How to organise your family for the new school term

The best wardrobe doors for your child’s bedroom

As the lazy hazy days of summer begin to draw to a close, families everywhere are getting ready for the big Back to School. And, no matter how much you wanted everything to be organised in advance this year, there are bound to be things you have left till the last minute. Sadly, good intentions are always much easier to make than to keep.

This also applies once the new term is well under way. On the one hand, you know that a bit of effort and organisation will help to keep everything running smoothly. But on the other hand, it can be hard to maintain that momentum, particularly once the dark nights start drawing in.

So to help you to get – and stay – organised this new school term, here are six ideas to try:

Have a family calendar that everyone has to use

Once the new term starts, life gets very busy. As well as the ongoing adult stuff – such as work, running the home, socialising etc – suddenly the kids have lots of activities too. There will be school-related commitments, such as after-school clubs, sporting fixtures and trips, and also activities outside school such as other clubs, parties, sleepovers and so on. 

So it is essential that everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and that you can all prepare accordingly. This should hopefully remove the all too common situation of a child needing something you knew nothing about, such as a lift somewhere, or a birthday present, or money for a trip.

You may want to have a traditional family calendar in the kitchen, or if your family prefers to use technology then set up an online calendar, for example in Google or Microsoft. But make it a household rule that everything that others need to know about must be on that calendar. This will be a valuable first step in getting everyone organised!

Empty the school bag(s) as soon as you get home

Ah, the school bag! It seems the older the child, the bigger the bag. And, after a few days back at school, goodness knows what is lurking at the bottom!

So the best thing to do is empty the bag(s) as soon as you all get home. Yes, they will object. But it will only take a few minutes and will really help with family organisation. Emptying the bag can unearth all kinds of items needing attention. For example:

  • School planners, perhaps with messages from a teacher;
  • Details of important homework or projects to be done;
  • Letters about school meetings or trips;
  • PE kit needing a wash;
  • Leftover lunch or snacks;
  • Loose change;
  • That pen or calculator they couldn’t find earlier on.

Once you have inspected the contents of the bag, you can make sure that anything needing attention is dealt with, any rubbish is thrown away, and anything else can go back in the bag again. 

Keep all school supplies together

When organising your child’s school bag, it will also make life easier if you can find a place to keep all their school supplies together. This could be a shelf in their room, a desk if they have one, or a shelf or box in their wardrobe. 

If you choose open storage, such as a shelf or surface, help them to keep this tidy so that it looks interesting and inviting, rather than a complete jumbled mess. In many ways it could be better to tuck everything away in a wardrobe, so that when you shut the wardrobe doors there is an instant calming effect on the room. 

Just one word of warning though, it can be all too easy for your child just to keep shoving things into their wardrobe without really caring about what they are doing. And you will soon be in the situation when you don’t really know what is in there and can’t find anything. So if you do store all the school supplies behind wardrobe doors, make time to go through it all regularly with your child so that you don’t end up in a mess.

Get everything ready the night before

We all know that this is really important. And perhaps at the start of term we manage to do it for a while then it just fizzles out. But make this the term that you keep it going!

If everything is ready the night before it makes things so much easier in the morning. There should be no frantic searching for things at the last minute. Your child should just be able to get up, washed, dressed, have a decent breakfast then head out of the door. Here’s hoping!

So how about this checklist for each night before school:

  • Lay out all items of school uniform;
  • Repack the school bag with anything used that night;
  • Pack clean PE kit as needed;
  • Put out anything else needed eg musical instrument;
  • Make sure any relevant forms or money are ready to take;
  • If your child has a packed lunch, make sure this is prepared and in the fridge.

If there is a spare bed or sofa in your child’s bedroom, this would be the ideal place to put all of the above stuff. Otherwise see if you can designate a “next day” shelf in their room where it can all go. 

Have a specific place for homework

As well as making sure all the school stuff is in the right place at the right time, it’s important to find a regular place for your child to do their homework, and to make it clear to them when this should be done. 

Some families prefer to get the homework out of the way as soon as you all get in from school; others prefer to take a break and tackle it later. There are no rights or wrongs here, and you may need to adopt different strategies for different days, depending on what else is happening. But make sure that it happens at the agreed time, and that your child has a regular place to work.

Our recent article How to create the best study space for your teenager has lots of information and ideas about helping your child to have a suitable place to study.

Use a reward system to motivate everyone

Last but definitely not least, is that it’s important to make family life fun. Even in the daily grind, such as organising your kids for school, it will all work much better if you can include some fun in the process too, rather than it being all about rules.

So why not come up with some kind of reward system to motivate everyone? This can vary depending on the age of your child(ren) but could be something along the lines of points or stars for each task successfully completed, with a reward chart for once they reach a certain number of points or stars.

It’s up to you what the rewards are, but make sure there are some that you would enjoy too! For example a cinema trip, pizza night, family BBQ or picnic, movie night, games night etc. Introducing a bit of motivation can help to sweeten the daily discipline of always being organised, and make it all seem worthwhile.

We hope that this article has given you some ideas about how to organise your family for the new school term. Good luck! And remember to check back here soon for more home and lifestyle tips from DIY Homefit.