How to Organize Kids’ School Stuff

Officially, school’s out for us in the BIG BUTTERFLY HOUSE (that’s what my kids call my house). But Expert Mommy, Claire and I have some homework for you! Last Friday, I came home with *gobs* of stuff from school for each of my kids — I’m talking grocery bags-full of stuff. And I remembered this great idea from our organizational expert, Claire Keeling!

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How to organize your families winter coats and boots

I have to admit a while back, I didn’t think we would have snow by the Holidays. Two weeks before Christmas I was still going out with just a light coat and shoes that are not snow friendly. Today is a different story, not just with me but also with my kids. All of a sudden they have to wear snow pants, boots, mittens, hats and winter coats to school! Fortunately I have those things for them by now but what about a place to put all the outerwear when the kiddies come home from school or in from playing in the yard? When we first moved into our house the door from the outside entered directly into my kitchen right by the refrigerator. I have to tell you it drove me nuts. There was a trail of hats, mittens, coats, snow pants and boots all through my small galley kitchen. There had to be a better solution that would work for everyone. Not to mention the baby carrier, my purse and all my things, where do I put them? After some grief and lots of thinking I arrived at a couple solutions and I think you can implement them into your own home too.

Solution 1.

If you have an entry like I did there is not any wall space to hang coats and such. I created a “drop zone just outside the door in my garage. Affixed with a boot mat and hooks in the wall for coats and snow pants. Yes, it is cold out there, but when I had a chance I would bring the items in and throw wet things in the dryer and set the boots to dry in our front entry. When the items were dry I hung them on hooks I screwed into the inside of the closet door. Three on the top part and 3 on the bottom so everyone could reach.

Solution 2.

If you have a small entry with either no closet or a small closet, hooks are your best friends. I like the hooks mounted 2 ways. One, hang in 2 parallel rows a high row and a low row. Second, one lower row can work well for all members of the family.  With these ways any child can reach the hooks to hang their own coat. A smaller child can use a step stool so you don’t have to hang the hooks to low and change often. Family hats and mittens can be stored underneath in individual bins, boot can be set next to them or on a boot tray in the hall way.

Solution 3.

This solution is for those of you that have a large hall closet or mudroom.  I am a firm believer in organizing systems. Check out Rubbermaid, Container Store and Ikea there are many organizing systems to choose from for every budget. These systems make the best use of space with many different solutions. You might want different cubbies for all the family members or a row of hooks with a shelf above and below. Whatever you choose examples of these configurations can usually be seen on the company’s individual websites.

Do you see, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with all the shoes and coats. All you need is a little direction and creativity. You are a smart cookie and any of these solutions will add a bit more peace to your everyday routine. Remember if the pile always ends up in one spot think about what you can implement to alleviate the pile and make life simpler for you, the busy, busy Mom. Cheers!

Expert Mommy, Julie Verleger

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How to Create an Organized Homework Space

Homework is a fact of life for most school kids and their parents. For me keeping my kids on track starts with creating a positive and well organized workspace. As a founder of a local neighborhood after school program, I’ve come up with a list of ideas I believe go along way to encouraging and enhancing homework completion.

First and foremost, develop an organized homework routine. In our house, timing is a big issue. My ten year old son needs to play for a while when he gets home, while my twelve year old daughter usually heads straight up to her room and starts her homework right way.

Either approach works great so long as there is some consistency regarding the time (and place) homework is done. Developing an organized schedule may also help avoid procrastination. Just because your child may not have homework on a particular night, doesn’t mean they can’t use their ‘homework time’ for pleasure reading or working on an upcoming project.

I’ve also learned having your child play a role in selecting where school work is done is VERY important. While a desk may work for one child, it may not work for another. The kitchen table may be a better option. Regardless of the location, it’s important to select a homework area with adequate lighting, one that is comfortable for working, and is as free from distractions as possible. Large, clutter-free work surfaces are best.

Homework time is also a good time for the whole family to pursue quiet activities e.g. paying bills, reading, writing etc. Not only does this provide a good work environment, it models positive behavior as your child sees you working at things that require effort. You may also consider a ‘no phone call’ policy during this time.

For more tips on helping your kids with their homework visit homework help.

If your child’s school doesn’t enforce the use of an organized homework agenda, create your own. Both agendas and checklists have become invaluable tools in our home. Keeping a running ‘to do’ list helps not only my kids stay organized and on top of assignments, but it reminds them about what materials they need to take to class. Crossing completed items off a list gives them a sense of accomplishment.

Help your child develop an organized homework plan and estimate together how long each assignment should take. Also assist him in prioritizing homework assignments in the order in which they should be done. Starting with one assignment or part of an assignment that isn’t too long or difficult is a good idea to give your child a sense of accomplishment.

Teach your child how to manage and organize his time, and how to structure long-term school projects. Understanding how to break down big assignments into smaller more manageable steps will be important to your child’s overall academic success.

Pay close attention to due dates. When dealing with assignments like science fair projects, your child should not only note project requirements and due dates but also his plan of attack. Post required steps like visits to the library or the purchase of materials.

Talk with your child about the importance of not leaving school until he checks his assignment list and makes sure he has any necessary books and materials.

Keep school supplies and storage areas organized. Making sure your child has all the necessary supplies shows him that you take his work seriously.

Help children stay organized by encouraging them to get in the habit of putting textbooks, binders, signed notes, and other necessary materials inside their backpack as soon as they are finished with them. And finally, keeping their backpack in the same location every night eliminates last minute panic.

For more creative organizing solutions visit www.familysanitysavers.com. Sherrie Le Masurier is a lifestyle columnist, organizing consultant, and co-owner of www.decorating-kids-rooms.net, a website geared to organizing and decorating kids’ rooms.