Back to school organizing

Table of Contents

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These Back to School Hacks will have you totally prepped!

Since June has passed, this is now the time when I like to start helping you get organized for the year ahead. If just seeing this title freaks you out, pin it for later! There are loads of great tips here, so you definitely won’t want to miss them. I already have a few of them brewing in my head!

Let’s see those back to school hacks…

We all know how tough the first day of middle school can be, but J Man and Miller Bug have come up with this middle school survival kit that will help a ton.

How cute are these personalized notebooks by Momtastic? They are a huge upgrade than what you can find at the big box store.

Learn how to make a EOS highlighter with Kimspired DIY.

Homework time will be a cinch when you are prepared with a back to school homework caddy like this one by Lemons, Lavender and Laundry.

There are some great tips from Passion for Savings on how to save a little cash on school supplies this year.

While He Was Napping has the best ever printable for packing a school lunch. This will come in so handy.

These easy lunch box ideas by Bellyfull are really creative and will definitely be a kid pleaser!

Gurl.com has come up with a really handy checklist for stocking your high school locker.

I adore these printable watercolor notebook covers from the girls at Eighteen 25. No need to purchase fancy notebooks when you can use the less expensive ones and fancy them up!

Set up a backpack station in your home where everything will have it’s place. I love how House Envy even has baskets for shoes for each child… so smart!

Devote an area in your pantry and create a school lunch station like this one from Uncommon Designs. They even pin the school lunch menu to the cupboard door and circle which days they want to eat at school.

I love this fun turntable for school supplies from Mom on Timeout. So creative!

Portable Homework Station from Princess Pinky Girl!

Help your kids with time management (source unknown)

These family organization stations will also come in super handy this time of year. You’ll definitely want to check these out!

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If you make a Princess Pinky Girl creation make sure you take a picture and share it on Instagram with @princesspinkygirl ! I love seeing your masterpieces!

10 Ways to Stay Organized When Studying

Have you ever struggled with studying? Is staying organized and tackling information for exams a challenge? If so, there could be a simple solution. Maybe you need help with new organization techniques which will not only make studying easier, but more enjoyable. Staying organized while you study is a great way boost your retention levels and increase your overall test scores. What are some of the best ways to stay organized when studying? Keep reading below to find out.

1. Learn the Cornell note taking method to organize notes

The Austin Community College shows that there are many benefits to note taking. According to their website, note taking keeps you alert, engages your mind, helps you emphasise and organize important information, and it creates a condensed record for study. If you are unsure of how to begin taking great notes, you can use Cornell notes to start. This method involves dividing a sheet of paper into three sections. One section is for general note taking, the other is to emphasis key points, and the final is to summarize the info and highlight the key points after class in order to review and reflect upon what was discussed.

2. Use binders and notebooks

Using binders or notebooks is a great way to organize your notes. If you sit down to study, but it takes hours just to organize the information you have, it will be hard to focus on learning the material. Binders help keep your notes organized and separated by subject, which will also help speed along the process of finding information later. Use tabs with labels for important information so it is readily accessible.

3. Write the date and topic of your class discussion at the top of your notes

Before you can become an organized studier, you must first learn how to take good notes. Taking notes is essential to reviewing for tests and quizzes later, so if you are not already taking notes this is a great place to start. At the beginning of each class or lecture, put the topic and date of each lecture at the top of the first page. This will make it easier to find information later on when you are reviewing.

4. Create a schedule for studying

Set aside time each week for studying by making a schedule. You can make it so you study a certain amount of time every day, or only study on certain days. The idea is to make it a routine so you get into the habit of studying regularly.

5. Use a calendar to plan

By using a calendar, it will be far easier to plan out exactly how much time you should set aside to study. Start by counting backwards from the day of each exam so you can see how many days and hours you have to prepare. Working in study time around other competing schedules will ensure that you give yourself enough time to get ready for your exams and will make studying less stressful.

6. Organize your workspace

Find a place to study. It can be anywhere you feel you will perform the best. Some people prefer using their own homes but others like to go to a public place, like a library. Just choose a dedicated location where you can study with ample time and little distraction. Make sure this workspace is organized. It should be clutter free and have the supplies you need to study effectively.

A list of things you should have include:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Note Cards
  • Different Color Highlighters
  • Tabs
  • A Stapler
  • Plenty of Paper
  • Anything Else You May Need

By keeping these items stocked up, it will reduce the time you spend looking for things you need when you should be studying.

