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School: And the Livin' is Easy...If You're Organized!
Cape Cod Parent and Child
August • September 2006
By Nicole Gabai
President of B. Organized!
Just when you
thought summer would last forever – suddenly you’re shaking the
sand out of your shoes and gearing up the whole family for school
again. Do you know where the notebooks are? How about the #2
still have a little time before the school year begins in order to
get everyone organized. Read on and you’ll find some great tips
and ideas for creating a strong foundation of organizational systems
as well as good habits for you and your family to use throughout the
school year and beyond.
not something taught in school but luckily it’s something that can
be learned. It’s a skill much like any other. No matter how old
they are, it’s never too early or too late to start instilling
good organizing habits in your children. Since kids of all ages and
stages of development have different needs here are some ideas for
young children and teenagers, too.
change and grow so quickly and in the process, accumulate lots of
stuff. So for them, you need to do an annual sort and purge. If it
didn’t happen at the end of the last school year, then now is the
perfect time. As they go off to school, the key element here is to
start instilling the simplest organizational habit of all –
putting things away where they belong. And that means creating a
home for everything. For example, when they come home from school,
get your kids in the habit of taking things out of their pockets and
should give school information and schedules to you. One way to keep
general information sorted and organized is to maintain a bulletin
board in a common area on which to affix handy items such as
invitations, theatre tickets and important phone numbers. Remember
to find something you think is attractive. A great resource is
Ballard Designs or PB Kids. You’ll be much more inclined to use
the things you love.
To keep tabs on kids’ schedules, you can print out each timetable,
ie: soccer practice, swim meets, ballet class, etc. and slip each
one into clear plastic sleeves and attach them with a metal ring and
hang them on the bulletin board so you can easily flip through them.
organizing a child’s room, think in terms of zones and establish
only 3-4 zones in one room and store items at the point of use. For
example, zones could include a reading/desk area, a play area, a
clothing area, and the sleeping area. Keep all related items in each
zone. The reading and desk area are all about books, school
supplies, awards and yes, even files starting at around age 7. If
your children have a desk with a file drawer, now is the time to set
it up. If not, you can buy handy file boxes at Staples or PB Teen
and have hanging files for each school subject clearly labeled and
file folders inside with the title printed again, ie: spelling,
reading, science, math, social studies, etc. File all current papers
here. This way when they take out the files, the hanging folder acts
as a place holder for easy filing later.
For a quick
at-a-glance view of “homework due” try a dry erase calendar
board and list all “current projects” and due dates for
assignments. Kids are far more likely to keep tabs on what projects
need attention if they can see the due dates, and you can better
guide them when you can see those dates too. Children’s desks
should also be well stocked for supplies so they are not constantly
running over to your desk for the tape or scissors.
A good basic supply list looks like this:
PENS (that work, toss out the duds)
TAPE WITH A GOOD DISPENSER
GOOD PEN CUP
THUMB TACKS (FOR THE BULLETIN BOARD)
Make sure you
have a place for their “creations” - create a memento box where
all the best-of projects can be stored. Choose the ones that truly
represent each child. Try exposuresonline.com or Gaylord archival supplies
for affordable archival-quality boxes and albums. If the art project
is too big or 3-D, consider taking photos of the best ones and
creating a photo album to archive memories.
If you would
rather display the work than store it, dedicate one wall in your
house (not the refrigerator) to your child’s work, so they can
hang their special artwork during the year on a rotating basis.
Another option is to affix metal strips on the wall and use magnets
to hang the work. This avoids messy tape spots on the wall or push
for books and open containers for toys, all within their reach, so
they learn to put their own things away.
a proper place to work such as a good desk with room for a computer
and space to spread out papers, shelves for books and a filing
cabinet. Before the school year starts, be sure they have the tools
they need. At the beginning of the school year, start the year off
right and sort through last years school work, and only save and
file the papers they got an “A” on.
The best of
schoolwork and artwork can be saved in a single banker’s box
(cardboard box with a lid available at Staples). This box can have a
folder for each school year. During the year, all your child’s
potential treasures can go in a plastic crate on the closet floor
and then in June spend a couple of hours sorting through the crate,
picking only as many highlights as will fit in that folder. By the
end of high school, you’ll have a hand-picked history of your
child’s school experience.
For the family
use of the computer – make sure to assign a drawer or section of a
drawer for each person using the space. The use of a “step file”
on the desk for commonly used files will help everyone locate their
paperwork quickly. Keep on-hand adequate supplies mentioned above.
Make sure you
have a bulletin board just for your notes and reminders and tickets
to family events. Each child would benefit from having a bulletin
board in their rooms for their own mementos.
effective home management system is the first step in getting
everyone else at home organized. You’ll need a few filing drawers,
at least. Your goal is to create an intuitive and logical filing
system for easy retrieval, (what would you think of if you were
looking for this particular piece of paper?) The best way to achieve
this is to have a filing system that goes from A-Z. Everything in
between will fall into categories, ie: Insurance (your main
category) can have several sub-files within this, like: life, auto,
health, home owners.
Use lots of
file folders, as many as necessary. Don’t skimp here since they
cost only about $5 for a box of 100. Be very specific on your
categories and sub-files. Also, I suggest investing in a label maker…you
can find a very basic one for under $50 at Staples. The more
beautiful and neat your system is, the more likely you are to use
tool in your home-management system is a mail sorter box. Don’t
try to retrain yourself to do what you don’t normally do. Organize
and put containers where you naturally place your mail and other
items. Depending on the volume in your household, you may want to
have 2 of these side by side. It should stand upright and have
several compartments. One section for incoming catalogues (magazines
should have a home either in the bathroom and/or in an attractive
container in the living area.) Other sections can be used for “bills
to be paid” or “correspondence.” You always want to file,
store or keep papers vertically. Avoid horizontal filing as much as
possible (ie: piles of papers) since it’s impossible to see what
is in a pile.
system is in place, remember to re-evaluate your categories and file
names and adjust them as needed. Also, reserve about 15 minutes
daily for filing and maintenance. And remember to assign a home for
everything in your space. A happy home is an organized home. Those
final days of summer can mean a whole new opportunity to be
organized, offering you and your family increased joy and serenity
in your home. Happy organizing!
Gabai is the president and founder of B. Organized!, a company
specializing in innovative solutions for your home, office
(especially paper intensive environments) and children’s rooms.
The company also handles moves and relocations. She has owned the
company for seven years and was previously based in New York City.
She is now based in Falmouth and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
508.532.2715. She is offering a class on organizing at the
Falmouth night school in the fall. In addition to working closely
with her clients, providing customized solutions, Nicole also
presents workshops and seminars on how to get yourself organized.
Her work is widely recognized throughout the northeast, from Maine
to New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to Tennessee and Miami and
internationally in Peru and Mexico.
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