Tag Archives: organization

10 Ways to Organize at the Start of a New School Year

Back to School

Ok, my children are in second and fourth grade.  I have put this off long enough.  I have been trying to find a workable system to keep track of appointments, school events, paperwork, things that are to keep at home, things to return to school, and so forth.  So…finally I have committed to doing this for 2014-2015 school year.  Go me…lol.  Better late than never!

This year I have started some new things in an effort to start getting my family more organized.  Here is my list of projects:

  1. Notebooks for each child.  Name, teacher’s name, grade, school year and school will go on the front page.  Name and year on the spine – if I can get that arranged.  In each:
    • Page with school address, telephone number, fax, school nurse name and contact information, and hours.  I will also put the teacher, her email address, contact number (phone extension) and hours I can reach her.
    • Copy of the school system calendar for the year, along with information on make-up day schedules
    • Section for correspondence with the teacher and with the nurse as needed
    • Section for IEPs, report cards, etc.
    • Section for notes from meetings and the like
    • Section for papers to save
  2. Create a place to save special artwork and larger documents.  Ideas include:
    • Files in a file cabinet
    • File specially designed for the purpose
    • Frame that allows you to easily rotate artwork out
  3. Put together a “study basket” with necessary materials (not all of these apply to my son, who is 9, but would be good for older kids):
    • Pens
    • Pencils/pencil sharpener
    • Eraser
    • Scratch paper
    • Calculator
    • Loose-leaf paper and clipboard
    • Crayons
  4. Organize school lunches.  One thing my husband and I have started doing is making up snack bag servings of sides and treats for lunch boxes for about a week at a time.  Sunday evening is when my husband usually gets these ready; we’ve broken down getting-ready-for-school activities – he gets lunches ready and I feed and dress the kids in the morning.
  5. For next year, I want to try following a checklist that I found here.  Mind you, the actual checklist is one on a list of organizational ideas linked from other locations.  Still, it breaks down all the different things you need to do to get ready ahead of time for the start of a new school year.  Great checklist to follow!
  6. Organize the calendar.  Put all of the appointments, school events (print out school system calendar as soon as its available), and family events – then color-code by individual.  It makes it so much easier to see at a glance who is doing what during the week.  Also, find out if there are any due dates known up front for applications to things, deadlines to have information in by, and the like – add those to the calendar and highlight in their own color!
  7. Designate a place in your house to store school supplies and store them there.  At the end of the year, place the unused supplies there as well – next year, you may not need to buy as much.
  8. Clean off the fridge and start the new school year fresh.  Put the new school calendar or class calendar for the month up, list of school supplies, and a plastic bag for box tops.
  9. Establish the daily routine early.  Kids do so much better with a regular schedule, especially a lot of special needs children.  Get them into the routine of doing homework first, relaxing, going outside and playing, dinner with the family (as much as possible with multiple schedules…sigh), and taking a bath.  Develop a bedtime routine for younger children and try to be consistent, even on the weekends.
  10. Establish a checklist near the door, if possible.  Ask some questions before leaving the house, or before breakfast:
    • Does anyone need lunch money?
    • Does anyone need money for a field trip?
    • Are lunches in backpacks?
    • Is homework where it is supposed to be?
  11. Establish good routines EARLY in the year.
    • Make sure everyone has enough time in the morning for everything that needs doing: getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth, and making sure everything is in backpacks.
    • Adjust after the first few days.  Get homework and supplies for the next day at night and put it in the backpack.
    • Lay out clothes, if necessary.
    • Get older children to help with younger ones, if possible – or to help with getting breakfast materials out and on the table.,
    • Keep bedtime at the same time as much as possible.
  12. A few extra tips:
    • Keep the school’s list of supplies that are needed each year.  If you maintain a file, it should help limit buying multiple items like calculators, rulers and so on that can carry over from one year to the next.
    • Make sure your child has a school planner.  Some schools are starting this process on their own; my son’s third grade class actually provided one.  If they don’t, start teaching your child to use one early.  There is a wide selection out there and many for different grade levels.
    • Some families use a checklist for each family member – morning checklist, homework or afternoon checklist, night checklist.
    • Consider using a hanging shoe organizer to keep scarves, gloves, water shoes, and other small things handy.
    • Organize your pantry and make sure you have supplies for easy meals.

