You’ve downloaded the school supply lists and bought everything your kiddos will need (and likely more!). High-five, parents! To get this school year off to a sweet start, get their school items organized and systems set up ahead of time. The first week of school will be less chaotic and more streamlined when everyone knows where everything is located and where items are to be deposited, taken from, and found.
A Place for Backpacks
Use wall hooks in the entryway or mudroom to store these items—make sure they are secure enough to hold heavy backpacks. Best location is the kids’ first point of entry and last point of exit! Don’t let them get in the habit of just leaving their backpacks all over the house. One, it cuts down on floor clutter; two, it lessens the chances of school stuff getting lost or misplaced. Once they get home, encourage them to empty their backpacks of lunch and homework items. When leaving for school, it will be the reverse order.
These should also not be strewn all over the house. Nobody wants to find a half-filled silicone sandwich bag two weeks later in the back of the closet! Once they empty their backpacks, have a spot in the kitchen for them to deposit their lunch bags so everything can be emptied, washed, and readied for the next day.
The first month of school means a lot of paper coming home and needing to be returned. Laptop insurance form, band bus sign-up, parent volunteer form, museum field trip permission, sports forms—the list is endless. Don’t be scrambling at the last minute looking for that missing piece of paper that needs turning in tomorrow! Set up some kind of in-and-out file folder area, either by your Command Center or Lunch Box spot. Here, kiddos can put papers into file folders with labels such as, “Graded Homework—Recycle or Keep”, “Sign and Return”, or “Important Papers to Keep”.
With my three kiddos I used a big erasable, magnetic white board with colorful magnets and pens, and a column for each of my kids (let’s just forget how they bickered about who would get what color). I’ve marveled at the more elaborate, customizable ones from Pottery Barn and Container Store. I’ve also seen refrigerators with an amazing array of white boards, chore charts, Post-It notes, and magnets. Doesn’t matter which Command Center style you go with—just be sure that the whole family has easy access to and is willing to use it! It’s best to set it up where kids spend most of their time doing their homework, whether that’s the kitchen, play or homework room, or their bedroom. Keep the schedules, due dates, and important items updated, and it will be a huge help in keeping everyone on task.
Set your kiddos up for success with a dedicated homework station, whether it’s in their bedroom, a study room or corner, or part of your kitchen. This gives them a spot to focus on schoolwork; hopefully with as few distractions as possible! The Spruce has some practical yet fun ideas for homework stations at every budget. Give the kids easy access to basic homework supplies—paper, pens, scissors, ruler, etc.—sorted in baskets, a caddy, or a desk organizer. If they have a school laptop or desktop PC, a laptop or monitor stand helps bring the screen to a more comfortable, ergonomically-appropriate height.
School Supplies Storage
Make sure you never run out of school supplies by creating a stash. If you’ve got some extra closet space, organize a supplies storage solution with shelves and bins or baskets. For my kiddos I used this TROFAST storage combo from IKEA, with bins clearly labeled, and only needed to restock once or twice a year. It was wonderful to never have to run out at the last minute for things like Sharpies, glue, or colored paper!
It will take a week or two for the whole family to get fully used to this routine—but once it sticks, it will be seriously amazing! Less stress and chaos, less misplaced and lost items, and less clutter all around. Use incentives (or a bit of bribing!) if that helps everyone stick to the plan. With these systems in place before school begins, your whole family is set for an A+ school year!