My kids are in early elementary school and these methods allow them to do things for themselves so I don't have to do it all for them. It takes a load off me, and teaches them independence and personal responsibility. Mainly it takes a load off me!
Checklists. I'm a big fan of checklists, not only for my kids but also (and especially) for myself. I can't follow routines, they feel restrictive to me so I use checklists instead. My kids have responded really well to checklists. Instead of nagging them constantly about what needs to be done, I just remind them to check their lists and "do it 'till it's done!"
My kids have several checklists, which I print out and post in prominent places. Inside the back door where we go to and from the car are their Before School and After School checklists.
The Before School checklist has all the stuff they need to bring with them to school:
- lunchbox or lunch ticket
- water bottle
- homework folder with homework in it
- school sweatshirt
The After School checklist is what they need to do when they get home from school:
- Change clothes
- Empty lunchbox
- Homework folder to Mama for papers
- Do homework
- Pack finished homework into homework folder and into backpack
My kids wear uniforms to school, which makes it easier for everyone in my opinion. There's never any question of what's okay to wear to school, no decisions over what to wear. Just put it on and go. But, it has to be clean. Since we don't have a dryer, anything dirty has to be washed the night before so it has time to dry on the radiators before school in the morning.
So, I have a Clothes Checklist that goes on their bedroom door, and they have to lay out ALL their clothes the night before so if they need anything washed there's time for it to be washed and dry by morning.
Here is the Clothes Checklist:
- Trousers or Skirt
- Socks or Tights
The sweatshirt is usually the problematic item. It's a school logo item and we only have a few. They usually end up at the bottom of the backpack by the end of the day so it's often forgotten about. If it got gunged with yogurt or streaked with paint it's a nasty surprise in the morning. So I have them lay it out the night before with the rest of their clothes so it can get washed if needed.
White board. Something I started using this summer that we all really like is a white board in the kitchen showing what today's schedule is. At the top I write "Today is" and the day and date. Especially during the summer when it's easy to lose track of what day it is, this has been extremely helpful. Knowing the day's schedule at the beginning of the day helps my kiddos know what to expect. If there are after-school activities or specific things going on that day they are ready for them.
Tote bags. Something else that has helped us all enormously are designated tote bags. My daughter's dance gear stays in her dance tote bag, so when it's dance day I just grab the bag and go. When her uniform gets washed, it goes straight back in the bag. Hairbands and pins, extra tights, and whatever else she needs stays in there all the time. When it's time to pay for class, I write the check and put it and the payment form into the dance bag, so next time we go it's already with us. We have equivalent tote bags for music and sports. They never get unloaded, everything we need stays in those bags so we can just grab them and go!
What else has helped you keep your kids organized? Please share!