Giving kids the tools for a smooth back-to-school

Going back to school shouldn’t mean going back to bad habits. Lost permission slips, untidy desks, overflowing backpacks and panic over last-minute assignments will be a thing of the past with a few simple changes to your routine.

Kids need structure to help them get organized. By working together you can make sure mornings run smoothly, homework is a breeze and you’ve got more quality time together on the weekends.

Create a positive study space

Image: _saarke_ via Instagram
Image: _saarke_ via Instagram

Every home should have a designated study area. If you’re short on space, a corner of your child’s bedroom or a spot at the kitchen table will do – as long as it’s cosy with lots of natural light. All homework should be completed in this designated area, and never in front of the TV. The less distractions the better. Kids are expert procrastinators, so make sure their study spot has all the bits and bobs they could possibly need (pens, pencils, glue stick, blank paper etc).

If you’ve got a few kids studying at the same time, perhaps set a timer and allocate half an hour in the study space for each person. It means less distractions and more quality work being done. Invest in a comfortable chair, a bright desk lamp and perhaps a few motivational pictures to encourage them.

Color-code to combat the chaos

Get your kids to choose different colors for each school subject. For example, green might represent maths, blue might represent English and orange might be history. Color coding can help them quickly identify what they need to take to school and what can be removed from their backpack. It also keeps things tidy at their desk or workspace. You don’t have to cover everything in one big, block color. Keep it subtle and stylish, using personalized labels and cute images instead. Collect pictures from their favorite magazines that are heavy on a particular color, or get them to draw their own color-based artwork. Use the corresponding pen, highlighter or post-it note to mark due dates on the calendar, and they’ll be able to switch between subjects with ease.

Unpack the backpack

Stuck On You Backpacks
Stuck On You Backpacks

Backpacks aren’t just for carrying lunches and books. They are a direct link between what happens at school and what happens at home. So it’s important that you set aside time each week to go through your child’s backpack, making sure all notes have been collected and it’s clean, tidy and ready for the week ahead. We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of wiping a mushy banana from the bottom of a bag, or finding an important note shoved into a side pocket. Keep on top of things with a weekly “backpack audit” so that you and your child are aware of what’s in there at all times… and it doesn’t become a substitute rubbish bin!

Plan ahead

If you’ve already got a bedtime routine in place, considering adding another step to help avoid the morning chaos. Sit together and go over what will be happening the following day, organising permission slips, library bags, musical instruments or sports gear the night before. You could even get your child to lay the next day’s clothes out so there’s no risk of rummaging through laundry baskets and trying to locate missing socks before school.

Break it down

Image: OYOY
Image: OYOY

Major projects can be overwhelming. Help reduce stress by breaking jobs into bite-sized chunks. Whether it’s a school assignment or even a household chore, each task should have a beginning, middle and end. Knowing when and how the job will be completed will reduce stress by working steadily towards the end goal. For example, if there’s a school project on dinosaurs you could break it down into small chunks like this:

  1. Research your favourite dinosaur
  2. Write what you’ve learned in your own words
  3. Find photos to print and add to your project
  4. Check spelling
  5. Put in your schoolbag ready to submit

Feature image: Mum Little Loves