Being organized and on top things can be daunting for parents, let alone our kids! While research shows that kids can benefit from set routines at home and at school, including better behavior and better academic performance, sticking to a schedule is sometimes easier said than done. Let’s face it, we all have unique lives, with different pressures, obligations and stresses that rule our day-to-day. Teaching our kids to be organized isn’t easy, but it is something that we should at least try to encourage. Some negative effects of not being organized that students can suffer from include losing confidence in their ability to handle things, self-blame, a decrease in academic performance, challenge avoidance and more.
As a teacher and tutor with over 10 years of experience, including event planning and recruiting, I know a thing or two about being organized. A mother of two fabulous girls, our days are busy trying to balance school, work, family and extracurricular activities. Sometimes things can get complicated and schedules are thrown off kilter, but having a few strategies in place to keep your family organized can never hurt. In the run up to back-to-school season (cue the school supply commercials!), you can help your family be prepared for the adjustments ahead by some forward planning.
Here are my top six tips for helping your kids get organized for back-to-school:
- Give your kids control– Sit down with your kids this month and discuss the upcoming school schedule, their goals for September and their needs. Let your kids advocate for themselves and dictate (within reason!) the time to complete homework, what they would like for school lunches, etc. Letting them in on the conversation can make them feel important and that their opinion matters
- Adopt the KISS principle: keep it smart and simple – Try not to overcomplicate things and buy every gadget possible. A sturdy backpack, simple stationary and a well stocked pencil case are all kids need to be ready for back-to-school. I would also suggest going through your child's clothes and getting rid of anything he or she has outgrown or worn threadbare. It'll be easier to choose outfits if there's less clutter plus you may need to do some back-to-school shopping you hadn’t planned on! For a list of back to school essentials by grade, go here
- Back to the Basics – After 2 months of parks, pools, camps and cottages, many kids have completely lost their school ‘schedule’. In the last week of summer holidays, set your alarm if your kids have had the luxury of sleeping in and get their body clocks back on school schedule. Going to bed earlier is important too as they need their sleep for proper development. And be sure to include enough prep time in the mornings. Kids won’t brush their teeth proactively without some provocation. Heck, you could even have a trial run and practice your morning routine before it actually happens! Have young ones that need help with a sleep routine? Check out some tips on establishing good sleep habits here
- Organization station – keep a file or tray in a central location in your home for loose papers and actionable items like permission forms, homework assignments, chores, etc. Using a family calendar or dry-wipe board to include family commitments, events and extracurriculars is good for family optics and an easy way to see who has what and when. If your kids cannot access something, chances are they will forget and struggle to stay organized. Keep your kids organized at home by setting a specific place for back packs, binders, supplies and more!
- Make a list – I am a stickler for to-do lists. I spend about 5-10 mins a day, planning out my actionable items and adding them to calendars and personal schedules. As kids get older, getting them to complete this daily action will help with personal planning. There are apps for that and since most teens have access to a phone, they can manage their own schedules. For a fun, free printable family to do list, go here
- Find your inner ‘foodie’ – We all know that eating healthy is a key part of a growing child’s daily life and getting kids back on a nutritious diet in time for September is a great way to get things back on track. The summer can often promote indulgences like ice cream, meat-heavy backyard BBQs and we may not be eating as good as we should. Although we may not have time everyday to make a homemade, healthy lunch or dinner, planning meals, cooking and eating as a family has been found very beneficial in strengthening close connections. Don’t consider yourself a ‘foodie’ and need some inspiration? The Mablehood has loads of easy, healthy and delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas here