It’s never too early to begin teaching our kids organizing skills that they will use the rest of their lives. A common area of frustration is with their school work. Not only are school performance and self esteem affected by poor organization skills but the home environment can be negatively impacted as well. I highly recommend the book “The Organized Student” by Donna Goldberg. She is an expert in the field of Student Organizing and I refer to her advice often when working with parents and students. A few organizing solutions to make your school year flow a little more smoothly are discussed below. Color Coding
--Have your student choose ONE color per class and use this consistently for spiral notebooks, binders and file folders. This greatly helps the student grab the correct notebook. Desk top file box
--Jr. high and high school students should have a desk top file in which they organize and store papers they may need to refer to as the school year progresses. For this project, you’ll need a desk top file box, 10-12 hanging file folders-preferably in various colors and plastic tabs for labels.
- Label hanging files for each subject and keep this somewhat generic so that you can use the same file year to year. For example, instead of labeling “Geometry” or “Algebra”, label “Math”.
- Papers to be filed in these folders may include any thing that will help your student study for midterms, finals and end-of-year exams or any projects..... currently working on.
- You may want to add a school calendar to the front of the box so your student can see upcoming test days, school holidays,etc.
- Keep this file box near where your student does his homework.
- Include files for the student’s extra-curricular activities. This is great practice for your student to begin taking responsibility for their activities.
As with most other organizing projects, setting up the file box is easy. It’s maintaining the new systems that can be difficult. It takes at least a month for a new habit to be formed. Be consistent and set the same day/time each week to have your student go through his back pack and file what is to be kept long-term and toss the rest.
One benefit of making an organized paper filing system for the students is that it will lighten the load of the heavy backpacks that most of our students carry around each day. Another benefit is teaching them the lifelong value of being organized and being responsible for their things. Your student will use these organizing skills in all aspects of their future lives. Next week, we’ll talk about time management for your student.
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Now that school has started, you are probably becoming inundated with papers that your students bring home each day. As the pile grows, your countertop becomes cluttered and you can’t find the paper you need when you need it. Below are a few simple paper managing systems that can help your countertops stay free and clear.
In Basket - Purchase a basket or vertical tray in which kids place paperwork when they get home. This may take some training to get them into the habit and may take discipline on your part to check the basket daily. You may want to add an “Out” basket/tray for signed papers that need to be returned to school. Make it your child’s responsibility to check this basket daily.
As you sort through the papers that your child has placed in the basket, you must decide if you need to keep or toss the paper. When making this decision, think about whether the information can be found online. Is it information that you will be frequently referring to? If you decide to keep the paper, the next question is where. I suggest creating a Family Binder and a Command Center.
Family Binder - Purchase a 3-ring binder, page protectors and dividers. Think of this binder as a guide to anyone who may take over your “job” for a few days. Papers to include in this binder are: School calendar, lunch menus, bell schedules, bus #’s, times and stops, phone number lists of neighbors, doctors, babysitters, kids’ friends, coaches, and kids’ physicals and other medical information. Divide into categories such as “School”, “Medical”, “Church”, “Sports”, etc. Include plastic business card holders for contacts that you frequently call. Basically, this binder organizes and stores any papers that you or family members may need to refer to. This is NOT for paper that can be filed in a permanent file or that will be kept for a short time.
Command Center - I recommend purchasing an upright or desktop file box and 12 file folders to create this. There are a variety of desktop files available at office supply stores or discount stores. Many have a slot for pens/pencils and note paper. Label one folder for each child. The children’s folders are a great place to store incomplete homework, field trip or camp information, etc. Other folders can be labeled “Coupons”, “To File”, “To Call”, “Action”, “Invitations”, etc. The Command Center will store papers that have a “limited shelf life” in your home. The key to The Command Center is that you must go through it regularly. As stated before, the paper only lives here temporarily so you must decide to move the paper to a permanent file, the Family Binder or toss/recycle.
