It’s that time of year when parents sigh with relief and children are less than pleased. Back to school is right around the corner. In a few weeks, the kids will return to the scheduled, disciplined lives of back to school. With it come early morning alarm clocks, and new organizational challenges. Paper piles will swell with hand-outs and homework assignments. Shorter autumn days will bring a hectic round of sports, activities and events and calendars will fill with notes and appointments.
Get organized now for the best school year ever! Use these ideas to prepare your home and family for the busy days ahead.
Start by making it fun. Plan a return-to-school party for your kids and their friends and fill loot bags with fun back-to-school supplies.
Think about desks. You may want “home office central” in the den or kitchen or spare room just for an office. It should have a calendar and file for important papers and a bulletin board for easy referencing. A central desk area is great to keep all school information and calendars in one consistent location. A personal desk for each child might give them a place to stay organized and settle to do homework. If your child feels trapped away in his room studying, invite him into the kitchen by adding a workstation there. This keeps him part of the activity while you prepare dinner, and you can be sure he gets all his homework done.
Think about sleep time. It’s important for kids to a get good night’s sleep. It might be time to evaluate if your children need a new mattress. How old is the one they are sleeping on? Is it big enough and firm enough for your growing child? Studies show to thrive academically, kids of all ages—preschool through college—need to have energy, the ability to focus, concentrate, retain information, and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires kids to control impulses and manage emotions and behavior to keep on track. All of these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.
Think about your dining table. Studies have shown that family meals together boost academic achievement. For young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Older children also reap intellectual benefits from family dinners. For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art. Other researchers reported a consistent association between family dinner frequency and teen academic performance. Adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week. Children in today’s busy world need a shared, safe space to discuss ideas within the understanding company of family, and parents need a routine time to connect with kids.
Think about household systems and furniture that support organization of all the activities that come with back to school. Start out with a clean slate and it’ll be so much easier to keep it that way. Not just papers pile up; the start of the school year also means after-school activities, which tend to include a lot of stuff like coats, backpacks, shoes and sports gear. If you have a designated place for everything, you’ve just upped the organizational odds. Organize the mud room or laundry room or an area in the den for all their sports stuff…maybe a closet or armoire designated to kids equipment. Book shelves and cubby shelves are all good for keeping sports gear, instruments, coats and boots. Build them with different compartments for large and small items, and don’t forget hooks for jackets. A new school year quickens the tempo of family life. Sports activities, music lessons, church programs and volunteer commitments tap parental time and put new mileage on the mini-van. Getting and staying organized is the key to feeling in control.
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