Back to School Organization Tips

Back to School Organization Tips

“Don’t you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” Tom Hanks – “You’ve Got Mail”

Traditionally, the new school year is met with equal parts excitement and anticipation. Shopping for new school supplies, re-aligning routines, and organizing the home, are all part of the “back-to-school” build-up. This year however, the return to school may look a little different. Your children may be going back to the classroom, attending school virtually, or perhaps home-schooling in your dining room. 

Whatever option you have chosen, getting your home organized before the school year begins will set you and your children up for success. These back-to-school organization tips will help prevent stressful mornings, clutter-filled entryways, and some of the challenges associated with learning-from-home. Putting in a little effort now will ensure you have both a smooth transition, and a designated place for that bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.

Back-to-school organization tips – in-person learning:

The hustle and bustle of a new school year calls for a sense of readiness only organization can provide. The transition to a new classroom, new friends, and new experiences is made easier with a home prepared for the influx of paper, backpacks, and activity.

The bedroom closet:

  • Back to school also heralds in a new clothing season. T-shirts and shorts need to make room for sweaters and jeans, jackets and running shoes. Take a few minutes and go through everyone’s closet, removing the Summer clothes and making way for the items required for back to school. It is a good idea to donate anything in good shape, as your child will have outgrown these Summer clothes by next year. By spending time now to organize, you will ensure that every bedroom is decluttered from Summer and is ready for Fall.

  • A great idea for avoiding the morning stress of outfit-picking, is to sit down on a Sunday evening with your child and choose together what he/she will wear everyday that week.

    • Label wooden hangers with the days of the week and place each outfit in order. Place your child’s underwear in a Ziploc bag, poke a hole through it, and hang it on the hanger as well.

    • The pre-selected outfits can also be placed in individual compartments in an over-the-door-organizer, either in the closet or behind the bedroom door.

  • For children who enjoy a little more independence, provide a photo of what needs to be included in a complete ensemble. To make it easier for them to coordinate outfits, clothing can then be hung in wardrobe capsules (a small collection of individual outfits) or by colour, season, or sleeve and pant length.

  • Carabiners can be used in a closet to hang belts, hair elastics, and flip flops.

  • For those children with a large collection of hair accessories, tackle boxes offer a great organizational solution.

The bathroom:

Mornings always include a stint in the bathroom. By keeping both the bathroom and the routine organized, your family can get out the door with a minimum of stress.

  • Create a bathroom schedule and assign a timeslot for each member of the family. This structure will prevent any arguments and allow your children to feel in control of their morning.

  • Make a bathroom caddy for each child. Include everything he/she will need such as a face cloth, comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. These caddies can be stored either under the sink or in the bathroom closet.

  • Another option is to Velcro plastic cups to the inside of the bathroom cabinet door. These can be used to store each child’s toothbrush and toothpaste. Labelling each cup will prevent any mix-ups.

The Kitchen:

The kitchen is the hub of the house and as such, requires a lot of back to school organization.

  • Make the preparation of school lunches and snacks easier by creating a “prep station”. Store water bottles, plastic containers, and pre-portioned food in this one area.

  • Place grab-and-go items in the fridge. Wash and cut fruit and vegetables as soon as you get home from the grocery store and place them in clear containers for easy access. These grab-and-go items will not only help you prepare lunches quickly, but they will stave off the after-school-hunger-pangs as well.

  • To encourage older children to pack their own lunch, provide them with a photo of what is to be included in a healthy mid-day meal. They can then pick and choose their own lunch and sides. This again provides an opportunity for your children to feel in control of their day.

  • In the pantry, clear off a shelf and place large baskets full of healthy snacks. This designated self-serve “snack station” will be appreciated by hungry children after a long day.

  • Create a dedicated homework zone in the kitchen as well as a homework “caddy” for each A metal utility cart is perfect for this, as it has multiple levels and easy access. Not only will it keep the school-work items organized and within easy reach, but it will then roll out of the way once homework is done. Each child can help choose the colour of his/her cart, and fill it with his/her favourite pencils, pens, and markers. By organizing an after-school routine right from the beginning of the new year, it will establish good habits and alleviate stress for you and your child.

  • A kitchen is a great space for a communication hub. Choose a wall easily seen by everyone and place a calendar, and a white board, a pegboard, or a chalkboard on it. (A great idea is to make use of an empty space and create a chalkboard wall using Benjamin Moore® Chalkboard paint). This makes a convenient area for everyone to see the week’s menu, schedule, and important events.

    • Labeled baskets can be hung for each child to place their school communication in. With paperwork filed in one place, and with all family communication organized into one area, it will reduce clutter elsewhere in the house.

  • Use Sunday afternoon to meal-plan with the family. Involving your children in selecting the dinners, grocery shopping, and helping to prepare the meals ahead of time, ensures you, your children, and your week are off to a great start.

The entryway:

One of the keys to keeping your family organized is to create a functional entryway.

  • Ensure that everyone has their own designated area.

    • Add hooks, cubbies and additional storage for backpacks, coats, and shoes. Provide either a label or a photo to designate each child’s area.

    • Think about your family’s morning routine; plan to have everything that you will need, placed at the front door. For instance, if you always apply sunscreen before they leave for school, ensure the tube of sunblock is handy.

    • Store small tubes of hand sanitizer and masks in the entryway for easy access. Use this stockpile to slip extras into a pocket in every child’s backpack.

    • Establishing a habit of packing the backpacks the night before will help to create a less hectic morning routine.

The family vehicle:

Back to school organization does not need to stop at the front door. After all, your vehicle needs to transition from Summer trips to the beach, back to the school loading and unloading zone.

  • Over the back of the seats, hang organizational bags filled with healthy snacks, tissues, chargers, pencils, markers, hand sanitizer, and extra masks.

Back-to-school organization tips – at-home learning:

Transitioning your home into a space for learning can be a challenge. “Children’s cognitive associations with home are often tied to relaxation, fun, and family time. Their behaviours are different in this familiar and comfortable space as opposed to the more rigid classroom environment”. The solution? Create a clutter-free, organized area for learning. These back-to-school organization tips can help you create a nurturing space that will encourage, inspire, and motive your children.

  • Adhere to familiar morning routines to create a sense of school-day normalcy.

  • Utilize a “morning basket”, which includes age-appropriate activities such as books or colouring, to keep them occupied during breakfast. Encouraging each child to quietly ease into the school-day, will help them to transition from free-time to learning-time.

  • Add a school calendar to your family communication hub. If you are home-schooling, display the day’s agenda, assignments, and reading material.

  • Ensure each child has his/her own workspace and storage. Organization is essential to creating an environment conducive to learning.

    • Designate specific seating for each child; this prevents arguments and helps to create a routine. Ensure those requiring an electrical outlet have access to one.

    • For children sharing a table, minimize distractions with dividers. Each child can create their own using three pieces of poster board, decorated to their liking. These can be packed up at the end of the day, along with the day’s schoolwork.

    • Using a utility cart for school supplies will encourage your children to keep their area clear of clutter.

    • Organize each child’s assignments etc. with colour-coded file folders and binders.

    • Store reading material and ongoing projects in labeled bins.

    • Take advantage of vertical space and install shelving to help organize school supplies, books, and games.

Back to school organization focuses not only on the rooms in your home, but also on the habits you create for your family. Organizing your closets, bathroom, kitchen, entryway, and vehicle for back to school, will help to establish healthy routines.

Regardless of where your child’s classroom resides, organizing your home will ensure your children are ready to learn and enjoy another school year.

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