If you walk by a typical teenager’s room, you’re lucky if you can see the floor. It may be covered with clothes, books, backpacks and electronics. The goal of organizing your teen’s room is having a “home” for all of their belongings. It’s very important to involve your teen in this process. LIsten to them and get their input. Ask them how they best study. If space allows, create different areas for the various functions such as studying, reading, sleeping. Consider the 5 tips below to help in the process of organizing your teen’s room.
1) Designate a charging station for cell phones, Ipods, etc.
2) Set up a desk top file for school papers that need to be kept for year-end exams and paperwork for extra-curricular activities they’re involved in.
3) Designate a study area with a clear work space and school supplies.
4) Sort clothing by like items, teach kids how to hang properly. Use baskets and organizing containers for flip flops, hats/caps.
5) Encourage teens to keep a calendar/planner whether on paper or on their phone.
Getting your teen’s room organized may be relatively easy. Keeping it organized is the tricky part. Make a checklist of tasks your child needs to complete daily and weekly to maintain their organizing systems. Most importantly, articulate the advantages of being organized and be a role model for them by respecting your space and belongings.
Spring is in the air and many of us are enjoying the budding trees and the flowers blooming. It's a perfect time to take a look at how we can be kinder to the earth with the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. One very simple way to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle is to incorporate paper and mail organizing strategies in your home. Below are some easy ways to reduce the paper clutter and do your part in conserving earth's resources.
-The first step is reducing the amount of paper that comes into your home. Begin by opting out of unwanted mail. https://www.catalogchoice.org/
This is a win win situation because it reduces the clutter in your house as well as helping the environment. Both of these are free services so you have nothing to lose. Another option for those of you that have a smart phone, is a new app that I recently started using called Paper Karma https://www.paperkarma.com/
. This is free and easy to use because you simply take a picture of the mail that you no longer want to receive. The people at Paper Karma contact the Mailer and remove your name from the distribution list.
-Online billing is another strategy to reduce paper in your home. Automatic bill pay is similar to online billing/banking and can eliminate any late fees Both of these banking/billing options not only reduce printing and mailing expenses but also save time, postage, and potential late fees.
-Access newspapers and magazines online. Many of the newspapers and magazines that you may subscribe to will be accessible on an e-reader or computer. Often times, the online subscription rate is less expensive than receiving the paper version. Also, if you notice that newspapers and magazines are piling up and going unread, stop the subscription and see if you really miss it.
-Lastly, We receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail each year. Recycle all unwanted paper that doesn’t need to be shredded including old phone books, newspapers and even cereal boxes. You’ll be keeping the paper out of the landfill and saving trees. About 500,000 garbage truck loads dump junk mail into landfills and incinerators every year.
Next week, I'll continue with eco-friendly organizing strategies in honor of Earth Day. I would love to hear what you and your family are doing to live a "greener" life. Comment below.
In the blog last week, I mentioned that receipts should be kept in a dedicated file or envelope. But what receipts should you keep and what is the easiest way to organize them?
In general, receipts for groceries and toiletries don't need to be kept. Receipts for clothing and other household items until the receipt expires. Some products offer warranties and in this case the receipt should be kept for the lifetime of the warranty. Receipts for expensive items such as electronics, furniture, jewelry, etc. should be kept as long as you own the item.
Some options for filing your receipts include an expandable file, a coupon holder or an index card box. Some people scan their receipts so they have a copy on their computer then shred the original. Choose the method or container that's easiest for you. Below are the five steps to keep your coupons organized.
STEP 1 - Designate an easily accessible spot to store receipts.
STEP 2 - Determine categories - The categories will be different for everyone. Examples of receipt categories that may work for you are home improvement, business expenses, medical, entertainment, clothing and household, car repair, electronics, etc.
STEP 3 - Label individual sections with the categories. This is key so that all family members can easily add their receipts to the proper section of the file.
STEP 4 Maintain - Go through each month to throw/shred expired receipts.
STEP 5 Each time you get a receipt, file it in the appropriate section of the file.