7. Use color coded flash cards


Photo Source

Using flash cards is a tried and true method of studying. It appeals to a wide range of learning styles and is quite an effective way to increase the amount of information you can recall and memorize for tests. By color coding flash cards, you can keep them organized by subject or even by individual subject categories.

However, technology is changing how you can create flash cards. There are many digital resources available and quite a number of flash card apps you can download on your smartphone or tablet. Check out this list of awesome flash card apps.

8. Eliminate distractions

When you are studying, staying focused can be challenging. Eliminate as many distractions as you can so that you can stay focused on your work. Stay off your cell phone and social media until later. Some people like noise while they are working, but the TV can be very distracting. Instead, try listening to film scores or instrumental music or a white noise app. This will have the same effect but will not be as intrusive as TV shows and advertisements.

9. Divide information into sections

Attacking a large portion of information at once can be overwhelming. Break down your notes and subjects into smaller groups. For example, if you have a list of terms, try dividing them into groups of ten and study only ten words at a time. Once you have mastered these words, move on to the next ten. Continue this trend until you have learned all the words you need to know. Use your study schedule and calendar mentioned above to decide which subjects to study on which days instead of trying to study everything all at once.

10. Set a timer and take breaks

When you are studying, it is very important to take breaks. According to Psych central, taking breaks actually can help improve your overall focus. If you have trouble focusing on studying, try setting a timer for 30-50 minutes and study until the timer goes off. Then, set the timer again for ten minutes and take a quick break. Once the timer goes off again, set it for another 30-50 minutes and so on.

In conclusion, staying organized when you study will help you learn more and get better grades. However, it starts with taking good notes and maintaining a system to organize them. If you can’t find your notes or if you don’t have any to begin with, studying becomes increasingly more difficult.

Let us know what you think in the comments below! Do you have any other tips to staying organized when studying?

GMAT Blog

Preparing for the GMAT is no small ordeal. It requires patience, focus, dedication, hard work, and organization. I’d like to focus on organization and planning in relation to test prep because it seems to be an aspect of preparation that students neglect. But taking the time to organize, and planning before hand, can have untold benefits for test preparation.

1. A Schedule

Nothing will lead to success more than a study schedule. It will take some time to set up, but this is time well spent because it means that every time you sit down to study you will be more efficient.

2. Use a Calendar

Find the date of your test and start working backwards. Even if you are using a prefab GMAT study plan, you should still sit down and look at all the days and weeks before the test, and map out the plan. Mark out the hours that you will study, the days you know you will be too busy, and the flex days for extra studying if something unexpected cuts into your study days.

3. Set Big Goals and Small Goals

The big goals are set—ace the test and get into a top school. But you also need small goals and tasks for each day you study. Layout a plan for the small goals and tasks for each day ahead of time. This will ensure you cover all the necessary material before the test and give you little boosts of confidence when you accomplish the small, daily goals.

4. Regular Study

Haphazard studying is tantamount to not studying. Try the best you can to set up a regular time during the day. And even try to set up regular study days. The more that you can make studying and prepping a routine, the more habit forming you make it, the more effective your study time will be. Your body and mind will be primed and ready to learn. Pro Tip: Schedule your test for the same time that you study.

5. Balance

Plan for breaks. Usually, 5 minutes for every hour of studying is sufficient. Also, don’t dedicate the whole day to only one thing. Add variety to your studying so that you cover a range of topics in a two or three hour period. You will actually learn more and retain more by mixing things up. This goes for day-to-day studies also. Spend some time reviewing material from a previous week as well as learning something new. Finally, eight hour power sessions of study are not necessarily the best way to learn. Plan ahead and spend a few hours studying over the course of multiple days. This is far better.

6. Notebook

Your notebook is as important as the material you use to prepare for the test. You need high-quality practice questions just as much as you need an organized approach to taking notes and recording your progress. Here are a few tips for your notebook.

7. Get a Notebook You Like

This might seem obvious, which is probably why it is often overlooked, but having an object that you inherently like will encourage you to use it more. If this means spending a little more on a notebook with nice paper, do it. The extra cash is worth it.

8. Write the Date

Every time you start a new page, write the date at the top. This will make it easier to navigate your notebook and to search through it for a particular formula. I know this might seem obvious, but it is what is most obvious that we tend to overlook.

9. Write Down Everything

You never know when you will want to return to a problem you solved or a strategy you discovered through your studies. Make note of everything you notice along the way: the types of questions you miss, the reason you missed a question, a shortcut you learn, a new grammar point to remember, or a creative approach to a math problem. Also, the act of writing everything down will help to cement the ideas in your mind.

