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13 Back to School Tips and Tools for Organized Kids

Finding the right school organization habits will keep the whole family happy.

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Girl getting off a school busFatCamera/Getty Images

Storage and organization are lifelong skills. Finding the right back to school tips, tricks and tools now will help kids succeed through K-12 and college. And their school organization skills will continue to help them when they start a career. Add these ideas into your routine for the upcoming school year.

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Cozi Family Calendar Appvia

Family Calendar App

Using a family calendar app such as Cozi Family Organizer allows you to pencil in family gatherings, date nights, soccer practices, birthdays, graduation parties and more, so everyone can stay aware of upcoming time commitments.

If your teen babysits on your date nights, the schedule will tell them when they can and can’t make plans with friends. And you’ll know not to schedule a date for homecoming weekend.

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Chalkboard scheduleRebecca Nelson/Getty Images

Physical Family Schedule

While apps are convenient and portable, a physical calendar still has its merits. Younger children might not have their own devices. Internet can be slow. Dates and times can be entered incorrectly by mistake.

Whatever your reason may be, having a paper, whiteboard or chalkboard schedule is a good idea. Try pairing a long-term digital calendar with a week at a glance whiteboard.

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Letter trayvia

Parents’ Letter Tray

The back-to-school season includes countless forms and flyers for parents. Permission slips and other forms are notoriously easy to lose. One of the best back to school tips is a designated mail spot. Place a letter tray or other mail organizer on your desk or in your kids’ study area, and teach them to put parents’ mail in the letter tray right away.

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mother and son cleaning out backpack for schoolDrazen Zigic/Getty Images

Clean Backpacks Weekly

Backpacks become a catch-all for loose papers and empty wrappers. Set aside time each week for cleaning.

Empty the pockets, toss the trash and file graded assignments as future study materials. Then vacuum out any dirt or crumbs before replacing the school supplies. This is also a second line of defense against lost permission slips.

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Mother and daughter packing backpack for schoolfotostorm/Getty Images

Keep Backpacks Light

Binders become heavy with notes after just a few weeks. Keep backpacks light with a home filing system.

At the end of each week, when you clean the backpacks, have your kids place notes and coursework into a color-coded school organization box. Instead of lugging a whole semester’s notes to and from school each day, they can check the box of files whenever they need it.

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2021 2022 Weekly And Monthly Plannervia

Individual Planner

In addition to a family calendar, give each of your children a personal planner. This is the schedule they’ll use in the classroom.

A planner does more than hold assignments and due dates. It helps them divide large projects into manageable chunks, then schedule soft due dates for each component. Getting into that habit now will prevent future cramming and all-nighters.

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Student girl studying at home in her roomSol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

Comfortable Study Space

Treat your kids’ study space like a home office, keeping school supplies organized and accessible in the study room.

Don’t let them do homework in bed. Separating their workspace from their sleep space will keep them from nodding off in the middle of assignments and help them sleep better at night. Getting enough sleep is the most important back-to-school tip.

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Backpacks hanging from hooksDonNichols/Getty Images

Designated Backpack Spot

The dreaded afternoon backpack dump makes any house look cluttered. Coat hooks or cubby units are better backpack homes than the floor.

If you have enough space in the study area, keep bookbags there. Otherwise, the entryway works. Pack up the bags every night after finishing homework to avoid scrambling in the morning.

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Jansport Laptop Backpack02via

Electronics Case to Keep Supplies Safe

Whether your child brings a cell phone, iPod or tablet to school, prevent dents and cracks from bumpy backpack rides. Double up on electronic protection with a case for each device and a backpack with an electronics compartment.

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Flash drivesvia

Portable Storage Drive

Some schools provide laptops and tablets for students to bring home. Many don’t. That’s when a flash drive or external hard drive comes in handy. When class time in the computer lab is over, your little learners can save their work onto the portable drive. Then they can continue working at home or at the library.

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Small teal desk clockvia

Physical Clock

Using a smart phone or tablet as a clock encourages distractions. And children need to practice reading an analog clock.

Use a visual model for younger kids who are still learning. Buy a cheap clock and color in time blocks like slices of pie. Give a corresponding color code key with tasks like homework time, play time and dinner time.

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alarm clock on table next to young boy sleepingdjedzura/Getty Images

Trusty Alarm Clock

A good alarm clock makes for better nights and mornings. You can get smart alarm clocks that show your schedule for the day, the weather forecast and more, or you can download an alarm clock app on your smart device. These are especially beneficial for heavy sleepers. Make sure everyone in the family has an alarm clock that works for them.

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Mother monitoring children using smart devices on sofa at homeMoMo Productions/Getty Images

Parental Controls on Devices

Did you know that you can set time constraints your kids’ devices? If you find your students getting distracted, use the parental controls to restrict certain apps and websites during homework and sleep time. It will force them to learn focus. And work before play is a good habit for them to form.

Mikayla Borchert
Mikayla is an assistant editor for Family Handyman, specializing in indoor and outdoor gardening, organization and décor. She has one cat and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, she likes running, skiing, hiking and tending her balcony garden.