Tag Archive: school



Every year, inevitably, both parent and child arrive at a place where paper becomes their arch nemesis. That is, if they do not have a good system in place.

Sometimes, people think because I am a home educator and an organizer that things ALWAYS go off smoothly and I NEVER have to make adjustments, maintain or catch up. None of these can be the farthest from the truth. Organization is work, it is work to maintain it and life does not always ‘play nicely’.

And, being an organizer does not make me immune! But I am armed with a tenacity to find a solution, so I tend to tackle problems with an attitude that a solution will, indeed, be found.

To this end, I have a younger son, who, a few years ago, we found was fighting an epic battle with school related paperwork. Prior to the new school year beginning, we had set up a binder system  where he could place his assignment planner, his work in progress and notes, etc.

He had all the tools that he would need to complete his assignments…So, we thought.

As I am his instructor, I began to notice that on a frequent basis, his assignments were not all being completed.

Almost simultaneously, it occurred to me that each time he came to our schoolroom to attend class, his binder was almost empty, while his pile of paperwork was toted down the stairs poking out of books, stacked precariously atop of his pile of books or simply MIA.

I decided to take a few days to observe. Day after day, the same scenario occurred. Finally, on the third day, I asked him a question that changed his educational career and saved my sanity!!

Now brace yourselves, this question is momentous!!!! Are you ready for it?

I asked, “Son, why do you not use the binder system we put into place?”

With a frustrated sigh, he replied “Because it makes me really, really mad!”

I was shocked. How could a binder system make anyone ‘really, really mad’?

I asked him to tell me why this particular system provoked him to such disgust.

He began to tell me how much it frustrated him to have the paper holes tear and for the pages to be hanging askew, lacking tidiness. Now, folks, I’ll admit this astounded me, because he toted this papers down in ways that would make me crazy. Nonetheless, he had shared what he thought about it and I took it to heart and began to think about solutions.

So, I asked him about using the ring reinforcers. He did not like that idea either, because it “made everything look, I don’t know, off…”

Ahhhhhh. I got it. I really did.

Because the system produced less than stellar aesthetics and functionality, in his mind, it provoked him to anger, which made him not want to use it. He didn’t want to turn in torn work or work that looked less than what he thought it should look like.

I can TOTALLY relate to this. When I use something, I want it

1) to work and 2) I want it to be as aesthetically pleasing as is possible. If it isn’t, I don’t want to use it and, apparently, neither did he!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. This child is a BOYYYYYY. He doesn’t do frills. He is interested in things that are functional and do not create a disaster. Something that works. For him, the binder system just did not work.

So, what were we to do? Well, I decided to go try an accordion file.

I zipped down to Target and purchased an eight pocket file, zipped back home and he began to label the tabs with the names of his courses. Place a legal pad in one file, along with his zipper pen holder, and then, place his planner which he uses to keep track of assignments and events in the front.

I cannot tell you what this small change made in our lives. He began to not only be able to track his homework assignments, he came to class prepared, less stressed, turning assignments in on time and receiving good grades. It was amazing. Now, the young man will not be found without it, when he is pursuing something academically!

This just reiterated to me how much having a tool that does not work affects us. And this is true in any organizational feat. The tool may work fine for others, but it may not be a good fit for us.

My daughters, for example, work just fine with a binder system. In fact, they prefer it. He simply cannot abide it, so it does not work. And it showed in everything  he was trying to do. It kept him from being successful.

Now, my younger two children are teens and my older two are adults, so I have been writing more about teens. But you may be a younger mother, or, at least, a mother with younger children and you may begin to ask, what about filing for the little ones in our lives?

The lil’ people are so fun to find storage solutions for, because there is so much more color and texture (Generally, speaking…) than for the teens. Or maybe, I just feel that way, because pretty paper, glue, markers, etc. get to be pulled out and I get to have more FUN!

At any rate, stay tuned and we will look at storage for the needs of our little ones tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, if you have a ‘frilly, creative’ girl, whose desire is to use an accordion system, as well and wants to add some sass, you can follow the idea from this Pinterest page, using whatever material she would like to. Make it modern, antiqued or whatever your style is…the point is to make something functional beautiful or cool. Just have fun with it!