10. Create A Personal Cheat Sheet

Not for cheating, but for remembering—a cheat sheet is a quick reference guide of question types, common wrong answer traps, math formulas, commonly tested grammar points, and anything else that you might need to reference as you begin to study. When you review your notes from a study session, add the most crucial information to your cheat sheet.

Use your cheat sheet as you study and don’t be afraid to look at it. The cheat sheet serves the same purpose as training wheels on a bike—something to get you started. But at a certain point, the training wheels hold you back from really riding a bike. Same goes for the cheat sheet. At a certain point, you will notice that you don’t need to look at the cheat sheet, and you can just dive in and dominate those practice questions.

11. When You Study

Finally, we are ready to study, but hold on and look around. Is there something more that you can do to increase your chance for success?

12. Study Space

Make it neat. It’s as easy as that. Eliminate all the nonsense and clutter, and not just on your desk, but in the whole room. The more you clean the space, the easier it will be to focus, find materials, and learn.

13. Mimic Testing Environment

This is more for when you take practice tests, but even for your regular study, do your best to mimic the test. If it is on a computer, make sure to practice on a computer. But don’t just use your laptop. Borrow someone else’s computer or go to a library and use a computer you are not comfortable on. Use a whiteboard for your notes instead of pen and paper. You want to minimize surprises on the day of the test, so take the time to find out what the testing environment is like and mimic it when you study.

When you hear the words “executive function,” what types of skills come to mind first? If you’re like many teachers, you might immediately think of a child’s ability to organize, study efficiently, and manage time well. Executive function encompasses more than that, but these skills tend to spring to mind first for a reason: because they’re critical underlying abilities with a significant and lasting impact on children’s school success.

Today’s post gives you fifteen strategies for helping students with executive function challenges conquer homework, tests, and long-term projects. Adapted from the practical guidebook Executive Function in the Classroom by Christopher Kaufman, these tips will help you and your students’ parents provide effective support at school and at home–and give kids the skills they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Organization

Dedicate one homework space

For kids with executive function issues, having too many home-based workspaces destroys organization and productivity and increases the likelihood of misplaced supplies and assignments. So at the start of the school year, encourage parents to establish one (and only one!) homework space for their child, whether it’s the bedroom desk, the kitchen table, or another quiet area. Ask parents to help their child design a clutter-free materials management system for the space. All academic supplies should always be in their designated places in the workspace–for example, it’s not okay for pens and erasers to be strewn across the desk after homework is done. If parents can strictly enforce a good organizational system, effective materials management will slowly become a habit for their child.

Establish consistent schedules and routines

Random, inconsistent homework schedules are tough for kids with executive function challenges to follow–and can often lead to avoidance, fatigue, and distraction. Setting a regular schedule is one of the best ways to help students get things done consistently and efficiently. Encourage parents to establish regularly scheduled homework periods for their child. On days when they don’t have homework, the child can use that time for reading, journal writing, or another quiet activity.

Use checklists and inspections

“I forgot my spelling list at school.” Parents of kids with executive function challenges are probably no stranger to stress-inducing statements like these. You can help by developing a daily school-to-home checklist of the materials that need to make it into the backpack. Early in the year, you or another classroom staff member should supervise as the child completes the checklist, and then support can be faded (though spot-checks should still be done a few times a week). On the home front, parents can review the checklist with their child right before and after school to make sure all the needed materials are in the child’s backpack and ready to go.

Less is more

Students with executive function challenges might need specific homework modifications due to the high levels of cognitive and emotional fatigue they tend to experience. When designing modifications, start by looking at the instructional intent of the assignment you give to the larger class. Look for ways to reduce the production demands of an assignment–narrative writing, organization of numerous details into new ideas–while still maintaining the core objective of the lesson. Assignments with heavy output requirements can actually do more harm than good for students with executive function weaknesses. Following the less is more rule of thumb can help students learn more effectively, and can also cut back on negative outcomes like incomplete work and increased family stress.

Use highly structured and signed assignment books

Assignment books, agenda books, daily homework planners–whatever you call them, these planning tools are familiar to most teachers and parents. But like any other planning tool, they only work if they’re used consistently. To help kids with executive function challenges:

  • Keep the assignment books as simple as possible to encourage student use. (Bear in mind that many students with executive function weaknesses are averse to intensive writing tasks.)
  • Supervise their use daily–the teacher should initial the book every day at school and a parent should initial it at home.
  • Give students explicit instructions on what to write down in the assignment book (or at least check them before the school day ends to ensure that the student has recorded assignments accurately).

