When the kids get home from school, does your kitchen table turn into a mess of papers, backpacks and lunchboxes? You can tame the wild, after-school mess!
First Things First
As soon as your child walks in the door, before snacks, video games, and bike-riding, his backpack must be unpacked. Homework and important information must be pinned to a special clipboard (see below). Lunchboxes have to be unpacked and put away. Have your child do the bulk of the work, but help out where you can.
Only after his backpack is empty can other activities take place. Be a stickler about this. This will help establish a daily routine that will help both you and your children stay organized.
Save Important Papers
Each child should have a clipboard of his or her own choosing. All important school papers and homework should be clipped to this clipboard every day. This helps to do the following:
- To keep each child’s mail separate. (When you get a note from the school saying that someone in your child’s class has head lice, you don’t need to wonder which class!) and
- Keeps important papers safe. It avoids fishing through piles of papers trying to find homework and permission slips.Hang the clipboards in the kitchen or any place where kids do homework. Later, you can go through the clipboards, see what each child has to do for homework and review other papers.
Hang It Up
Make sure every child has a hook where she can hang her backpack. A hook gets the backpack off the floor and gives each backpack a designated home when not in use. As soon as the children unpack homework, lunches, and classroom mail, the backpack must be hung on its hook.
The hooks can be simple and utilitarian, or they can be fun and special to each child. To make it easy, hang each child’s hook in the place where the backpack usually ends up. If your son drops his backpack by the front door, put his hook in the coat closet. If your daughter prefers to leave her backpack on the floor of her room, put her hook by her bedroom door. Working with your child’s established habits will help them to make the transition to using the hooks. Make it easy for them, so it will be easier for you.
This may seem like a lot to do immediately after school, especially when kids are howling for juice and snacks. It really only takes a few minutes and the time saved, (by not searching for homework pages and band information sheets), will more than make up for the time spent.
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