This idea could also be used for Mom’s organization of paperwork that has to be kept, but available on the go! So, don’t forget the possibilities for yourselves ladies! After all, we are the managers of our home!!

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I was speaking with a woman recently about the relationship she and her child have in regards to education. It occurred to me that this mother was trying to achieve meeting her own needs through her child. When they were not met the way she desired, she became angry; her daughter is struggling with being respectful, there is something that she is wanting, too. The breakdown in their communication has caused problems, because each can only see what they, personally, want and are not receiving.

The book of James says that the things that cause fights and wars among us is the fact that we desire something that we are not getting; that we covet and kill but do not get what we want because we will not ask of the Father and when we do we ask, often we ask amiss to use it on our own pleasure rather for the glory of the Father.

So, how does this apply to communication in the new school year? Throughout the next months that make up our school year, there will be things that we and our children will want from one another. And, there are specific ways in which we have learned to communicate; ways that are both good and bad. This is important to accept and understand, because communication is a tool. It can be used as an implement to build and restore or it can be wielded as a weapon to tear down and destroy.

We, as parents, can set the example of loving communication that deals with problems as they arise in gentle truth, allowing our children to flourish and grow as they begin to see that we are committed to loving them the way Christ loves us.

We can teach the way He did…consistently, lovingly and truthfully, with God’s glory in mind…not our own.

When we communicate to our children that we are “here” and willing to commit to responding to them in the love of Christ, we build trust.

As I mentioned before, however, communication can also be a tool of destruction…it can be detrimental to the lives of our children.

When our children’s mistakes arise ( and they will, just as our own do) it is imperative to remember, that like ourselves, they need to be corrected, but gently, kindly and with loving patience. Is that not what the Father does for us?

He does not scream, throw things, give us labels such as “stupid”, “dumb”, or “incompetent”, storm off or ignore us. Rather, He tells us the truth in love. He calmly addresses the heart, and then the actions that came out of the position of the heart. Then, guess what? He gives us room to grow…to practice! He is not intimidated by not getting exactly what He wants from us as His children. After all, if He waited to meet us and help us until we responded perfectly to Him each time, He would be waiting an awful long time, even among those of us who call upon Him as Savior! We do not respond to Him perfectly and yet, He is always faithful in every way. Our children will not do things perfectly, but that should not keep us from committing to loving them, teaching them, being faithful parents and setting an example that they can follow and respect, as we ourselves, submit our desires to the Lord.

As we look to begin a new year in school, what would you like to see as growth in yourself and your child by the end of the school year? Lay these before Him and let Him equip you to equip your child.

Set the example of praying for both your needs. You will not be sorry.

When looking at your goals for the year, begin to also examine what is working in your relationship with your child in regards to communication.

If it working, praise the Lord for it!!! We are so good at looking at the bad in a relationship and completely missing all that is good about it!

Let’s start off the year right…Looking to the Lord, looking at the good, noble things about our relationship, give thanks and rejoice over those things and then, set off to do what the Lord shows us. Communicating with one another in love, so that our parent/child relationship will show to the world that there is a God who cares that we stay together and that we stay together because of love, not just because we are a parent and child.


English: Fiddlehead ferns

When I was a kid, I was absolutely fascinated with plant life. So much so, I remember receiving a small terrarium as a gift from my Mother.

To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement! For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a terrarium is a small enclosed container in which plant life and even small animals can be kept for growth and observation.

[I think I just officially revealed just how nerdy I really am! 😛 ]

At any rate, I loved that thing. I got started by planting the tiny seeds in the soil provided. I added the recommended amount of water, put it in a window with partial sunlight and waited.

And waited…

and waited.

It seemed like an eternity before my tiny little plants began to unfurl from within their humid enclosure, but there they were… growing! I was so excited! From here, I set out to help them grow. “The trick?”, you might ask…

Consistent watering. That’s it. They didn’t need anything more than I had given them in the beginning. Good soil, water and sun. The Lord did the rest.

The funny thing about looking back upon these little plants is they were not stressed out, running all about trying to make themselves bigger, prettier, more fruitful. I WAS waiting after all!

