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“Mom! Where’s my…”
“Dad, I can’t find my…”
It’s a chorus that rings out daily in homes everywhere. And it seems to be worse during the school year.
No matter how hard you try, getting and keeping your kids and their school supplies organized is a challenge. Andrea McIlwain, a Des Moines, IA, mother of two, explains: “I’m trying to teach my daughter to be responsible for her own projects, assignments and upcoming activities, but it’s definitely a learning curve.”
McIlwain’s got the right idea. Making organization a family affair will help your kids learn good habits fast.
Help your kids keep track of their stuff at home and school by establishing routines. “Homework and classwork should always go in the same place within each notebook,” suggests Barbara Reich, author of Secrets of an Organized Mom. “At home, there needs to be a designated place for everything. If a child cleans his desk every night after doing homework, puts all current homework in the backpack, files class notes and tests, everything will stay organized. This takes less than 10 minutes a day.”
Stock up the art and school supplies your kids need for school in a desk, closet or wall organizer. If your kids are older, charge them with keeping track of the supply inventory so they don’t run out. According to The Organizing Guy Bill Bliesath, “keeping it organized is a must-do and a learned activity.” Engage your kids in straightening up the supply area nightly or weekly, even the youngest children can help.
Every family needs a master calendar to stay organized. But kids as young as in third grade can keep their own events in a personal planner designed just for them. “Spend the time with your kids setting up their planner in the beginning, and follow up to ensure they're using it effectively,” says Atlanta-area dad David Bakke. Adds Reich: “Kids can use a planner, a smartphone or any type of calendar system. What the system consists of is less important than whether it works for the child.”
Sometimes, your kid’s school backpack looks like Pandora’s box, overstuffed with school supplies and who knows what else. “If there aren’t separate zippered compartments for pencils and pens, a calculator and other school supply organizers, these items should be in a zippered case,” Bliesath says. “Use your pockets and compartments consistently. The pens always go here, the markers there, the notebooks here, etc. Take time each day to help younger kids learn the good habit of cleaning out the clutter and putting things back in place. Challenge them to find items in their backpacks with their eyes closed while trying to beat the clock.”
It’s never too early to start teaching your kids to be organized at home and at school. “Learn the habit of consistent organizing,” Bliesath suggests. “It’s like brushing your teeth — and just as important.”