Easy Organized, Productive Back to School

easy organized productive back to school

 

Back to school means school starts, activities gear up and nightly routines begin again.  While it is sad to see Summer end, we welcome getting back to school as a fresh start for our kids and ourselves. Let’s make it an easy, organized, productive year for our families at back to school time.

Easy, organized, productive routines

By far families feel the crunch most in the morning and evening. Mornings feel rushed with getting out the door. Evenings fly by with activities and dinner.

  • Create and keep a personal checklist for everyone to follow for morning and evening. Post it where your family each can see it. Parent nagging does not promote getting things done, while a checklist can.  The list includes the most basic and most important things to check off.  Keep it short and simple. However, it can include things can are easily forgotten like brushhing teeth and combing hair.
  • Pattern your day.  That is create a pattern, routine or time assigned for important tasks. Homework should have a set start and finish time.
  • Make meals easy.  Many families have opted for Sunday prep day, a dinner box, or dinner prep (and easy decisions) that arrives like Hello Fresh.
  • Make time for gratitude. During dinner or at bedtime are great times to share what we are grateful for, high and low points of the day, and a special acknowledgement for your kids’ and your successes each day.  There’s power in ending the day positively.

 

Easy, organized clothes and school supplies

There’s clothes, school supplies and other supplies required to start the school year.  Take stock and assess what you have already. This may require making a huge mess when gathering it all together. It’s worth it since you know what you have and purchase only what you need.

  • Think of creating a “uniform” for your kids to wear to school. Like the concept of the capsule wardrobe, use color and your child’s style to pull together a minimum number of outfits.  It will clear the closet clutter this way too!
  • Purchase your school supplies and 2 back ups for future use. Help your child set up their supplies for homework and for school.
  • Keep one bag for each child for each activity. Prep your landing strip by having enough sturdy hooks for each.
  • A productive day starts the night before.  Set your and your kids’ clothes out the night before.  Do as much as you can.  Se bags and backpacks in the landing strip and technology charging in a common space.  Make these steps part of your evening checklist.

 

Easy, organize, productive paper routines

On the first day of school, a tidal wave of paper comes in. Be prepared this year to be organize and productive with a command center for your papers.  The command center is where action papers are located.  The command center can be as simple as a single drawer or inbox or a series of categories customized for your family.

  • Your kids and you drop paper here daily.  You triage it and then add tasks to your list.
  • Once a week, or daily if you need to, spend one hour to get the paper work done. That means pay bills, fill in information, add dates to your calendar and all other administrative tasks.
  • When your “to file” is big enough, you can file it easily.
  • Your list can grow and grown, however choose 3 Most Important Tasks to complete that day or that week.

The key element to remember is keep it simple sweetie!  The easiest, simplest way to get organized is the way to go!  Wishing you the best back to school ever!

 

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Back to School Rules for your ADHD Family

 

back to school rules

 

The nightly homework battle starts as soon as school opens.  It’s a daily chore to keep up with papers for both parents and kids. There’s too much to do, not enough time, and not enough rest.  The unending cycle of tension and anxiety takes  a toll quickly for families.  Here’s back to school rules for your ADHD family that can help your school year run smoother.

 

Back to school successful systems

Set up stations in your home which as dedicated to what’s important.  A specific “home” for items keeps them easy to access and keeps your home uncluttered.

  • Have a landing spot near the door for charging devices, hanging keys, and hosting backpacks.  This is where all these items go at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Create a command center, which is an action spot for papers.  A simple command center includes either wall pockets, a desk top sorter or baskets for papers. Kids drop papers here and it’s where the mail goes.
  • Centralize school and office supplies.  Pull all the supplies together and see what you have.  Now it’s time to go shopping!  Contain and label the supplies so everyone can use these.
  • Decide on a homework station or stations.  Research shows that kids can benefit from more than one location for homework.  Be sure these stations are as distraction free as possible.  Set up supplies to travel to each station. The dining room is an excellent spot for a homework station since it’s just a few steps away from the action in your home and there’s few visual distractions.

