School is back in session, which means you need an organization system that can minimize chaos, before it gets the best of you and your young students.
Setting up a designated workspace for your kids and organizing school supplies ahead of time can help reduce clutter, stress, and confusion at home.
Follow these six organization tips for back-to-school success!
1. Set Up A Calm, Clean Workspace
The ideal workspace for your kids is the one where they’ll be most productive.
“Where your kids decide to do their homework will absolutely depend on their personality and their work style,” says Nonnahs Driskill, professional organizer and founder of Get Organized Already!
She recommends asking them where they prefer to work, whether it’s the kitchen table, their bedroom, or a desk in the corner of a living space.
Laura Kavinski, productivity and organizational consultant and owner of Crux Organizing, says: “It’s best to find a space where there’s a balance of quiet and access to their guardians for homework help.”
A place that has a clock in view can also help kids practice time management.
Once you decide on a dedicated work zone, make sure it’s comfortable and conducive to writing essays and solving math problems. Pick up clutter, add an extra lamp, and clear space for storage through out the year.
2. Store School Supplies In One Central Spot
“Store tools and supplies where they will be used,” Driskill says, “The more you have to get up looking and searching for supplies the less likely you are to finish the task at hand.”
You can store essentials in a portable caddy, Kavinski says, so your kids have easy access to everything they need, no matter where they choose to work. Then when homework time is finished, just stash the caddy in a storage closet or bedroom.
If your kids need access to a variety of supplies, like scissors, glue, and miscellaneous craft materials, repurpose a hanging shoe organizer or old tool box to organize them.
3. Minimize Paper Clutter
“School papers can accumulate faster than items in a Target shopping cart,” Driskill says.
To prevent paper buildup — and protect your sanity — sort through your kids’ papers once a week and either file or recycle them. Enter due dates and activities into a digital or family wall calendar and dispose of paper copies says Driskill.
If your kids are old enough, make a point to include them in organizing decisions, Kavinski suggests. Show your kids how to store important papers in a file box with different folders (and different colored tabs) for each subject. You can also sort papers in accordion file folders (one notebook for each kid) with tabs, or stack them in hanging magazine holders.
Consider keeping a tray for paper items that require action on your part. Think: anything you need to fill out or sign for your kids, like field trip permission slips. o matter the method you use, an efficient filing system is key; it eliminates confusion and makes it easy for your kids to access the reference materials they need.
4. Store Artwork And Projects With Intention
If you don’t develop a system for storing and displaying your kids’ artwork, awards, and completed projects, your house will become overrun with sagging poster board and painted styrofoam balls.
Kavinski recommends involving your kids in the process of choosing which pieces to save or let go.
“I use a system I created of ‘Love on the Left & Recycle on the Right’ to help kids as young as three sort through artwork and toys,” she explains.
Once your kids decide on their favorite pieces, you can choose how and where to put them.
Driskill suggests designating a small space (like a desk shelf or cubby) to show off these items. When the space is full, she says, you can practice the “one in, one out” rule.
5. Maintain The Organization System
Staying organized takes practice, but you can help your kids by encouraging them to participate in the process as much as possible.
“By offering them suggestions and seeing what they add to the conversation,” Kavinski says, “you’re creating a space for them to problem solve, which means when they’re working on homework they will be more likely to try a little longer before giving up.”
Driskill agrees, and says it’s important to pay attention to which organization system works best for each individual child. It may not be what works for you, she adds, but that’s okay.
6. Keep Communication Open And Adjust As Needed
No matter how well you think you nailed your back-to-school organization, your family may still have difficulty adjusting. That’s why it’s crucial to check in with your kids regularly.
“Implement a family communication plan for how you will identify and solve smaller issues in scheduling or organization before they become huge problems,” Kavinski says.