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Back To School Organization Tips

By Shari Mathias

Back to School can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. These Back To School organization tips and ideas will help you can take some of the stress out of this hectic time.

Start Early

Nothing adds stress to a situation like doing everything at the last minute. So start early this year – at least 4 weeks early. Starting your Back to School preparations early will allow you to tackle each task one at a time.


Avoid last minute panic by going through school packets and information several days before they are due. Note important dates on a calendar.


Feeling overwhelmed? Scale back and work on something small. Instead of trying to organize a whole room in one day, start with one drawer.


Get Back Into Routines

Most families have different routines during the summer than during the school year. That can make adjusting to school-year mealtimes, bedtimes, and TV watching difficult. Reintroducing routines early and slowly can ease everyone into the new schedule.

Starting 2 weeks before the first school day:

  • Reintroduce school year bedtime and wake late sleepers earlier and earlier.
  • Schedule mealtimes to coincide with school times.
  • Set out clothes for the next day the night before.

Have questions? Your pediatrician can often be a great resource for tips and advice bedtimes, television viewing habits, and behavior.

Stock Up On Supplies

Stocking up on school supplies may seem like a no-brainer, but how you do it can make all the difference. Start early and don’t forget the list your child’s school provided.

  • Buy highly used school supplies in bulk so you don’t run out at an inconvenient time.
  • Shop for that school backpack early before your child’s favorite color or style sells out.
  • Don’t forget to stock up on food items like snacks and lunchbox essentials so you don’t spend the first week running back and forth to the store.

For clothes, create an inventory of what the kids have and what they need. Turn it into a fun activity by having the kids try on everything in a “Back to School” fashion show complete with music.

Designate a Homework Station

You know it’s important. You want to instill that sense of importance in your children so they put in their best effort. So why not create a homework area that not only has everything they need, but also accommodates their studying style?

Designate an area for homework and put tools and supplies nearby in a drawer, cabinet, bin, or basket including paper, pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, a ruler, a calculator, a dictionary, and markers.

When choosing the homework station, take into account your child’s learning style. Does he or she study better with a little noise or complete silence? Does he or she do better at a table or curled up in a comfy area with a lap desk.

Create A System For Papers

School, particularly grade school, can bring with it an almost constant stream of papers including permission slips, schedules, lists, contact information, references, and, of course, graded homework and your child’s artwork. Creating a system to organize all this paperwork can help you stay sane throughout the school year.

  • Create incoming and outgoing boxes or bins. Make a habit of going through the incoming box regularly and signing and putting permission slips right away into the outgoing box.
  • Create a binder or file for reference papers like class rules, kids’ schedules, and contact information and another binder or file for homework and artwork to keep.

Have multiple kids? Color code tabs onto the files for each of your kids. Color coding tabs is also helpful for helping kids in middle and high school organize papers by class.

Consider New Ways To Remember Things

Getting the kids out the door in the morning can be almost as hectic as preparing for Back To School in general. Here are some simple ways to help you remember things:

  • Write down all the family members’ activities on a calendar and hang it in a central location. Color code activities by family member.
  • Dig out and fill in the classic to-do list for each day and hang by the door.
  • Put reminders by the door to remember special items or notes (gym shoes, permission slip, sports equipment, etc.). Better yet, put those items by the door the night before.
  • Create a school backpack station in an entryway for backpacks, coats, etc. Make sure each child hangs their backpack there before they go to bed.

If you think you’ll forget something, put it next to your keys.

Don’t forget that keeping yourself organized and less stressed during this time will help both you and your kids stay positive.

Put A Positive Spin On It

Turn those grumbles, gripes, and moans into something more positive by talking to your kids and getting them involved in the Back To School preparations. Start by talking to your kids about the upcoming year.

  • For young kids, look up your child’s class on the Internet (if available) and talk about the fun things he or she will learn. Extra Credit: Schedule trips to museums and other activities related to their upcoming lessons.
  • Talk about old friends they’ll see again and new friends they’ll make.
  • Reassure anxious kids that many other children have these feelings too.

Consider getting the kids involved in the process.

  • Talk to them about what they want to do for after-school activities so they feel like they have a voice.
  • Install low coat hooks near an entryway (or in the backpack station) so kids can hang their own coat and backpack when they get home.
  • Carve out a spot on a low shelf to store lunch boxes and lunch making supplies so your kids can help make their own lunches.