To get started setting up your successful systems, start with the command center.  Assign a spot for this center, decide what system is going to fit best in that location, and set up the station with labels.  Next, work on your supplies.  Finally, set up your landing spot and then decide on the homework station.  It will take you an hour or two to set up each system.

 

Back to school rules

  1. Wake up. Be awesome.  Go to bed. Have a morning and evening routine.  At your family meeting, create a list of what is a great start to the day including what it takes to head off to school and work.  Discuss each individuals role, as well as how long each responsibility will take.  Set a time for everyone to get up, with an alarm clock.  Some parents choose to get up earlier in order to get more done first.  For the evening routine, start with a set time to begin and end homework. A good start begins with a snack and a good end is when all the papers are packed away and the backpack is in the landing strip with all technology plugged in.   A chart can reinforce these decisions so everyone knows the agreements for the day.
  2. Plan your work and work your plan.  Everyone must have and use a planner. No matter the grade in school, everyone needs a planner.  It’s where all assignments, family events and other information is written. An additional family calendar, located centrally or digitally, can also keep everyone on track.  A completed planner includes notes about every class, including a note saying “no homework.” Using a planner may require some incentives and regular accountability. It’s the one rule that must always be reinforced regularly. More ADHD homework rules here from parents in the homework trenches.
  3. Be the best we can be. Host a family meeting once a week.  Family communication and collaboration is what life is all about and here’s where it happens.  A family meeting gives everyone a chance to share what’s gong on, what’s coming up, and share family values.  Sharing why school is important, what’s behind all that work, and other values helps you and your kids connect. Start with a complement. move on to the calendar and end with fun.
  4. TEAM – together we accomplish more. Partner with your kiddos to help them accomplish goals. Set standards that can be accomplished together.  Track the successes and use “not successes” as learning opportunities by reflecting back with your child what has happened.  Be available as a body double, in their space while they do homework and work alongside them. Create a reminder system to add to, check off and complete homework.  The partnership you build will have long lasting positive impact on your kiddos self esteem and successes.

Back to school rules for your ADHD family

 

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5 Tips to be Highly Organized for Back to School

highly organized back to school home

 

The beginning of school reminds us all of back to school. Whether we are the parent or the child, we are called to be more organized.  Maybe this summer you slacked off a little.  It’s time to get highly organized for back to school.  Take one of these tips and get to work.

 

Highly organized school supplies

We are already bombarded with school supply and back to school sales.  For this reason, shop your own stock first.  If your supplies have been stored all through the house, gather all the school supplies together and assess your organizing.  If you have too many, it’s a great time to donate to school supply drives.  Set aside supplies for your kids’ backpacks, the homework center and school supply stock.  Create a school and office supply area in an easy access closet or rolling cart.

 

Highly organized mornings  and evenings

There’s no need for mornings and evenings to be chaotic. Set up routines that make for smooth transitions at home.  Start the night before for the best tomorrow.   Leave you and your kids stuff at your landing strip ready to go.  Charge everyone’s devices on the charging station over night.  Make breakfast easy and portable where kids can take it on the run with them.  Write out a check list for each person for mornings and evenings and post these where everyone sees them regularly.

Highly organized closets

Getting ready in the morning and getting laundry done are easy when you declutter your closet.  Take an hour to go through each of your kids’ closets and keep only what fits right now.  If the closet or drawers are stuffed, cull out more so that’s it is easy to put away clothes.  Head into your closet and keep only what makes you feel fabulous!  When you can wear all the clothes in  your closet, it’s quick and easy.

 

Highly organized paperwork and digital documents

Family command centers make for a great way to consolidate information.  More schools are going to online access, so two times a week check online just to be sure you are getting all the information  you need.  Process papers in your purse and kids’ backpacks daily to eliminate, sort and categorize and then shred what you don’t need. Capture important dates in email and text each the evening..  What’s most important is to use a family calendar and command center which are the drop spots for this information.