No, they did want they were supposed to do. They grew at a steady rate…much slower, I might add than my little impatient nerdy self would have liked, but they made it! They became a beautiful, self-contained miniature garden. They did what they were created to do, even in the midst of being impatiently observed.

My point? REST. Yep, you heard me. REST.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 30, God told the people of Israel that “in returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength, but you would have none of it.” So, off to captivity they went to learn what it meant to rely on the Lord and rest in Him and His work in them.

For all you students running around trying with allllll your youthful might to make yourself the best you, you can be. Trying to bring in the grades. Trying to have the ‘right’ social life. Get into the ‘right’ college or grad. school.  Rest. The Lord knows who the ‘best’ you is and exactly how to accomplish it. Trust Him.

For all you parents running around not only trying with all your older might not only to be the best you, you can be, but you are trying to force your children to be the best of your ideal version of them. Rest. God declared that He had a good plan for both of you before either of you were even conceived! Rest.

Besides, for all of our rushing, fussing and stress, we cannot change one hair on our young, or more mature (for us older folks) heads.

The Lord knows what we need. He understands all too well that our lives, much like those of my precious little garden plants of childhood, are lived in a proverbially terrarium. People are watching…and people have opinions…and they talk!

Just like I was of the opinion that my plants were not growing fast enough, there will be those who just don’t think we are getting the job done. But the thing is, if we are waiting upon the Lord, we are trusting Him and we are allowing Him to transform us into His image, it will happen. Just not in their time. But it will happen. Rest.

Sometimes, we are the ones who analyze ourselves to death. I am a professional over-analyzer, when it comes to my life. You know what the message to me is? Rest. Let the Lord direct and grow me. He has planted me in the fertile soil of Himself, He waters me with His Word and He provides the warmth of trials to grow me. He knows what He is doing. Rest. In trusting Him, I have my confidence and my strength. It is when I am running around trying to make it happen that all of that goes away. I crumble. My relationships crumble. I need to learn to rest, too.

I know, I know…”But, But, But…”

Just rest. Ask Him what He wants you to shoot for today. Do it, relying on His strength and His provision. He will see what He began in us to completion. He promised.

Just rest…



This was ‘liked’ by a young man who is a friend of our younger son on Facebook this morning. It cracked me up, because from a teen’s perspective, it encapsulates exactly what they feel.

I also got a good laugh, because as a home educating  mother, who LOVES spending time with her children, school is not necessarily the easiest way to do that, enjoy my children, that is. We, too, face the daunting reality of “Okay…the start date is upon us.” SIGHHHH…Take a deep breath…breathe out, slloowwwllly now…”Here we go…”

For many parents, particularly mothers (it’s seems that there are more homeschooling Moms, than Dads…sorry guys, not disqualifying you!), this time of year not only brings on a busyness we were able to lay aside for the summer, but also some common ‘nags’ that tend to rear their ugly heads in regards to educating our children.

“Are they really getting what they need as a group?”

“Is each child receiving what they need individually?”

“Am I challenging them enough?”

“Am I pushing too hard?”

These are typically the questions that scream at me throughout the year, from the first day til the last.

So, what do I do?

First, make sure that you are sure of your calling. Then, rest in that truth. If you are called, God WILL equip!

Both my husband and I feel very strongly that this is the direction the Lord has given us for our children’s education. It is what I am called to do for this season of my life. I can rest.

Secondly choose  what I am going to believe. I can walk in fear and be completely paralyzed, or I can choose to focus on the truth. The truth is, I am not going to provide every little detail needed educationally with perfection. But neither will a private or public school. And there is still the fact that a God who loves each of my children, wants to ensure they have all they need, will see to it that they are equipped to fulfill the ministry that He will call them to.

I can allow my fear to convince me to become indifferent or lazy. But that is not the calling the Lord has given. I am to prayerfully be diligent to walk out what He directs of me each year, as well as day by day, for the good of my children. He knows how He created them, and He knows perfectly how to meet those needs as we look to Him for the answers.

