Education, Parenting

Tips For Organized School Year


8 Tips to Keep Things Going Smoothly This School Year

As the school year begins, it’s often hard to shift from the easy, unstructured flow of summer vacation to the more tightly choreographed dance of school work and extracurricular activities.  A little planning, de-cluttering, and organizing can help the entire family stay focused and keep everyone’s stress levels low.

Here are some tips for establishing a home environment that teaches organizational skills and good study habits:

  1. Have a family calendar, and keep it in a high-traffic location in your home. Ask young children every morning to read to you what’s happening that day. An online Google calendar might work well for families with older kids. Weekly family meetings are a great opportunity to put everyone’s activities on the calendar so there are no unpleasant logistical surprises.
  2. Parents and older children should have their own day planner as well. This is a great way to model good organizational skills by showing your child what kind of system you use to stay on track. Be careful to enlist your child’s ideas for setting up their own systems, rather than just imposing your own process (which will probably be doomed to fail).
  3. Along the same lines, ask questions rather than always give directives. Instead of nagging, challenge kids to think and plan. Ask a nine year old to make a list of steps necessary to complete a book report. Ask a teenager, “What’s your plan for getting your work done so you can go out with your friends this weekend?”
  4. Do your part to keep the family on track. Be sure to have the supplies children usually need to lessen last-minute stress. Keep all forms, dated materials, and schedules in one place. Use designated folders for individual children, or for activities. Keep these in an accessible place so everyone knows where they are.
  5. Set your children up for success. You can prevent time management problems by having school-age children identify some good, distraction-free places to do homework and study.  Discuss family rules regarding computer/video games on school nights, access to cell phones, etc. Create routines that support these goals.
  6. Dedicate time to de-clutter and organize each child’s living space. Do some sorting together and involve your child in the process. Have a designated weekly time to go through the backpack together and decide what stays at home, remains in the backpack, goes back to school, or gets tossed in the trash.  Make de-cluttering easier by keeping a box handy for “giveaways.”
  7. Begin each day the night before. Mornings are often a stressful time for families, and you can help children start the day on a positive note by reducing opportunities for conflict or a stressful time-crunch. Get children in the habit of packing their backpacks the night before and putting them by the front door.  Have them select and lay out clothes in the evening to prevent meltdowns in the morning.
  8. Finally, make thoughtful decisions about how time is allocated and choose after-school activities carefully. It’s very easy for children to be overloaded by the demands of school and extracurriculars. Try to find a balance between structured time and unscheduled playtime, and. of course, give consideration to the importance of family time as well.

Lisa Phillips is a parent educator at The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital.


Newsletter Signup

Your Weekly guide to New Orleans family fun. NOLA Family has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up