Supervise organization at school and home

Because students with executive function challenges may struggle to follow even the best organizational systems, parents and teachers should provide “surrogate frontal lobe support” in the form of direct, individualized supervision. Before a homework session begins, a parent can help by supervising the child’s retrieval and return of needed materials to their designated places. At school, you can provide the student with not only an organizational system but also the guidance and reminders they need to make the system work.

Study Skills

Explicitly model notetaking

Good study skills begin with good notetaking in class. Author Christopher Kaufman describes one great example of effective notetaking instruction:

“Probably the best notetaking instruction I have ever witnessed for students with executive function weaknesses was in a ninth-grade Western Civilization class. Because of the rather heterogeneous nature of the academic and executive skill sets among the students in the class, the teacher determined early in the year that the only way she could ensure that all students took effective notes on the content she was teaching was to model the notes she wanted them to take on an overhead projector (as part of her teaching).

As I sat in the back of her classroom, observing a student with Asperger syndrome, I saw this highly effective instructional strategy in action and how it benefited even the students whose executive needs tended to make them rather poor notetakers in other classes. After presenting some specific bit of information and then opening it up to class discussion, the teacher would summarize the essential learning points on the transparencies on the projector while telling the group the reasons for the phrases/keywords chosen for inclusion in the notes. She also paused the discussion every several minutes, directed the students to copy what was on the projector into their notebooks, and then wandered the room to ensure that everyone was doing as instructed.”

This example demonstrates the value of explicitly teaching notetaking. This teacher not only achieved the goal of her lesson, she also taught her whole class how to summarize and organize key information on paper.

Use notetaking templates

Notetaking templates are an excellent way to help students organize important information in a format that will help them study and retain it for tests and assignments. Set up your template as a two-column question-and-answer format that the student can fill in, or try a three-column format that also prompts students to write down a strategy (such as a mnemonic device) they can use to recall the information. Graphic organizers can also be an effective notetaking tool. For students with executive function challenges, try organizers with a straightforward sequential flow rather than complex ones that branch out in many directions.

Show students exactly what to study and how to study it

To study effectively and perform well on tests, students need to know how to distinguish the really important information from less important information. This can be a challenge for kids with executive function issues, which can make studying for a test seem impossibly difficult. You can help level the playing field by giving these students explicit instruction about which information and materials they should focus on when they study. Then you and/or the special educator can provide clear strategies for the how of studying–for example, help students construct study aids like flashcards, mind maps, and note consolidation systems.

Establish study schedules and routines

Students with executive function issues are more likely to underestimate the time they need to prepare for a test (see the Time Management section below). Support their studying by helping them schedule and stick to study time. For regularly scheduled quizzes and examinations, both teachers and parents can create weekly studying schedules and write them into assignment books several weeks in advance. Students should be supported to stick to the schedules like clockwork–don’t let them skip a scheduled weekly study period, even if they say they already know the material. Consistent study routines are key to helping students build stronger executive function skills.

Time Management

Limit or carefully structure topic choices

Giving your students choices is a good thing–but when kids with executive function challenges are faced with endless possibilities, they can easily get stuck on a decision. To ease topic selection for a project, limit the choices available to students. Give them three historical figures to choose from for their biography project, or carefully support them during the selection process so they don’t get bogged down.

Turn mountains into a series of molehills

For students with executive function challenges, a multi-step project might seem like a towering mountain that’s impossible to climb. No wonder they get overwhelmed! You can help by structuring a larger assignment as a series of “molehills”–small elements that are each do-able on their own. As students keep checking off small tasks they complete, they’ll build a sense of project mastery and optimism, and the mountain won’t seem so insurmountable after all.

Be specific about project steps and deadlines

Often, students with executive function challenges have difficulty sensing the passing of time and ballparking how long a project will take. Vague reminders about deadlines don’t do much to help them–instead, try giving very specific instructions linked to specific steps and deadlines. Kaufman provides this teacher script as an example:

“Michael, the notecard step of the Africa project should take you about a week. That’s it. To make sure you’re making good progress, though, let’s get started on it today, you and me, during independent work time at the end of the period. Then I want you to bring me five more completed note cards on your topic this Wednesday and five more the following Monday. Come on, let’s get that written down in your assignment book. I’ll also send your mom a quick email to let her know the plan.”

