Ever wonder how your child’s backpack goes from looking like it belongs in a museum exhibit on the first day of school, to looking like there was an explosion of school supplies, snacks and nick-knacks thrown together a few weeks later? Read on for 5 tips to help your child keep his backpack organized throughout the school year.
5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Backpack Organized:
- Have a designated place for everything. Work out a system with your child at the beginning of the year (or whenever you realize that the current system is not working), and designate a spot for all materials. This may mean putting all writing utensils in a plastic box or a carrying case, having different colored folders or using a binder system. Make sure you have a place for the odds and ends too, such as scissors, rulers, and informational papers to bring home to mom and dad.
- Label, label, label. It’s great to talk about where everything belongs, but what happens when your child doesn’t remember what you talked about? Use a label (either a printed label or hand-written) on the different items that you want used for organization. This doesn’t just mean folders, but also pencil cases, marker boxes, change purses and inner pockets in the backpack. For younger kids who may not be able to read yet, put a picture of the item that belongs in that spot. This helps teach great organizational habits at an early age and fosters independence.
- Find a system that works for your child. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find a system that works and makes sense to you and your child. Just because the school suggests using a binder or trapper-keeper, doesn’t mean that you are stuck with that system all year. If you find out that using a binder just is not working for you and your child, try using individual folders or notebooks that have the folder inserts.
- Go through the entire backpack together at the end of each week. Have your child empty his backpack at the end of the week and make sure everything is where it needs to be. For most kids, having a parent in the room while they do this is great for a few reasons: it holds them accountable, it gives you an opportunity to see how they are doing at maintaining the system you have setup and if there are any papers that were meant to get to you as the parents, this may be the time you find out about them. The end of the week is usually the best time to do this, because your child has had 5 days of school work, papers and random odds and ends to deal with. But if Fridays or Saturdays just aren’t working for your family, pick another day.
- Make sure your child feels motivated to maintain what you’ve started! One of the top reasons why organizational systems fail is due to lack of motivation. Some kids are motivated simply by the thought of keeping their work space and materials organized, but for a majority of kids, especially as they get older, a little incentive seems to go a long way. If organization is an issue, set a realistic goal with a motivating reward after one week. If your child meets the goal and was able to maintain the organizational system for an entire week, set the next goal for two weeks. After a short while, the routine of maintaining an organized backpack will become a habit, and the reward system can be faded.
These are just a few tips to helping your child start the school year off the right way and maintain an organized backpack for the entire year! Don’t worry about sticking to anyone’s plan specifically; find something that works for your child and your family and roll with it! Does disorganization continue to be a problem for your child? Click here to see if it’s simply disorganization or if it could be a bigger problem.
*Co-written by Abby Rohlfing