or binders with pocket folders labeled for each class can be an easy organizer system for your child to keep papers corralled at school as well as home. Once your child is old enough to use a locker at school, equip him/her with locker accessories that allow subjects to be separated by, perhaps, morning and afternoon classes.
TAKE IT EASY
Don’t overload your children with too many extra-curricular ACTIVITIES. Today’s school children are over-scheduled and stressed out as a result. A balance of academics, activities and down time is necessary for academic success and good mental health. Make every effort to have dinner together as a family and avoid outside activities that distract from this important family ritual. Ask yourself what’s more important, your kid’s skills or their sanity? They will gain a lot more from the time they spend with the family around the dinner table.
GET EVERYONE TO HELP OUT
Establish an age appropriate CHORE routine to keep your children engaged and accountable to the family unit. With EVERY family member pitching in to help the household run smoothly, more time is freed up for fun family activities when the work is done. This includes the parents. Children need to see that their parents are active participants in household chores, not just dictators.
By establishing these simple yet powerful organizational routines, you and your children will be on the road to success this school year.
If you have any comments or questions about this topic or any other organizing issue you might have, feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to make your place A BETTER SPACE!
Have a great week!