Provide lots of individualized project coaching

It might be tempting to think that students with executive function challenges just need to “step it up” and “learn to do things on their own.” But while it’s important to foster their independence, you can’t just insist they manage a long-term project with many task demands while receiving the same level of support as their peers. To succeed, they’ll need individualized coaching and regular check-ins from you and their parents along the way.

Complete a structured project planning form

Try creating a project planning form to ensure that every student in a class is making good progress toward completing long-term assignments. The form should include topic selection, materials gathering, and all the other small “molehill” steps of the assignment process. Have a column for due dates and another column the students can check off when they show each completed step to you. This is a great way for students to demonstrate their progress in a concrete way, and an easy way for you to stay on top of a student’s individual coaching needs as they go from step to step.

***

What’s the best, most practical way to develop the executive function skills of all your students? Build executive function teaching and practice right into your curriculum, from day one. If you implement teaching methods that target the needs of students with executive function challenges, you’ll end up improving the organization, planning, and time management skills of every student in your classroom.

For more practical guidance on helping students develop skills in these and other key executive function areas–including impulse control, working memory, planning skills, and self-regulation–pick up Christopher Kaufman’s Executive Function in the Classroom.

Want some time-management tips that are great for students and teachers? Check out this infographic by writer and blogger Donna Norton!

Back to school: 10 ways to make it less painful

In this day and age, a lot of people wonder why we still even go to school or university when everything has become readily available to us at the click of a button. Need to know when man first landed on the moon? Google it. Want music? Go on YouTube. Need to know what’s 67 percent of 110? We have calculators on our phones for that.

Yet, although we have all this information at our fingertips, school or university is about so much more than mastering equations or memorizing dates: Not only is the learning you do in a classroom or lecture hall still fundamentally different than a few rushed minutes in front of a small screen, a huge – and I’d argue the best – part of school and university life are the personal connections you make with professors and peers.

But going back to school after a long summer break can be tough. To make it easier on everyone, we’ve identified ten ways to make this landing a little smoother and the start of school that much easier.

1. Start your routine early

You can’t expect to go to bed around 2am and survive hearing your alarm blaring at 6:45am. So, about a week before school starts, start going to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early. This is way better than having to start your day with 10 cups of coffee.

2. Make a to-do list

Create a list of everything you need to buy and what you need to do. You’ll feel more accomplished and can battle an enemy worse than bullies: procrastination.

3. Get ready the night before

If you’re anything like me, then you probably waste a good hour in the morning trying to find an outfit to wear. Instead, pick your outfit and pack your bags the night before. This will save you a lot more time in the morning, so that you can sleep more or even have a second breakfast. #winning

4. Eat your breakfast. Seriously.

Eat it! Everyday. It’s what will give you the energy and focus you need to make it through the day. Remember, your brain needs fuel just like your car.

5. Plan your commute

Are you driving? Biking? Or hopping on a train? Make sure that it’s all planned out, so you have at least a fighting chance of arriving on time. And make sure you have your gadgets with you and fully charged – there’s nothing worse than running out of battery on your smartphone on your way to school or uni, or forgetting your headphones at home and having to listen to your seat neighbor’s loud phone conversation at 8 in the morning.

6. Map out your schedule

Check your schedule and then try to picture how long it would take to go from class to class. If you have time, even do a trial run. Especially if you go to a big school, this will prevent you from getting lost or accidentally walking into the wrong class and making up some awkward excuse.

7. Stay on your professor’s good side

I’m not saying sit in the front and always bring them an apple. Just make a good impression, don’t skip class, try your very hardest to hand in your papers on time and don’t show up late. This way, they will respect you, and will be more likely to help you understand the material better and give you a much-needed extension on that essay you just couldn’t finish on time.

8. Make friends

Keep your old friends but make an effort to make new ones as well: go to school social events and university fresher’s fairs. Join at least one new club that matches your interests and will bring you in contact with like-minded people. You should also try to find a study buddy and make older friends so they can give you the low-down on teachers, classes and everything in between – their insider/been-there-done-that knowledge will prove invaluable! Friends, as we said before, are what make the school and uni experience so special, so make sure you don’t miss out!

9. Don’t bust your budget

You’re still a student after all! So until you start working, make sure to not go crazy with snacks at the cafeteria or spending everything during weekend outings with friends. Make a budget and stick to it.

10. Reinvent yourself

This is the time for personal growth and learning about yourself – really becoming the awesome person you were always meant to be. Challenge yourself in as many ways you can and don’t give into peer pressure. People will respect you more if you stay true to yourself.

