It’s back to school time again! Suddenly it seems like the summer that was just beginning is now over. There are back to school sales at every turn, PTA members on the hunt for fresh blood for volunteering tasks, and the supply list that came in the back to school packet in today’s mail.
Before I head back to school as a Technology Magnet Coordinator, the final weeks of summer is my chance to get organized. Purge the house, get back into a routine, and organize myself to be as efficient as possible as Little Miss Techie head to kindergarten and Captain Computer begins his 3 day a week preschool program.
My overwhelming desire for organization and routines is due in part to being a teacher. I know that children crave routines and rely on them in order to be successful in school but I was quite impressed to hear Peter Walsh, professional organizer, author, and star of TLC’s Clean Sweep, reiterate the need for organization and routines in a webcast he did in conjunction with Office Max and featuring fabulous blogger, friend, mom, and fellow Being Savvy City Editor Ana (aka Bonggamom). During the webcast, Walsh worked with Ana, award winning teacher Heather Wolpert- Gawron, and two students of different ages to provide realistic organizational tips for home and school.
Before school starts, Walsh urged viewed to examine their living space to ensure that the organization we expect for our kids is reflected in our home. Getting organized involves the entire family. Walsh encourages parents to declutter the home by looking around to see what you have before you even head out shopping for new supplies. Sorting out pencils, paper, glue, files, etc. will curb excess purchases and help to save money.
Other tips include:
- Making organization a family value. If you value organization, your kids will too.
- Establishing clear limits and routines to develop security and routines around the ebb and flow of day
- Always “finish the cycle” by completing the task. For example, when you open a jar, close it. Or when you start a project, be sure to finish it.
Walsh said that even having the youngest children help create organizational systems within the home helps to maintain order and teach long term organizational skills. For example, have your child select a single color for items like their backpack, lunch box, and school supplies. Doing so will help parents know which items belong to which child. Also, having a single place for incoming and outgoing homework, papers, books, etc. helps to ensure that items get returned in a timely manner and not stuck at the bottom of a backpack.
Having an organized home helps kids complete homework more easily if they know where to find supplies and have a flat surface to work on. Walsh offered the following tips:
- Flat surfaces are important. Find the vision you have for a space…Think about what you want from the space, make it happen. Cluttered desks make it hard to get things accomplished and create stress.
- Use the right tools for great organization. For example, something simple like a pencil cup on a desk will help kids know where to find supplies. A desktop sorter, expanding folder, and color files can assist in keeping school supplies in one place. Walsh also talked about how to use a backpack by putting books in the biggest part, lunch in the medium size compartment, and stashing items like a cell phone and pens in the smallest parts.
- Make organization a family value. If you value organization, your kids will do the same. Make a point of having your kids take things out of their backpacks when they come home and get in the practice of laying clothes out the night before.
- Teach children to use a calendar. Even the youngest children can use a simple one week calendar to teach them the concept of time and the idea of schedules. Older children can use Google calendar and be assigned a certain color for all of their extra curricular activities and take charge of adding items to a family calendar.
Establishing and following routines at home may seem be easier than at school when kids are away but teachers go to great lengths to create routines and order in their classrooms from the minute school begins. From the classroom library, routines for handing in work, to the flow of the day…the classroom is the most organized learning environment there is!
When asked by Walsh about how teachers help kids organized, teacher expert Heather said that parents can help maintaining the routines that are set in the classroom by going to back to school night. Back to school night is an opportunity to connect with the teacher to begin communication that is needed throughout the year but also a chance to learn the layout of the classroom and teacher expectations.
A good portion of organization that helps maintain order at school can be done at home by parents. Heather and Ana both stated the importance of labeling your child’s belongings. Think of the number of classmates your child has and multiply backpacks, pencil boxes, lunch boxes, coats, etc by that number. Monogram backpacks (we only use our kids’ initials for safety reasons!) and stick Mabel’s Labels to the rest of their belongings for easy identification.
And as Peter Walsh said, “old wisdom is good wisdom. A place for everything and everything in its place.”
No promotional consideration was paid by Office Max or Mabel’s Labels for mentioning products in this post. I did receive a great box of office supplies featuring Office Max’s fun kid-centric line of Scoolio-Von-Hoolio products for participating in the webcast. Some of which will be used to help organize my home office and the rest will be given to the teachers I work with to help them organize their classrooms.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama