It’s that time of year for most families… back to school shopping and organizing.
These days I no longer have anything to do with organizing my kids for school, since they are in college and handling (I hope) that aspect of their lives all on their own. I like to think that the skills they learned when they were younger are helping them cope with the academic challenges now.
From the time they were kindergarten age until middle school, we home-schooled the girls. Organizing for school supplies at that point consisted of having a little work station set up for each girl in the house, with all the pens, crayons, paper, etc., that they needed all in one spot. Our spot was the dining counter in the kitchen. We lived in a very small apartment, so there wasn’t any problem moving a few things to the living room or the bedroom, if the girls wanted to work in those places.
I saw a clever idea at A Bowl Full of Lemons for families that might live in a larger space and need a good way to help their kids be both portable and organized for school work: Homework Caddies. I love the simplicity of this system, how easy it is to see what’s included, and how easy to carry from room to room for the kids.
As I mentioned, we home-schooled until our girls were middle school age. So our first big “school shopping” expedition was kind of a shock. I was amazed and a bit overwhelmed by just how much stuff had to be purchased, by how specific some teachers’ lists were (even down to brand names of paper) and also by just how much stuff was left unused at the end of the year.
After that first year I kept a box of supplies for each girl in their closets and we would “shop” from there each prior year before heading out to the store. Our girls preferred to do their homework in their bedrooms, so we set up desks for each of them. We bought some rolling backpacks because their school didn’t have lockers and they needed to carry a lot every day.
We were very lucky, because the girls were always fairly on top of things. They kept their school work organized on their own, did their homework without nagging, and didn’t really have many issues. I know, a dream situation, right?
As they moved into high school, I began to needlessly worry about whether they would be able to stay organized, and I ended up reading a fantastic book on how to help older students find an organizing system that will work for them.
The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg has some really solid advice for not only the physical tools and aspects of getting your student organized (backpacks, school lockers, desks), but also the emotional aspect of working with older students, who may not always be receptive to suggestions.
Here’s hoping the school year goes smoothly for everyone!