Highly organized team work

The best family team work starts with family communication.  A family meeting is the time to share information and gather ideas.  Family responsibilities can be done together to be sure everyone pitches in. Whether it is a family cleaning time, family dinner prep together or family laundry party, the family that works together gets more done.  It’s how kids learn new skills and parents share lifelong skills.  Get your team organized with consistent team work.

 

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Student success: Apps and more

student success apps and more

 

Student success depends on organization.  That organization includes recording, planning and executing assignments.  It requires attention and focus during school and after school. In the 21st century, education has moved beyond paper and pencil to technology in and out of the classroom.  Apps are a great way to add organization to your student’s work.

 

 Get social

When I was in school, we huddled around the television on snowy mornings, eager for a closing announcement. Today, many school districts share this information via the web and social media. Get yourself in the loop this school year and visit your district’s website to find the following information:

  • Your school’s and/or district’s Twitter feed
  • Any associated Facebook accounts
  • Classroom-specific websites
  • Classroom Blackboard accounts and mobile applications
  • Teacher blogs

Check these weekly to be sure you are up to date.

 

Student apps

Getting your homework done is a matter of consolidating information.  Students have to look on the board, check the teacher’s website and often look at other online spots.   Using a homework app can help you capture it all in one spot.

  • MyHomework  syncs across devices so you can easily access your classes and assignments anytime and anywhere.
  • Skoach has an integrated task-list and calendar for student’s to coordinate classes, tasks and extracurricular activities.
  • Just taking a photo with your smart phone of the assignments listed on the board and then recapping these on your paper planner can work too!

 

Paperless in school

Schools are starting to use technology primarily for assignments.  In a recent Time article, textbooks and worksheets are stored in the cloud.  Your student should be familiar with these apps to use at home and school to consolidate where they store their work.

  • In Dropbox, students have access to documents on their computers, phones, or tablets. They can edit docs, automatically add photos, and work with videos.
  • Evernote: Take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and makes notes searchable.

Study apps

Studying has taken on new options with apps.  These apps are outstanding ways for students to use their learning styles.  With not only visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues, apps make studying more focused, collaborative and interesting.

  • StudyBlue is a collaborative tool for learning vocabulary and concepts.
  • Quizlet helps students learn vocabulary.
  • Essentials by AccelaStudy helps students learn a language.
  • KhanAcademy has math and science tutorials.

Have an app that has worked well for your student?

 

More ideas for successful student strategies here.

 

 

 

 

3 Back to School Tips for Busy Parents

back to school tips for busy parents

 

The school year starts off in a few weeks. It’s a mad dash from August to June with dates, activities, homework, dinner and more.  As parents we are striving for a level of organization and sanity.  These three back to school tips will make your year more organized and less chaotic.

Weekly planning time

Most of your kids invitations and information comes in through email and websites.  It’s hard to consolidate it.  Weekly planning time gives you the opportunity to search through email, school sites, teacher sites and other spots where that information is shared.  Gather up your family calendar and task list, as well as a beverage of choice, and spend an  hour gleaning information. It’s also helpful to sit with your middle and early high school students and make a weekly grid of their homework and after school activities.

 

Choose your calendar that works best for you.  If  you love paper planners, use a paper planner. You can always shoot a photo and share it with your family.  Cozi and Google calendar offer online real time access for everyone in your family.  If you like auditory reminders, set your online calendar and “invite” your family for them to receive alerts too.  Use what works best for you!

 

 

Family meeting

There may be some eye rolling, especially from your spouse, when you mention a family meeting. You can call it the family huddle, gathering time or whatever you prefer.  Hosting a time when everyone shares calendar events and family activities makes family efforts run smoother.   There are always last minute things like baking cupcakes and purchasing poster board. But there will be fewer emergencies when you share during a family time.

 

It’s hard to find a good time to meet after you are back to school. It’s in finding what works for your family that will make hosting your family meeting happen.  Some families sit together after church on Sunday. Some families meet at 5 pm each Sunday.  Decide when you can consistently meet and get started. It’s good to make this pay day for allowances too.

