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The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time for all of us. There’s a reason we charge our cameras and cell phones the night before to be sure we’re ready for those first-day-of-school photos. Watching our kids begin another year in their education and slowly transform into little adults can make us feel all sorts of emotions --- but mainly, proud.

Getting ready to start a new school year can also be a bit overwhelming at times if we’re not fully prepared. We start readjusting schedules the week before school begins and make sure clothes are picked out. We pack their backpacks and lunch boxes the night before, but what can we do to keep school mornings and evenings running smoothly for the rest of the year?

Thankfully, there are plenty of organization tips and tricks, from staying on schedule to making sure they’re sent to school with a healthy lunch, to help you. We’ve collected our favorite tips for staying organized to help your family get back in the school-year groove.

Stay Organized While you Stay Involved

Studies have shown children with involved parents tend to do better in school. A report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory concluded students whose parents are involved in their extra-curricular activities are more likely to:

  • Attend school regularly
  • Have better social skills
  • Earn higher grades
  • Pass their classes
  • Graduate
  • Attend post-secondary education

But the truth is, life gets busy and important events can be forgotten. Finding a system that works for you is the key to making even the busiest of schedules accomplishable.

1. Establish the System that Works for you

Some parents love a virtual calendar while others prefer to carry around a physical planner. There’s no right or wrong method as long as it works for you, but however you decide to keep yourself on schedule, be sure you carry your calendar around daily. Add in appointments, field trips, sporting events, etc. as soon as they arise so there’s no chance of forgetting.

2. Compile all Schedules into One

At the beginning of the year, collect the calendars distributed by your children’s schools and add every important date to your personal planner. Don’t forget to add birthdays, anniversaries and any other family events! You can use a pencil to write in any tentative dates so they can be easily adjusted if necessary. You can also establish a color-coding system if you find your planner is beginning to seem overwhelming. By choosing a unique color for each child, or separating your appointments by event type, you will be able to quickly and accurately plan your days.

3. Plan by Month & by Week

So many of us forget to use the monthly pages in our planners, but they make planning out so much easier, especially for the long term! Knowing what you need to do throughout the entire month will help you properly plan your weeks individually. Planning out the majority of your week before it begins will help you know exactly where you need to be and when, then you can make adjustments when necessary.

Simplify your Morning Routine

Nailing down a morning routine that works for you and your family is important to ensuring you all begin the day on a positive note. There always seems like there’s more to get done in the morning than you have time for. Set yourself up for successful, easy mornings with these prepped meals and other simple ideas.

1. Preparing Easy, Healthy Breakfasts

Making sure your children eat a healthy breakfast is essential to their academic success, but preparing a well-balanced meal can also be very time-consuming. Americans as a whole do not prioritize eating breakfast, in fact, a survey by the NPD Group found 31 million Americans skip breakfast on a regular basis. Finding the time to cook breakfast in the morning can seem near impossible, but there are plenty of meals that can either be cooked ahead of time or only take a few minutes to make. Check out some of our favorite healthy breakfast ideas on the Mom Junction blog, a community for Moms.

2. Planning Lunches

Planning and preparing your children’s lunches ahead of time will make your life easier and your kids will definitely thank you. Their academic performance will benefit from having a well- thought-out meal at lunchtime as they’ll have the energy they need to make it through the school day.

  • Rule #1: Prepare lunches in the evenings or on the weekends, not in the morning.
  • Rule #2: Plan their meals before you go to the grocery store.
  • Rule #3: Lunches should consist of a main course, such as a wrap, a sandwich or soup, their favorite fruits and veggies, and a healthy snack like trail mix or a granola bar.

Check out easy lunch ideas you can plan ahead on the Tastes Better from Scratch blog!

3. Label their Belongings

With so many kids in a single school all year long, things are often misplaced or lost entirely. It’s important to label all of their belongings, like their gym clothes or lunch boxes. But writing their name with your phone number on each individual item can become time-consuming, especially if you’re spending multiple children back to school! A personalized kid stamp is a great way to efficiently mark their possessions with their name so they’ll never lose them. Whether you’re looking for a cute and fun stamp to mark their books, artwork, paper, etc., you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at Simply Stamps.

4. Set up a “Command Center”

Establish an area near the front door where the kids can leave their backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, etc. You can create cubbies for each child or hang hooks from the wall. You can also hang paper organizers nearby for all of their paperwork. Assign a folder to each family member and when important papers are sent home, like a permission slip, newsletter, etc., they can leave it in your folder. Having a “command center” will eliminate the frantic search for their backpack, shoes or signed paperwork as you all head out the door in the mornings.

Homework & Study Tips

Getting your children to focus on homework or studying after a long day at school can be a challenge, but creating an atmosphere that promotes that importance is vital to a successful year. Technology has made it increasingly more challenging for students to focus on schoolwork. Psychology professor from the University of Michigan Dr. David Meyer said most students incorrectly think they can perform two challenging tasks at the same time.

“Under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time,” said Dr. Meyer. “Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook --- each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.”

1. Create a Homework/Study Space

Creating a space where they can focus solely on their assignments is the best thing you can do for your favorite students. Not only will having a designated study space eliminate distraction, but it will also keep the other areas of your home free of homework clutter. Be sure the space is at a table or desk as opposed to a couch or bed and equipped with everything they will need for homework/study time. There are endless tutorials for organizing study spaces, but our favorite DIY study caddy can be found on the Aunt Peaches blog!

2. Study Properly

Practicing proper studying techniques can make all of the difference. According to the University Network, our brain only effectively absorbs information during the first and last 15 minutes of studying. Have your children study in 30 minute increments to increase their likely hood of retaining the information more efficiently. This is also true for completing large projects. Breaking down what may seem like an overwhelming task and completing it a little bit at a time will make finishing assignments much easier.

3. Concentration Hacks

There are a variety of different ways in which essential oils can be useful, like creating a blend that actually increases concentration. You can mix drops into a water and add them to a spray bottle or use an aromatherapy diffuser, but the results will be the same. Mix two drops of peppermint oil, two drops of frankincense oil and two drops of orange oil for a blend that will improve your children’s concentration while studying. Bonus tip: turn on instrumental music quietly in the background --- it’s also a great aid for improving focus!

Heading Back to School

With a new school year just around the corner, we’ll all be taking those back-to-school photos before we know it. Get ready for another successful year for you and your family with these organization tips and make it the best one yet!