Get the School Supplies and Study Area in Order

July 28, 2016

Despite having spent about $50 in school supplies last year (not including clothing or other accessories like that), somehow we don’t have a single pencil in the house. My kid’s going to have to use broken crayons to do her schoolwork unless we start shopping. One good thing about shopping for school supplies, though, is you can bring your kids with you (or have them shop online with you) and use it as a reminder that school is approaching—and maybe even get them excited about it. Who doesn’t like bouquets of sharpened pencils? Even picking out a new backpack (if one is needed) can be exciting.

If you don’t have a homework area set up yet, or if it’s been overtaken with toys, now’s a good time to organize and personalize that area with your child. Hang a bulletin board up with the school calendar and room for other reminders, desk trays or folders for storing project work, and, of course, pencils and other writing tools.

Organizing expert Elizabeth Mayhew offers a few tips on for encouraging your kid to get organized:

First, establish your child’s organizational style. Like adults, most people fall into two categories: pilers (people who like to stack things) or filers (people who like to keep things out of sight). Allow your child to make some decisions about how he or she wants to organize their things and be sure to realize that your child might be wired differently from you; what works for him or her might not work for you.

Also, don’t be too rigid. You might find that once they start school, they need to change their systems. The goal is to empower them so they will be more likely to keep things in order.

Pilers might prefer document boxes or trays while kid-friendly file folders should appeal to filers. Mayhew also recommends helping your child come up with a list of the things they need to bring to school each day of the week (e.g., books or soccer equipment) to check off as they pack their backpacks in the morning. Keep these running lists in a prominent place in their work area.

Finally, let’s talk clothing. The average spending on clothes and shoes as part of the back-to-school budget is over $350. August is a great time for buying kids’ clothing, thanks to the sales, but besides picking out the first week’s outfits and making sure shoes fit, I prefer to spread out clothing buying throughout the year. If you and your kids enjoy clothing shopping, though, new school-appropriate clothes can also help set the tone. Whether you decide to shop for new school clothes or not, this is as good a time as any to clean out the closet.