Finally, I must learn to rest in God’s peace, joy and love.  Or, I can continue in fear and lose the joy that He intended me to experience through this season of life. My children are gifts, treasures from my Father. He will give us wisdom and we can rest. Enjoying each and every moment of the journey. It is the bumps in the road which will strengthen us as parent and child(ren), not the easy sailing. When the breezes are great and the sailing is good, I find that I do not dependent nearly enough of the goodness of God. Rather, when the storms arise, I realize all too quickly my insufficiency, cry out to Him and He calms me, even if the storm continues to rage awhile.

So, while resisting the beginning of school is, indeed, “futile”, as my young brother in Christ has observed this morning, we can choose how we will embark upon it. We can choose how we will live each day of the year. Full of joy or full of hopelessness and misery?

I choose hope, joy and peace and these all come down from the Father above.

Execute!


EXECUTE

This is just what it looks like! It means it is time to get to it!

Should you be tempted to turn back before you start, remember that only those that work the vineyard partake in the harvest! If they choose to quit before they begin not only will they have no grapes, but the ground around them will be taken over by everything EXCEPT that which is productive and profitable to them!

Maintenance—

This is a MUST! Nothing stays organized if it is not maintained. It is easier to maintain organization than it is to begin again.

A word to the wise…after you have completed your project, OR if you are in the middle of it, do not lose ground by allowing things to be put back in the wrong place or just added to the piles. Enforce the policy that says, “we will be responsible and good stewards of our time, we will not allow the temptation to be lax to steal from us.” Put it back right away; it really does pay off.

A word of encouragement…freedom costs. It is that simple. Nothing was ever freed without a price being paid first. It may seem to you that the cost in this situation is higher than you are willing to pay, but isn’t peace worth it? The cost may be high up front, but the benefits far outweigh the work put into it. From one Mom to another, I have seen my children walk in peace through their school days, my husband sighs a breath of relief to be home, because it is peaceful and I am able to enjoy watching it all. Freedom from having to chase after those things that we know we should take care of and haven’t is worth the cost paid by just tackling with the strength of Christ. This gives us a chance to breath when the job is done and learn to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Proverbs 31:31 says, “Give her (a virtuous wife) of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”


Now we come to the (R)estore segment, where we begin to restore order to a chaotic environment. I guess I should include a spoiler warning of sorts here, YOU WILL PROBABLY FACE WHAT LOOKS LIKE A HURRICANE DAMAGE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. That is part of the process. It takes patience and time to get through any organizational project. We must disassemble, in many cases, what is contributing to the disorganized environment in order to rebuild and restore. DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep at it and  you WILL conquer  it!

The first step to restoration is to come equipped to your space or backpack with the following items: a permanent marker, three white garbage bags, bank boxes OR apple boxes (the latter you can grab from the local grocer, in most cases, for free), post-it notes, a bottle of multi-purpose Pledge, and a lint-free cleaning cloth. **Obviously, if you are dealing with cleaning out a backpack from last year, you won’t need three boxes or bags, but you will need one of them to empty the items into while you toss the pack into the wash.

The second step is to remove and sort ALL items that are in the area you want to organize. Place like items together and when you are finished sorting in this manner you will be able to see what type of containers you will need and will be able to measure the containers properly for the spaces they will be used in.

One thing that I really like to do while I am sorting is to use my apple or bank boxes (I prefer these over bags for the reason of sturdiness and also because if I have to leave the project overnight, I am able to cover the box and it appears neater…rather than appearing unkept) to sort according to rooms. If there are items that do not belong I will start a box for the living room, for example. In this way, when I am finished sorting, I can simply remove the appropriate boxes to the appropriate rooms and store the items contained in the boxes where they go. This is the primary reason I use sticky notes, by the way. I can label the box multiple times without having to scratch out what I wrote before, which I like because it doesn’t mar my boxes. Crazy, I know…but that’s me!

At any rate, I find that sorting in this way helps me to maintain control over the space in which I am working and it allows me more peace of mind because it is more tidy, and the hurricane effect can be kept at a minimum.

At this point, we have sorted the items in like bags, boxes or piles. The next step is to decide which containers you will need in order to organize the area you are working in the best way possible. This is one of the more fun parts of organizing because you get to choose containers that can really reflect who you are as an individual. You will also have more room in regards to creativity.

