Geralin Thomas

Article Summary:

How to get and stay organized for the school year.

Back To School: How To Get Organized For The Year Ahead

Learn what supplies you need to organize your child's learning
Don't rush out and buy every cute gadget and gizmo at the office supply store hoping it is going to keep your child organized and more productive. It could end up becoming clutter. Before heading out check in closets and drawers and see what you have on hand. A few basics that most elementary-aged kids need are items such as poster board, markers, glue sticks, colored pencils, number 2 lead pencils, scissors, lined paper and erasers.

I advise holding off on purchasing pencil cases or pencil boxes, folders, and binders until specifics are given by teachers.

Once you have a surplus of supplies on hand create a supply zone in your home where your children can access things themselves. Usually a plastic box, like a dishpan, in the bottom of the pantry or closet is well suited for this. This is the perfect time to visit the wine merchant since they have nice wooden wine crates which are perfect; some have lids.

Color code your kids
Buy everything in specific colors. For example, if you are the mother of two boys assign each a color: one could be blue and the other green. Buy one a blue backpack and the other a green backpack. Keep the color-theme going throughout the house. Bath towels, tooth brushes, placemats, mittens, file folders which they could place important papers for you to sign and them to return to school, etc. Everything can be color coded including their activities on the calendar. Use a blue pen for one and a green for the other. Earth-friendly soy based inks are available at many office supply stores.

Pizza boxes for Pete's sake!
Children are creative and generous. As parents we are the recipients of all those little works of art they create. While there are a lot of really nice, expensive storage boxes which containerize the masterpieces children create you can also store things in repurposed containers. For example an unused pizza box is perfect for storing Jr.'s ceramic snake, macaroni necklace, or construction paper collage of the solar system. At the end of each quarter or trimester (after report cards come home) take 10 minutes and "edit" the contents of the box. Chances are you won't have too much trouble sorting out the keepers from the less cherished creations.

Paper or plastic?
If your children prefer a bagged lunch it is much less stressful to make the lunches and refrigerate them the night before. Try to "go green"; encourage kids to use containers which can be brought home, washed, and refilled rather than thrown away. It's a great way to introduce them to the other 3 Rs: recycling, repurposing, and reusing.

If they buy their lunches put the money into the zippered section of their back packs the night before. Many schools accept "credit cards". Kids are given a plastic card and parents can prepay for lunches; a card is swiped to deduct the amount of the purchase.

Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News...
Recycle a file folder. Using the appropriate color create a file for each child. In the file keep updated immunization records and other vital documents. Note the year and the child's current height, weight, and any allergies. Keep their health history forms in this same folder and store it in a convenient place. Photocopy the form the school sends home every year and keep it from year to year. This is a huge time saver for families with multiple children. Every year the same forms come home requiring the same information. What a time-management nightmare for parents with multiple children!

If your kids play sports they will need a physical which requires an appointment with the physicians assistant or a pediatrician. Tip: When making doctor or dentist appointments request the first appointment after the office reopens for lunch; there is less chance of waiting and wasting time.

What's hot and what's not
Go through your children's closets and drawers. Bear in mind the golden rule: (well, it isn't golden but it should be) "you need to subtract before you can add", meaning that before you bring in new clothes you should go through the old stuff and subtract it or take it away from your home. Preferences change, styles change, and some things just don't fit. Delete them from your home. Get rid of them. Donate, consign, or pass them along to someone who needs them.

Be prepared to receive
Parents know the following to be a true statement: Kids are clutter magnets! The volume of "stuff" kids bring home from school is daunting. It is helpful to teach your kids to separate the contents of their backpacks for you. Have 3 hanging file folders or a 3 tiered basket system prepared. Mine are labeled:

  • Autograph
  • Look
  • Keepsakes

AUTOGRAPH means an adult signature is required. Note: my house rule is, if it isn't in the basket before bedtime it won't be signed.

LOOK is reserved for things I need to read or look over for example, information on fundraisers, newsletters, school handbooks, etc.

KEEPSAKES is reserved for items they want me to scrapbook such as awards, ribbons, certificates, or photographs.

As any adult knows there are many subjects to master in life but teaching your kids to get organized for school can be as easy as ABC.

Geralin Thomas of METROPOLITAN Organizing is experienced in both residential and home office organizing. She always considers the lifestyle, budget, and personality of each client. Geralin works with homeowners, designers, builders, architects, and businesses creating organized environments and enhancing client's lives. Metropolitan Organizing is located in Cary, NC and can be reached at (919) 380-7718 or via website at: Metropolitan

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