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Get Organized! A Back to School Checklist for Parents


Are you ready for another frantic and disorganized school year? Are you just itching to be bombarded with a pile of paperwork? Do you love getting calls from your distraught child who left his trombone at home? No, no, and no? Then you'd better get organized! This school year, start off on the right foot with routines that will help your child be ready for school each day and make your life easier. We'll show you the easy steps your family can take for optimum Back to School organization.

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By Traci Geiser

This is the year you are really going to do it. No more lost permission slips, no more late library books, and no more scrambling because your child forgot her dance shoes. Having systems in place is what will make the biggest difference. Without organization, you’ll be fighting a losing battle all year long. Try these ideas to start the school year off on the right foot.

Build the Launch Pad

Designate a “launch pad area” near the front door where you keep items that come and go on a daily basis. Write a checklist of all the items your child will need for the day and post it here. Include everything: lunch box, backpack, water bottle, jacket and shoes. (Yes, even shoes!) If possible, have a hook for each child and a place for footwear. Getting out the door in the morning is half the battle!

Bag It Up

For each extracurricular activity your child has—dance class, soccer practice, music lessons—invest in a separate tote bag. After clothes have been washed, have your child put them into the appropriate bag. Make a list for each day of the week to include items needed for after-school activities. Have your child check the list each evening after dinner and gather all the items needed for the next day.

Pack Lunch Early

Have your child pack her next day’s lunch before she goes to bed. Children as young as 5 can make their own lunches with a little guidance from an adult. Provide a list of items to include—for example, one sandwich, one fruit, one veggie, a drink and a healthy treat. Not only will school days be more organized, but your child is more likely to enjoy lunch if she prepares it herself.

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Fuel Up Fast

Come up with a list of easy breakfasts, and set out items the night before. If it helps, make a breakfast schedule—do cereal on Mondays, oatmeal on Tuesdays, toast and fruit on Wednesdays, etc. Or, choose a day to make your kid’s favorite breakfast, which can provide a much-needed midweek pick-me-up or some Friday fuel to finish strong.

Save the Due Date

Designate a box for library books to live when they aren’t being read. Be sure to put your child’s library day or due date on your checklist so she will remember to put the books in her backpack the night before they are due.

Stock the Study Center

Stock a quiet area of your home with everything your kid needs for homework time: pencils, pens, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, a glue stick, a ruler, etc. Write down an inventory of all the supplies you own, so you can keep track of ones that have traveled to school and haven’t come back yet.

Create an Inbox

Put a box in a convenient spot where your family can deposit any papers that require your attention, like progress reports and permission slips. Managing your inbox daily will prevent those pesky last-minute scrambles. Let your child know she’s responsible for getting the papers to your inbox, which gives her a simple test of accountability.

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As the lazy days of summer come to an end, it’s a great time to make some “new school year resolutions.” In addition to making your life easier, you’ll be teaching your child how to be organized and stay on top of things.

Once you get organized, it’s time to get excited! Read this article for five fun ideas for celebrating the new school year.