Many people, particularly in our American culture, believe that you have to rush out and purchase everything tiny thing and that it must match, etc. This could not be furthest from the truth. In fact, it can be downright counterproductive. That isn’t to say that we will not need to purchase anything; rather, we need to make sure that what we purchase is actually needed and that it will be used. We also, as a culture, seem to overlook items which can be recycled and repurposed. Look around your home, are there shallow boxes that could actually be used as dividers inside drawers? Are there other containers which can be repurposed for something other than what they were originally intended? An example of this is the container which is holding the pencils in the first part of this organizing series. You know, the little grey one which has the floral flourish on the exterior. It originally housed a soy based candle. I loved it so much that I repurposed it as my pen well! Be creative and use what you are able and don’t be afraid to creative a container that reflects you. I have had students who have gifted wrapped shoe boxes with drawings they created or gift wrap they liked. They then covered the paper with Modge Podge or clear shipping tape. It was a store-bought container from “Containers and Such”, but it was a container which worked for the purpose they needed and it reflected them as individuals.  I applaud that kind of ingenuity, creativity and craftsmanship.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE container stores, I just don’t think we need to be wasteful with our resources, if we already have usable items available. Plus,in my way of thinking, it gives us an opportunity to be young and creative again (if we are not still! :P) instead of being all stuffy. Okay, so in terms of organizational stores out there, if you do need to buy something… there is “The Container Store”, “Bed, Bath and Beyond”, and believe it or not, Wal-mart, Target and your local Lowe’s. They have great items available without having to order online, if you can avoid it. I have found in recent years that my local Target has some great items available in their ‘dollar section’. I just purchased some file folders for my girls yesterday for two dollars and the girls thought they were cute!  IKEA is another store I recently discovered to have a vast amount of organizational items. The excitement I felt over this little discovery was great, I can assure you! I can’t wait to plan a field trip. (And, yes, I do have field trips for myself…we have to stay young some how, right?!) The items that IKEA offers are inexpensive and yet, get the job done. SO excited!

Okay, I digress.

Once you have measured for and obtained your containers, it is time to finish up the (R)estore segment.  You will now begin to place like items in containers. We want to place things together where they make sense, according to where they are going to be used. So, if you are working in your child’s bedroom and you are creating a study station, you will want to keep all things which pertain to studying there at or nearby that station. The same idea applies no matter where you are working.

Commit to assigning items to specific “homes”. This is uber-handy when trying to establish the habit of putting things away. You won’t have to look or search for things, they already have an assigned home and maintenance will be so much easier. In other words, you won’t have to start the whole D.A.R.E. process from the beginning, you will simply have to (R)estore and (E)valuate on a much smaller scale.

A note on stations…stations are fantastic ways of creating small geo-centers within a given room. When it has come to my own children (all four of them) and to the students I teach, they all seem to respond really well to structure. So, having these smaller stations that break up their rooms into task specific areas, really helps them identify where individual items go. And clean up and maintenance is so much easier. It also helps in reducing excuse making as to why things cannot be carried. “I didn’t know where it went”, flies right out the window when an organized station is created and, often, peace is restored, because they are confidently able to carry the task of putting things away through to completion. They receive the opportunity to grow into a person who is confident about how to handle things and we, parents, are able to have a few more moments free from “Hey,  MOMMMM (or DADDD)! Where does this go?” And how sweet is it to see them walk something out confidently, knowing that they can, indeed, complete it and complete it well?

Well, I have prattled on today…(R)estoring life to an organized state takes time and patience, but you if you are willing to put in the effort and time, you will seem reformation very quickly. Just remember to be methodic about it and follow the simple instructions here.

Tomorrow, we will cover the last part of D.A.R.E. and from there we will look at a  whole slew of other organizing tasks.

Until then…scale your Everests and enjoy the fresh air of freedom from disorder!


Well, I had hoped to get this new post up before now, so sorry for the delay, but I have stumbled onto a new resource for organizing tools that I was unaware of before now. I will share that tomorrow in the (R)estore section of the post.

