Get in the back-to-school groove by stocking these three areas of your home.
Back to school season is once again upon us. Whether you are a parent to kids returning to the classroom, or an adult who is going back to school for yourself, it’s important to get into a routine to keep the school year running smoothly. One way to do that is to stock your home with the essentials that everyone will need before things get busy.
I'm going to cover the three most important areas of your home to keep stocked during the school year, and give you some quick and easy tips to help you and your family get into the back to school routine.
Because a lot of these suggestions are visual, I’ve created a Pinterest board called Back to School Ideas. Hop over there to see some more great examples of these ideas.
The School Day Drop Zone
The Drop Zone is the area right inside your door where everything gets dropped. It might be a mud room, a hallway, or in the living room. Chances are, even if you haven’t formally created a Drop Zone, there is a spot that has been informally transformed into one because it’s where everyone drops their stuff. While it may look cluttered now, there are a few things you can use to stock a drop zone, so it becomes one of the most functional areas of your home.
My friends with kids complain to me that they're always bringing home papers. There are papers that parents need to read, papers that parents need to sign and return, and papers that kids just want their parents to see. To make sure those papers get the attention they require, stock your drop zone with “mail boxes.” I recommend hanging magazine files that can be mounted to the wall. One file can be named “Mom’s Mailbox” or “Dad’s Dropbox,” meant for each child to put all the relevant papers when they first walk in the door. Then, additional magazine files for each child can be hung at their level where mom or dad can put the paperwork that needs to go back to school. In the morning, each child is responsible for getting the papers into their own bags, with the parents (or older children) double checking that the files are empty.
To help keep the Drop Zone clear of big clutter, install designated hooks for each child. Put each child’s name on a little plaque above the appropriate hook, and then teach them to get into the habit of hanging their backpack and jacket on the hook when they enter the house. Also, keep a low basket for each child to drop their shoes into when they enter the door. This will keep them easily contained, and hopefully prevent any last minute scrambles to find the missing shoes in the morning.
The Homework Zone
The Homework Zone is a very important part of the school day experience. Even children in Kindergarten and 1st grade seem to have homework these days. To help create good homework habits, having a designated spot for homework to be completed is essential. A Homework Zone can be set up anywhere a flat surface is available in a home, but it’s ideally set away from play areas and can be consistently used every day. By giving your kids the ability to gather their supplies and go to the same spot each and every day, you are going to help them develop good habits that they will be able to use all through their lives.
To stock a homework zone, it’s important to think about how the space will need to be used. Most days, homework is done with a few simple supplies like paper, pencils, crayons or markers, a calculator, and a laptop. Other times, projects may require a more elaborate stash of school supplies. Keeping everyday supplies easily accessible, and the more specialized supplies put away, will help your kids focus on the task at hand. A small plastic shoe box is often large enough to contain the daily supplies and is easily pulled to the table or desk when needed. Plastic three-drawer storage containers are ideal for specialized items, like different types of paper, glues, markers, and all those other items that only get used a few times throughout the year.
The key to this habit is having everything stored together, within reach for when it’s needed. If your kids do their homework at the kitchen table, dedicate one kitchen cabinet to the school supplies. If they have desks in their rooms, I’d recommend only stocking them with the essential daily supplies and then keeping the project supplies in a centralized area. It will prevent their rooms from becoming littered with art supplies and will allow multiple children to share the same supplies.