 

Family dinner

Family time together can never be undervalued.  A shared meal is the time for us to share our thoughts and feelings.  But how to overcome all those distractions?   Be realistic about your options.  Even if there is only one time a week, set that expectation.  Dinner time should be a no tech time for everyone, including parents.

 

family dinner conversations

Try something new this year for family dinner conversations. This  dinner conversation jar is filled conversation starters.  It’s a fresh take on that same old conversation.

 

Wishing you and your family the best start to the best back to school ever!

 

More tips for back to school here.

 

Teaching your Teen Time Management

teen time management

 

 

Your kids have known how to tell time since elementary school.  But as teens they are late, don’t get chores complete or other things done on time, and they may even turn in papers late to school.  Time management is more than just knowing how to read a clock.  It’s a struggle for teens to know what to do and how to get things done with time management.

 

According to Psychology Today, time management is just one of the four most critical areas for teens today.  With the level of brain development, teens are not fully equipped for time management.  Because brain development continues into our twenties, teens benefit from our coaching them with time management through high school and college.  Teens are unsure of what to do first, how long it will take to complete and how to get started.  Teen time management includes coaching in prioritizing, duration, and initiation/procrastination.

 

Prioritizing

What’s important and should be done first? That’s a question not only teens struggle with.  Parents don’t always agree on this between themselves.  How do we know what’s most important? It can be a matter of focus for all of us.  However,  you can help your child make these decisions by helping them process what needs to be done.

  • Model your priorities and talk about them with your kids.
  • Encourage your teen to write down their priorities or create a vision board to see their priorities.
  • Grid out with your kids the time available and where their priorities fit on the grid.
  • Take time to plan. Have plan A, B and Z.  It’s important to set tasks into motion, but not be rigid.

 

 

Duration

We don’t know how long it takes to get a specific task done. But we do know that we can guess and set a time on our calendar to get a task done.

  • Help your teen create routines that take just 5 minutes. Make their bed, place laundry in the basket and put trash away are 3 small tasks that take less than 5 minutes all together.
  • Create more time awareness with more analog clocks.  Clocks should be in all your spaces to be sure you are gauging your time.
  • Use the 3 minute rule. If it takes less than 3 minutes, just do it.
  • Break big projects or tasks into baby steps.  Map out small sections of a project, assign a time and date to accomplish them.  Nothing seems as overwhelming when it’s broken into smaller chunks.

 

 

Initiation and Procrastination

  • Make it fun to get started.  Find an innovative way to start a project.  You can add in technology or a gadget, work with a partner, or create a new perspective on the project.
  • Schedule the time to start a project. At that time, use a timer, set for 15 minutes, to help you get started.
  • Brain storm the costs of procrastination. What’s at stake? What’s will happen? Is there is compelling reason to do this?
  • Set up a compelling, organized environment.  A clear work space, quiet or white noise, and easy to access school supplies makes it easier to get started.

 

Tools for time management

Planners

 

Focusing apps

 

On your smartphone

  • Clock with timer for getting started and timing how long a task takes
  • Pandora play list for organizing or homework
  • Notes for making lists
  • Reminders and more tech

 

It takes practice, practice, and practice to learn the skills of time management. Don’t get impatient with  your teen on how long it takes.  Every experience is a learning opportunity here.

 

 

 

Back to School and Back to Routines for Everyone

 

back to school and back to routines

Classes have already started in many places and around Houston.  Football season is around the corner.  Knowing its time to get back to routines is part of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Our routines may have faltered during the hot Summer, but these tried and true routines make a difference in easing our stress.   Back to school means back to routines for moms, dads and everyone!

Your Bedtime

It’s easy to get to bed later and later during the Summer.  It stays light late and it is hard to wind down. Get started getting ready for bed earlier so you can get a great night’s rest. Most of us truly need 8 hours of sleep a night to do our best.

