The start of school us upon us. However, this year is unlike any year we have had before. Some schools are starting with in-person classes, while others are implementing a hybrid model. And some schools are going 100% virtual. Whatever model your family is following, here are five ways you can start the school year as organized as possible.
Create a Custom Charging Station
Whether you are virtual or not, devices are essential to completing schoolwork and assignments. Factor in multiple children and multiple devices, and disorganization can happen quickly. “Mom, where’s my charger?” “Mom, I can’t find my iPad!” “Mom, I accidentally cracked the screen of my phone because I left it on the floor and stepped on it.” Does this sound familiar? Setting up a charging station can alleviate some of these common problems.
In my experience, products that are marketed as a charging station usually don’t work. They are only successful if you have the same number of products it was designed for.
By thinking creatively, you can use common products to design a charging station that will work for your family. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Paper tray sorters
A vertical organizer will allow you to easily stand laptops, tablets, and phones while running the cords from the back. The cords can be attached to each slot to prevent a tangled mess. Consider buying a metal organizer instead of plastic because it will be stronger and support the weight of the devices better. Each slot can be labeled with the person and device stored in it.
A stacking horizontal organizer will allow you to store devices in each tray. Depending on the height of each tray, you may be able to have one slot per person that can hold multiple devices. Look for one that is open in the back and on the sides so you can run the cords easily.
I like this one because it has a drawer at the bottom for holding mice and earbuds.
Look for shallow, mesh wire drawers to allow for heat from the devices to escape during charging. Depending on how the drawer is designed, you can also drill a hole in the side or back of each drawer to run and attached the cords. Each drawer can hold all devices for each family members.
Get into a Schedule or a Routine
Having a schedule or routine will be essential to staying organized, especially if you are doing a virtual school. Setting expectations of what the day will look like can help build in transitions for the children. This can help them manage their time better and help them understand when they need to focus their attention and when it will be time to relax.
This schedule/routine will look very different for each family depending on how the school day is structured. Remember to first block off the non-negotiable times (Zoom calls, meeting with teachers, tests, etc.). Then build in transitions with the remaining time for things like lunch, recess/outside play/stretching, and the bathroom.
Set Up a White board
Dry erase boards can be your best friend during school! In a virtual setting it can help keep students on track with what assignments need to be completed, and when. It can be difficult to manage an online portal like Google Classroom or Moodle where teachers are posting assignments, communication, and messages.
Posts can get buried easier by new posts leading to missed assignments. Have the student capture what needs to be completed on the white board as soon as they see it. They can even color-code assignments by class. Having a board to refer to creates a visual reference to help the student stay organized and complete assignments on time. This is much for convenient that checking each class’ Google Classroom or Moodle page. The student can easily cross-off or erase what is completed.
If you have older children, consider getting a small board for each child to manage. With younger children, it might be better for mom or dad to get one large board where they can keep track of what all the children need to work on in one central location. You can divide the board for each child or color code to distinguish each child’s assignments.
Build a Work Station
Whether you need a place to work while completing virtual school or completing homework after attending school in person, having an organized work station is essential. There is no right or wrong place to complete your work. It may be a designated desk for each student, it might be everyone working together at the dining room table, or it might even be a swing in the backyard!
Whatever you choose, it needs to be free of distractions and contain all necessary materials for completing work. Consider adding headphones, paper, and pens to eliminate the need for the child to leave the workspace to get materials. Every time they have to leave the workspace will cause them to loose focus.
If you are working all together at the table, consider adding a privacy board to subdivide the table and create an individual workspace for each student. You can cut a trifold presentation board in half and create two spaces for the price of one. The inside of the board can also be a place to hang a dry erase board for child to reference to keep them focused on assignments they should be working on.
Get a Clock… or Multiple
Have an analog (not a digital) clock everywhere! In order to truly learn about time management, children need to see time. If you can’t see it, you can’t manage it. It escapes you quickly. An analog clock tells you where you are in relation to time. You can see what 10 times prior looks like and what 10 minutes in the future looks like. With digital, you can only see the one thing – the time right now.
If you have specific questions about this, I’d love to address them. Please leave a comment or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.