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Go to the head of the class with these school-year organizing tips

by Elizabeth Mayhew / / Source: TODAY

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It’s a new school year! Before you establish patterns of behavior, think about what didn’t work and what already isn’t working this time around. Here are four strategies to get you started.

Has your child already been late to school, forgotten her homework and her soccer cleats? If so, then it’s time to work with your kids to create systems (and maybe establish rewards) for getting and staying organized. Point out the more time he wastes looking for his text book, the less time he will have with his friends, practicing his slam dunk or playing on the computer.

Realize that your child might be wired differently from you; what works for you might not work for her. Set out to solve organizing dilemmas early and allow your child to make some decisions about how she wants to organize. Also, be flexible. If you see a system isn’t working early in the school year, change it up. The goal is to empower your kids so that they will be more likely to keep everything organized and in order themselves.

1. Kids do better when they know what to expect.

Keep a large calendar in a convenient spot, like the kitchen, that everyone in the family can see. On it include all important school and family dates as well as day-to-day commitments for each day of the week, work assignments, and chores. Use the calendar to plan your weeks and stay organized. Be prepared the night before: lay out clothing, pack backpacks, and prepare lunches.

Office and school supplies arranged on wooden table - Knolling
Getty Images stock

For an easy, reusable calendar system try Wallies Chalkboard and Dry Erase Vinyl Decals. Their Family Command Center comes with six different sheets, each for a different purpose (notes, two shopping list sheets, a weekly schedule, a babysitter's note, and a birthday chart). The sheets are removable and repositionable on walls, wood, glass, metal or almost any flat surface. Just write on them with standard dry-erase pens or chalk and wipe them clean with a damp cloth.

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Family Command Center, $40, Wallies

Family Command Center
Wallies

Chalboard Monthly Calendar, $25, Wallies

Monthly chalkboard calendar
Wallies

Slate Gray Chalkboard, $17, Wallies

Chalkboard
Wallies

2. Kids won’t lose things (permanently, at least) if they are labeled.

Label everything from water bottles to textbooks. Use Brother’s new P-touch Cube Label Maker.

Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker, $45, Amazon

Label maker
Amazon

This label maker connects to your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to wirelessly print labels through a downloadable P-Touch Design & Print app. You can design your own labels using a vast array of fonts, symbols and layout and print them wirelessly.

Or use Chalk or Dry Erase Duck Tape to label assignments, school supplies, water bottles or lunch boxes.

Duck Brand Chalkboard Crafting Tape, $7, Amazon

Chalkboard tape
Amazon

Duck Brand Dry Erase Crafting Tape, $8, Amazon

Dry erase tape
Amazon

3. Send your kids off to school with some extra power and protection.

Make sure your kids’ phones stay charged and give then an alarm in case of an emergency. This portable charger and alarm has a built-in flashlight and 100-decibel siren that can be heard up to 200 yards away. It adds personal safety to an everyday portable power pack. It comes in a variety of colors, holds enough power to recharge your mobile device up to 75 percent, and it’s small enough to fit into a pocket or backpack.

Rayovac PS99CL Power Protect Safety Siren and Portable Charger, $20, Amazon

Portable charger
Amazon

Encourage your kids to frequently was their hands and if necessary use a hand sanitizer. The new Birdie hand sanitizer is made from seven naturally derived ingredients which include aloe and glycerine so your kids’ hands won’t dry out.

Olika Birdies 2-in-1 Hand Sanitizer 3-Pack, $27, QVC

Birdie hand sanitizer
QVC

4. Help your kids foster good study habits.

Your kids should get in the habit of doing their homework at the same time and place every night. If need be, this time should be scheduled the same way a piano lesson or soccer practice is.

Keep work areas clear of all unrelated school stuff; try to coordinate the space because if you look organized, you feel organized.

Encourage your kids to tackle the hardest subjects and assignments first — they’ll be relieved to have it over.

If your kid is stumped with a problem, let them take a break. Chances are when they come back to it they will have clarity; Research shows that the mind needs a break approximately every 25 minutes.

“Check” phones in a different room by plugging them into a central charging station.

Nexgadget USB Cable Set, $22, Amazon

USB Cable
Amazon

Nexgadget Detachable Universal Multi-Port USB Charging Station, $40, Amazon

Nextgadget charging station
Amazon

If need be, use Cold Turkey to block sites. Cold Turkey is an app that lets you temporarily block websites and apps so that you (and your kids) can be more productive.

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