 

Your Lists

There seems to be much more on our plate during this time of year. Make it easy with making lists. It takes a lot to keep remembering all that we need to do.  Your list can be digital or paper.  Write stuff down and then prioritize for the day.

 

Organize and take stock

Stuff may get a little chaotic during the Summer.  All of a sudden your closet, your supplies and your pantry are disorganized.  Take a little time during August to get them back to their regular order.  If you have clothes you have not worn all Summer, it’s time to donate them.  Gather your office supplies together.  Do you have  a good routine for putting back your supplies? Simplify your access to items if you have trouble. Straighten items and review what is in your pantry. Create a checklist on paper or with an app to make shopping easier. Just giving each of these areas a little attention will make each day easier.

 

Your Planner

Summer fun is often spontaneous, but Fall has lots and lots of activities coming up.  Get back to the routine of entering dates in your planner as soon as you know them.  Enter all dates from the school calendar, sports calendars, church calendars and any other activities onto your planner so these are all consolidated.  Having all the dates in one spot makes it easy to see and know what is coming up.

 

Check out my Back to School board on pinterest for other Back to School ideas.

Teaching Your Kids Time Management

kids time management kids

 

Telling time is part of our school curriculum in second grade.  Our kids learn about analog clocks, what time it is and how to tell time. They see digital clocks everywhere in our homes. Telling time is just the first part of time management.  More than just telling time, time management is about prioritizing what to do when, how long a task takes, and breaking a task into smaller steps for completion.   Teaching your kids time management skills takes time, practice and patience.

 

Time management basics

Time management is about prioritizing, duration, and chunking.

  • We prioritize what tasks need to be done when we have a date or deadline.  How do we know what’s important when there is neither of these?  Tasks become a priority when we have a clear value for ourselves personally.  We have parents shaped those values with our family.
  • We know the duration of a task, or how long it takes, from experiences we have.  Each of us can do the same task but have it take different amounts of time depending on many parts.  Allowing ourselves extra time to complete a task makes it easier.
  • Chunking is breaking a task into manageable chunks.  We can’t always complete a task in a certain amount of time, but if we break it into smaller bits we can be assured of completion.

 

Time Management for elementary age kids

As parents are a “talking the talk and walking the walk” of our priorities for our kids.  In elementary school most kids have a variety of academics and extracurricular activities.  We have set up extracurricular activities for our kids to have varied experiences.  Our priorities for their experiences shape their activities.

  • If your family values wellness, choose one activity that includes exercise such as baseball, dance or gymnastics for each child.
  • If your family values spirituality, attend weekly at church or synagogue or bible study.
  • If your family values academic success, establish a daily homework time starting at an early hour.

Keep mindful of how many priorities your family has.  Weigh the value of over committing to an abundance of extracurricular activities.  All activities are good, but which is best for your family.  Your kids can be over scheduled in elementary school and feel stressed by being rushed between activities.

 

Help your kids learn how long a task takes by establishing time for them to work on a chore or a project.  We often are unaware or unsure of how long it takes to unload the dishwasher, look up information on a computer or complete a worksheet as homework.

  • Keep a time log and see how long an activity takes.
  • Set a timer and see how long an activity takes.
  • Use a time timer and see how long an activity takes.

 

Breaking tasks into management pieces takes practice too.  It could be a school related project or organizing your space, but every project can be broken down into smaller units to complete.

  • Use the pomodoro method with a timer, segmenting your work into 20 minutes time slots.
  • Use a mind map and map out a plan for each step of a project.
  • Make a list of the steps in a project.

 

Each of these tools helps you model time management and engage with them in the process. We always need improved processes ourselves.  Teaching our kids will make us use these tools more effectively too.

 

Check out more on time management here.

 

Time is on my side, yes it is!

Quick Start Back to School Routines

 

 

back to school routines

Your kids just got out of school and it is already time for Back To School.  It’s hard to get started, so I have created this series Quick Start Back to School to get everyone going!   The next post is about Back To School routines.