For now, let’s look at organizing the spaces that your family uses which affect their (and if you are like me, possibly your own) education. The spaces that come to the forefront of my mind are backpacks, bedrooms and supply storage.

It is a given that these spaces are different, but the organization of such areas requires the same tasks! Let’s look at the acronym D.A.R.E. to find out how to tackle these areas. Today, we are looking as the first two parts of this acronym, Define and Analyze. So, let’s get started…

First, we are going to DEFINE our goals for our spaces, hence the “D”. What would you really, really like to achieve with this space? By defining what you want the end result to be, you are able to work backward to better formulate a plan of action for reaching the end goal. A goal for a space might look something like this, “I want my child’s spaces to be organized in such a way that will allow him or her to find whatever they need at any given time. I also want them to be able to easily maintain it throughout the year, so there is less stress on our relationship.”

This is a great example of a goal because it not only defines what you hope to gain physically from an organized space, but you are also identifying what is happening in your relationships when organization is not maintained. It may sound a bit odd, but this latter part is significant and incredibly important to organization. It gives flesh to the issue and helps you address the “whys” of organization with your child, so hopefully they understand better that you are not just wanting this because you are being persnickety!

Defining also helps in the sense that it aids in identifying what is not currently working and how being disorderly is affecting your life as an individual and as a family.

Another aspect of the defining process is to specifically define exactly how you want to use the space but specifically what you would like the space to contain. This becomes important when we reach the (R)estore segment because this is when we will begin to removed items that do not belong to a given space and add those items that need to be added to make the space the space that we intend it to be.

After we have set about defining our goals and the desired use of our space, we can then move on to the (A)nalyze stage of the process. It is at this stage of the process that we begin to analyze what is working and what is not in our spaces. Make very sure that you identify what is working, as this will help to spur you on when the going gets tough in the (R)estore segment.

A few examples of what is working are 1) the closet is large enough and I always keep my clothes there rather than strewn throughout the room. 2) my backpack has sufficient space and I never leave home or school without it, if you are a student or your child exhibits this valuable habit. Or, 3) you love to fold and store your clothing neatly, but you simply don’t have enough drawer space to do so. Take heart if you have examples such as these, it is a good starting point. You can use these good habits to help you defeat the bad habits.

Don’t cop out on this segment and refuse to see the good for the bad. There are ALWAYS things that are working well, even if they are seem to be few compared to what is not working. As a good friend of my family says, “Don’t through the baby out with the bath water”. Meaning, don’t toss what is good in an effort to discard what is bad. Hold onto those habits or tools available that are good and will help you get the job done.

That being said, it is incredibly important that brutal honesty is employed in both the identifying of the good and the bad. So, when dealing with the bad, resist the urge to become overwhelmed. We are simply looking at what is not working and we are going to find solutions that do! This may take some time and some trial and error, but if you keep at it, you WILL find what is very effective for you and your family.

Examples of what is not working might look something like this…1) your closet is large enough, but you do not ever return items that belong in the closet back to the closet. 2) Your closet is too small or there is not enough rod or shelf space. Or, 3) you want to be prepared so you try to pack everything and the kitchen sink in your backpack and then, can never find what you really need, so you quit using the backpack.

**Just a note on the habit of not putting things back where they belong. Many who have formed this habit  find that it creates much chaos not only in the closet but, generally speaking, all over the house! And, then, they are completely confounded and overwhelmed because they are not able to find what they need when they need it. We will deal more with creating a home for an item tomorrow in the (R)estore segment, but for now, resolve yourself to creating a home for an item and consistently putting it back when you are finished using it. You will save yourself a lot of time and potentially a lot of money and frustration in the long run.

Okay, so there you are. I hope this has encouraged you to get started, even if school has already started for your children. An organized home is a more efficient home and the people who live within its walls are more content and joyful, less frustrated. That is our ultimate goal… Happier families and better relationships.

Happy Organizing!

 


“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. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.” (Joe to Kathleen Kelly in “You’ve Got Mail”) Folks, if I knew you, I would be tempted to do the same…that is how much I LOVE school and the year it encompasses!

