Yes, it's already time to start thinking about school again. Getting a head start can pay big dividends for you and your kids as they head back to class. But, it's not just what they need for school that matters. It's what they need at home too.
Here are five things you can do to ensure your kids have a great learning environment at home, while you have a great living environment.
1. Designate a homework space.
Set up an inviting spot for your child to work and study. It should have plenty of light, be stocked with the needed supplies and be located in a quiet place without too many distractions, though keep in mind that kids may work better with a parent nearby. You'll be able to assist when needed and ensure that they stay on task.
2. Set up a system for school stuff.
Have kids put their backpacks in the same place each day when they get home. When they need materials, they go to where their backpack "lives" and don't have to hunt around. Before bedtime, everything goes back to the designated spot to minimize morning scrambling. Similarly, you should create a filing system for homework, forms and completed items. No more rooting around for 15 minutes trying to find that permission slip.
3. Eliminate clutter as much as possible.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but it's important. "Most kids are able to focus better when there are fewer distractions in their home environment," says professional organizer Stacy Erickson of Home Key Organization in Seattle. So this is a great time for you to let go of some things you haven't used for a while, as well as things your kids have outgrown or no longer like. For the best results, Erickson says, clear out stuff before going on the annual back-to-school shopping spree.
4. Consider using a family calendar.
Limiting physical clutter is great, but what about those cluttered calendars? Families can easily get bogged down and confused by schedules that seem to have activities and events every night of the week. An easily accessible dry-erase calendar, or even a sheet you print weekly and post on the fridge, will keep everyone on the same page.
5. Once you're in good shape, do a weekly sweep.
Taking that first step to getting organized is the daunting part. So once you've tackled the monster, don't let the clutter build up again. Everyone – including kids – should sort through papers and other items each week to stay on top of things.
By getting organized, you'll be setting your kids up for success and saving yourself a couple of things that historically are in short supply for parents: your time and sanity!