 

For many families the thought of Back to School routines strikes a negative chord.  For some families, they welcome back the thought of getting back into the structure of the school year.

 

Adding just a few times for routines makes a difference for all families.

 

Bedtime routines

 

Starting a week before school starts, inch back bedtime to just 3o minutes before school time bedtime.  Creating a consistent bedtime helps everyone get a better night’s sleep.  Start extra early to allow for conversation.  It may not be dark yet, so adding a soothing sound can help too.

 

Once school starts, have a routine that includes bath, reading and bed.  Eliminate all blue light devices at least an hour before bedtime.

 

Parents need a bedtime too during the school year. Be realistic about the amount of sleep you need.  Sleep procrastination for parents can be a real problem!

 

Homework routines

 

Homework should have a start and finish time.  Once your kids hit the door, have a snack and start by 4pm.  The early start means homework ends before dinner.  Use a timer to get your kids started and work in 15 or 20 minute intervals, with 5 minute breaks (known as the Pomodoro Technique) for best focus.

 

Homework ends when everything is tucked back in the backpack and by the landing strip.  This spot can be at the entry where you head to the car.  Your purse, laptop and any other items should be ready to go in the morning too.

 

Other family routines

 

Family meeting time is an important communication and team building time. It’s when everyone posts to the family calendar, talks about upcoming events and shares time together.  Be sure to decide when you will meet and you will truly be amazed at the benefits.

 

Grocery shopping makes it easier to prepare family meals, healthy snacks and lunches for school.  Set a weekly time to shop and decide on how you will create your list. A magnetic list is great and so is the app GroceryIQ.

 

If your family is struggling, create a check list on a dry erase board to help them keep on top of their responsibilities and routines.

 

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Quick Start Back to School Healthy Meals

quick start back to school healthy meals

Your kids just got out of school and it is already time for Back To School.  It’s hard to get started, so I have created this series Quick Start Back to School to get everyone going!   The next post is about Back To School healthy meals and snacks. 

Back to school is the time healthy meals and snacks for our family are most important.  We want everyone to feel energized and focused as they get back into the school groove.  There are lots of glitches in getting healthy meals on the table, but streamlining and simplifying make dinner time easier.

 

 

Snack, dinner and lunch ideas

Often we get stuck at the first step – that being what to make! We feel overwhelmed by choices, by complicated recipes, too many different tastes in our family and by a lack of prep time.

  • Poll your family first.  They know what they like.   No need to reinvent the wheel.  Simplifying with consistency.
  • Use lists.  It’s easier than pulling ideas from your head.  Post the list where you and your family can see it.  The list can be a weekly, Monday – Friday list of dinner ideas.  It can also be a list with days of the week assigned to a category, like Monday is breakfast for dinner, Tuesday is Italian night.  It can also be a list of what’s already in your freezer, such as proteins and veggies.
  • Allow for options for picky eaters. If one child only eats hot dogs, just keep a quantity on hand.
  • Gather ideas by looking online at pinterest.  It’s a fun way to try easy new recipes with lots of basic instruction.

 

 

Preparation

We never seem to have enough time.  Planning in prep time and grocery shopping make it easier.  Having a day of the week that is grocery day helps you save time and energy all week, rather than running out at the last minute for milk or eating out.  Even if you shop twice a week, you are planning better!

  • Include kids in prepping food.  It’s more fun with everyone in the kitchen together.  If your kids are younger, ask them to set the table or empty the silverware in the dishwasher.  All kids love to help when food is around.
  • Prep lunches the night before to avoid the morning scramble.  It’s easy with lunch boxes ready to go.  Have your kids help with this too.
  • Work in bulk.  When prepping for lunch, double up your recipe and bag it up. Set aside one shelf in your refrigerator for lunches.

 

Reap the rewards

Over and over I see the value of family dinner. If your schedule does not permit it nightly, plan on one night a week.  Your family fun quotient will go sky high!

 

 

Not sure what to make for dinner?  Ideas for dinner on my Dinner’s Ready pinterest board.

 

 

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