School supplies

I will say that my circumstances – having a special needs child that gets into everything and pulls things off of the wall – changes the way I do things.  I have seen a LOT of ideas online for creating a communication center where put correspondence from the school that needs responses from parents or signatures, things that need to be paid, and the like.  I’ve seen suggestions for giant calenders on the wall, where you can put color-coded appointments for each family member.  All of those are great ideas, but unworkable for me, unfortunately.  At any rate, here are some suggested sites for good organizing ideas for families without the complications that our family faces:

Simplify101 – Back To School Organizing Tips

Babycenter – 12 Ideas for Back-To-School

 

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Really Good Websites (December 2008)

  1. Picasa – this isn’t a website but hey…it is really useful.  I’ve been using it for several years now and just updated to Picasa 3.  I LOVE it.  Picasa is a Google product.
  2. Stepcase Lifehack – what caught my eye was this article on over 100 Quick and Easy Healthy Foods.  In light of the holidays, I was looking for quick and easy meals, but I also wanted healthy meals.  This is what I discovered: pretty much something for everyone.
  3. Be Well at Stanford – this is a wonderful site with communities, tips, articles, and so much more.  You can join for free and get personalized news and track your goals, but you can also read the articles without joining.  Go take a bit of time and explore – there are communities for health, fitness, green living, stress management, allergies, and so much more.
  4. Dumb Little Man – fantastic site.  Lots of interesting articles.  The article that caught my eye was 30+ Useful Websites You Probably Didn’t Know About, but there is so much more here.  Their purpose is to provide a handful of tips weekly – on a variety of subjects.  When I looked at the site (very recently), I found articles on differentiating between “real” wants and “should” wants – if only I had read that about 20 years ago!  I also like the fact that you can easily find articles by theme, as well as the most popular.  Go check it out – there is a lot of good reading there.  Another plus: it is possible to submit articles!
  5. What Should I Read Next – type in the name of the book you are reading and it will recommend books for you.  You can also register for more accurate results.
  6. Make Use of – This is a wonderful site – full of a wide range of information.  It describes cool websites and software, and has internet tips as well.  There are categories such as Browsers/Addons, Lists of tools, Windows, Gaming,  and Mac.  One article I found particularly interesting was Store Your Thoughts, Ideas, and Anything Else in Your WikiPad.  I highly recommend checking it out – you can even subscribe.
  7. Simply Checklists – if you want a pre-made checklist or if you want to make sure you haven’t left something important off the one you came up with, this is the site for you.  There are work checklists (like Interview Checklist), sports/hobbies  checklists like Day Hiking, and Emergency and Storm checklists.  Pretty helpful, if you ask me!
  8. Amusing Facts – this is, well, an amusing site.  Good for passing time, filling in a bit here and there.  I don’t know if everything there is true or not, but I read a wide range of amusing tidbits and followed up with “more detail” when I found something that really interested me.  There is a wide range of categories from Entertainment to Household Products to Food and Drink.  I don’t know that I would spend hours there, but when I have five or ten minutes to kill, this would be a good place to spend them!
  9. Instructables – ok, this is a terrific website and I would spend a TREMENDOUS amount of time here … if I had it.  Still, it is going to be bookmarked.  Categories of how-to’s include Crafts, Food, Games, Home, Offbeat, Outdoors, Science, and Tech.  I saw any number of things under crafts that I want to try and others under Offbeat I just want to take a closer look at.  Trust me, there is something for just about anyone here!
  10. Solitaire Central – ok, this one will NOT increase your productivity.  It won’t make you a well-rounded individual.  It is entertaining, though, and sometimes that is all that matters.   There are solitaire rules, downloads, and online versions – quite a selection of those, by the way.  Check it out, when you have some time!
  11. Orisinal – this is a wonderful site for cute, simple games.  I’ve loved this one for years, and I felt I should share it with others who may not have found it yet.   Cranky Crabs and Pocketful of Stars are two of my favorites.
  12. 43 Folders – this is one of those “I’ll check it out now and then, when I need something” sort of sites.  I won’t necessarily read everything on it, but I will “graze” through it, searching for the nudge I need, the inspiration I need to push me to get moving.

