Set a routine for school mornings
Getting children to school can be stressful. Organization not only makes mornings run more smoothly (which is especially helpful on days when you’re running late), but it teaches young children valuable life skills. Put a few tools and systems in place, and soon your kids will be able to manage effortlessly on their own.
Set up an area in your home to organize family information. This keeps everyone on the same page.
This area should contain the following:
— Calendar. Hang a paper calendar so everyone can see what is going on and when. You can use online calendars, too. Set up reminders so you don’t forget any important dates.
— Folders. Each family member can have one. Important documents can go directly into the folders, preventing misplaced paperwork. It’s easy to go through a neat folder and know what to add to the calendar and what to keep, toss or discuss. Have kids use a school planner for homework and school projects, too. Check their homework and initial their planners.
— Dry erase board. Anyone can leave a quick note or reminder. You can include shopping lists, to-do lists, phone numbers, chores or missed phone calls.
— Hooks and bins. Use hooks for the most often-used backpacks, jackets, hoodies or coats. It’s much easier to place and pick up these items if they’re always in one spot. Have kids bring their lunchboxes to the kitchen and their activity bags to the laundry room, so their active wear can be washed and repacked in the bag.
One reader, Debbie E. from New Jersey, shares: “I have bins for each child. They put their backpacks in the bins when they finish their homework. I have a clipboard hooked onto the wall for each school-age child. Any class lists, sports schedules or papers that need to be signed get posted there. You can also do this with a three-ring binder.”
— Table. Use for items such as cellphones, iPods and laptops. You can place smaller organizers on the table, such as baskets or even a shoebox, for keys, lunch money and wallets.
Consider days-of-the-week clothes organizers or outfit hangers for young children. Use a shoe organizer (an old bookshelf will work), so your morning isn’t spent looking for a misplaced shoe. Use an over-the-door organizer for winter hats and mittens. Organizers and containers don’t have to be fancy. Reuse baby-wipes containers, glass jars or a plastic ice-cream tub. A simple clothespin can be clipped to a purse, placemat, lunchbag or backpack to serve as a reminder to do something. You can even write a note on the clothespin with permanent marker.
CREATE A STUDY AREA:
The location can be anywhere you choose, but include an area such as a closet shelf or Rubbermaid tote to keep school supplies handy. Investing in an electric pencil sharpener is money well spent.
RULES AND CHECKLIST:
This can include a weekly meal plan, chores, instrument practice or bedtime routines.
MEALS AND SNACKS:
Designate a pantry or cabinet shelf specifically for lunch foods. In time, even young children can pack their own lunches. Get into the habit of making lunches the night before and including extra healthy snacks your kids can eat when they get home or on their way to activities. Have a few grab-and-go breakfast foods handy in a container for mornings when you’re running late.
Whether it’s a small discussion daily over dinner or a more formal meeting once a week (Sundays often work best), all family members must communicate to help things stay on track and keep everyone updated. Any scheduling conflicts or changes that are needed can be discussed before the upcoming week begins.