Before we get started, let’s do a  little exercise. Let’s relax and take a deep breath.Yup, that’s it…inhale deeply…can’t you almost smell the crayons, construction paper, and glue? As a mother who home schools her children, Fall has always represented a time of fun, but always there are  a lot of ‘to-do’s” that make it onto my list and into my life. The list, for some, can be viewed as daunting, overwhelming. It looks something like this… Rush to Target, “shoot, what did we need?”…Rush to the grocery with not an inkling of what would be best to add to the lunch box, and let’s not even get started with the backpacks, bedrooms and clothing needs! The intentions of an organized approach were there, but not quite planned out and executed well.

I have known many a mother (and, sometimes, father) who have great intentions for overcoming the difficulties faced last year by beginning the new school year out on better footing. And, yet, Fall sneaks up like an unseen assailant and before you know it, “BAM!” the first day of school is Monday and you are scurrying the night before to get it all done. So, the school year begins as it had ended, with frazzled and tired parents and students.

But it doesn’t HAVE to be this way!

For me and my younger two children, school began last Monday. For the high school students I teach, it begins August 15th, and for my older children, their college start date is August 29th, whereas our local school district schools begin the 10th. No matter whether your start date is a few days away or a couple of weeks away, there are some things that we  can accomplish CALMLY and in an orderly fashion over the next few days or weeks.

There are a few areas which most every parent has to review before their children return to school. They are as follows: Supplies, schedules (both family and personal), clothing needs, bedrooms and study spaces.

First, let’s take inventory of what we have on hand for supplies. Very frequently, I will keep my eyes open for supplies as they go on sale or clearance throughout the year, but, of course, I have found the most cost efficient time to purchase school supplies is at the “Back to School” sales. I typically take advantage of the great prices, particularly with notebooks, ruled paper, pencils and pens at the beginning of the school year and stock up, but only if I foresee a need for them. To that end, the first place to begin is taking inventory. I have a supply closet that I have set up to keep all these items in and more. If you have a closet, shelf or other system available, begin to weed out those items that cannot be used any longer. Then, begin to assess the need items which are on the list provided by the school. Now, at this point, some of you will not have a list and that is okay. You will have enough of a list from experience to know the basics of what they will need. Begin with the basics: Paper, pencils, pens, notebooks, binders and loose leaf paper.

I have a note to share with you on the whole binder issue. A couple of years ago, I was about at my whits end with one of my children’s habits of NEVER using their binders to store their homework, assignment pages, etc. As a result, he would lose assignments, lose work he had completed or come to class without the proper necessities. I home educate, but I am not lax in these matters, nor am I a drill sergeant, but I do expect age appropriate responsibility. To this end, I HAD to get down to the underlying problem here. We would have what would seem to me like endless discussions as to his use of his binder and how important it was to utilize it as a tool and still, at the end of the day, we both would be very frustrated at his faithful insistence in not using it. Then, one day, as I was pondering the whole situation, I realized that it wasn’t that he necessarily did not want to be responsible or respectful of my wishes, but he was enough like me that when he greatly disliked something, there was a lot of resistance that came along with it. So, I asked him a simple question. “what is it about your binder that you cannot stand?” His eyes lit up as if to say, “EUREKA! She FINALLY sees!” and he told me that he cannot stand two things, one, the binders were cumbersome and two, his papers were often ripped when he was leafing through those few pages he did put in them. His solution…just don’t use it. It wasn’t effective in his life. The problem was, he needed at tool that was. Now equipped with understanding him better, I purchased an accordian file with twelve sections. He was able to use notebooks or loose leaf, assign a course name to the appropriate section, carry with him a planner where he recorded his assignments, as well, a supply pouch that housed his calculator, pencils and pens. Problem solved. It has been two years since we made the change and to date we have had very, very few hiccups to the system. He has a tool that doesn’t make him crazy and provides a solution to both of our needs…he turns his homework in on time.

Once you have the appropriate supplies, they can set up their backpacks (with assistance if the children are younger). If you have more than they need at the time, you can begin to set up your storage solution for the extra supplies.

Tomorrow, we will deal with how to tackle backpacks, storage areas and bedrooms in preparation for the school year.