I’m afraid this month’s edition of my list is a short one, due to the holiday and all the “hustle and bustle” involved.  I have two children – both under 4 – so my time has been short.  I hope you enjoy my selections.  If you have any recommendations, please feel free to drop me a note or comment.

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Really Useful Websites (March 2008)

This month’s tidbits (yes, I think some might just be a bit odd – but sometimes that is an amusing thing):

  1. Listography: Yes, I’m one of those people – I make lists. I make lists of lists. Naturally, I think this is a wonderful site. You can make wish lists, top ten lists, autobiographical lists, to do lists, and goal lists, among others. There is even a topic generator!
  2. For those who like jigsaws, there is JigZone. They have puzzle of the day, puzzles across the top of the page, and you can sort through categories as well. You can also upload your own pictures. On top of that, you can choose unusual cuts for the puzzle pieces, like USA, lizards, and bulbs!
  3. On a completely different, and more serious note, I found a wonderful site called CaringBridge. They provide free websites to anyone going through a health crisis; it makes it tremendously easy to update family and friends about changes, procedures, progress made, etc. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered the usefulness of this site through a cousin’s cancer crisis, but I can say that I have used this site and I find it wonderful. It makes it so much easier on the family – they post the update on the site and people who have signed up for updates get an email notifying them of the change.
  4. From Texas Women’s University, I found the following page: 52 Proven Stress Reducers. I found this page to be full of helpful suggestions and I highly recommend it if you are having stress issues.
  5. Grocery Lists – this is an amusing site; this guy collects lost grocery lists. He started posting the ones he found and it has led to an online “thing” – apparently people submit the lost lists that they find. It has some interesting things on it: the top 10 found lists, lists of gift ideas, selections from the book, etc. It is quirky, but worth a look at.
  6. Google Page Creator – this is a great, easy way to create a simple web page. I’ve got several now. I’ll grant you that I don’t think you can get terribly complicated with this, and for professionals, this isn’t what you want, more than likely. I think this is perfect for someone who wants to play around, to create a simple page just to see what it is like.
  7. Every Day Giving – do I need to say more?
  8. Off The Mark Cartoons – I’ve found this artist’s work amusing, and I have purchased items from him via CafePress. He, or the people working for him, have been very responsive. Really, there should be a cartoon there for any interest.
  9. The Arcata Eye Police Log – really amusing writing style for a not-normally-interesting thing. Really worth a look – there are frequent chuckles.
  10. A bowling score calculator – this can come in handy, particularly if you are taking a “physical education” class in college…
  11. The Family Car Web Magazine: I have found some good information here. I do have to say that I am not a mechanic, nor do I play one on TV, so … while take that under advisement. Still, I found this site very helpful.
  12. The Vermont Country Store – ok, I love this catalog and the site. I have not actually ordered from them but they have some GREAT stuff and a good deal of items that are “old fashioned” – i.e., they might appeal to older folks as nostalgic gifts! Then there is the humor aspect of the site. Just so much fun to browse. And I, as I said, love their catalog as well. (Hey, they’ve got “Body on Tap” shampoo – you know, from the 70s and 80s!)
  13. After the Baby Arrives: this is a CDC page and it contains links to information on all sorts of information that new parents may be interested in. They range from breast feeding information to vaccination schedule and child development.
  14. Moms On Edge – this is a blog and I found some helpful tips on organization in this post, but they also have a wide range of categories, including an “Ask Moms On Edge”, surveys, movie reviews, and behavior.
  15. Creative Homemaking: this site contains a variety of tips on organizing, from organizing menus for a month to clutter control, seasonal organization, travel and vacation, and kids clutter (among others).

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