Just remember that your time at school or university really is the best time of your life; everyone can attest that no matter how much you say you hate it during your time there, you’ll always miss it when it’s over.

Here are 13 tips to help make going back to school easier:

It’s that time of year again. Time to swap swimmers for uniforms and send the kids back to school. Maybe you’re excited to get some time to yourself; maybe you’re dreading the early morning rush. However you might feel, it’s happening—so why not try to make things as easy as possible?

Whether your students are starting kindy or year 12, there are plenty of ways to help this school year be their best ever!

1. Start following bedtimes before the holidays end…

It’s time to say goodbye to late nights and morning lie ins. *sad face* The sooner you start enforcing school bed and wake times the better. Everyone’s body takes time to reset, so getting back into a normal bedtime routine can help the whole family. This also means skipping afternoon naps for kids who won’t be getting one in the classroom.

2. …And ban screens 1 hour before bed.

TV, laptops, smartphones, tablets and handheld video games all give off what’s known as blue light. This light tricks the brain into thinking it’s earlier than it really is, and usually makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Get your kids to turn off their screens at least 1 hour before bedtime. Read a book, quietly listen to music or take a relaxing bath to wind down instead. (This is good advice for parents, too!)

3. Visit a new school or classroom

A lot of kids and teens get “first day of school” nerves. Visiting a new school or exploring their current one could help. Practice walking from the entrance to their classroom. Find the nearest toilets and water fountains. Walk past the head office and library. Getting the lay of the land might give your students more confidence on day one.

4. Meet your child’s teachers…

If you can, get to know your kid’s teachers before the school year starts. It will be good for your student to recognise a friendly face on the first day. It also gives you a chance to learn a bit more about their teaching style and bring up any concerns you might have.

5. …And their new classmates!

Why not host a causal gettogether for the kids and grownups at the beginning of the school year? Use this time to organise a carpool, future playdates or make a new friend! If your kids have been at the same school for a while, it might be nice to reach out to new families who are just starting this year.

6. Do a supply stocktake.

Don’t head to the shops with that supply list just yet! You might be able to save money by doing some back-to-school shopping at home. Search the house for pens, pencils, and notebooks left over from last year. Items that are still in good nick—think backpacks, lunchboxes, pencil cases and binders—can also be reused. You might even be able to build a “new” set of crayons or coloured pencils by combining half-used boxes.

7. Organise a uniform swap day with other parents.

Remember that gettogether we mentioned in tip #5? That could also be a good time for parents to swap uniform bits and pieces that their kids have outgrown. Know any parents with kids who have changed or finished school? Ask them for any uniforms, hats, shoes or sports gear they won’t be needing anymore.

8. Practice with snaps, buttons, lids, zippers and more.

Before sending them to school, have your kids test their supplies. Zip up their backpack, open and close containers, fasten buttons and tie shoes. Maybe the lunch box you picked is too hard for little fingers to open and close, or your teen needs to practice their necktie skills. Best to find this out early, so you can get replacements or give the kids plenty of time to practice!

9. Practice the route to school…

Is your student walking, biking or catching the bus on their own for the first time? Don’t assume they know the way, even if they’ve gone to the same school for years. The neighbourhood can look different when you’re by yourself! Practice the way to school—and home—a few times before the school term starts.

10. And have a ‘plan b’ just in case.

Sometimes kids miss the bus, or lose their keys, or just feel unsafe on their way to and from school. Make a plan to deal with these unexpected events so they don’t take everyone by surprise. Have a family member on standby to drive them. Give a spare house key to the neighbour. Teach your kids how and when to call emergency services. They’ll hopefully never need it, but it’s always nice to have a plan b.

11. Set up a homework area before classes start.

Bad study habits can be hard to break. Get your students on the right track their first week back by creating a homework area. Pick a quiet spot away from distractions, and stock it with extra school supplies.

12. Stock the kitchen with healthy after school snacks.

You might have gotten lax with the rules over summer, but it’s probably time to swap crisps and biscuits for fruit and vege. Keep healthier snack options on hand for afternoon tea—whole fruits, carrot sticks and hummus, cheese and crackers. These are all excellent brain foods!

13. Prep as much as you can the night before.

No one likes rushing around in the morning. Do as much as you can in the evenings for a calmer morning routine. Make lunches after dinner, find misplaced items, pack backpacks and iron and lay out tomorrow’s clothes. Remember—the kids can help with a lot of this, too!

What about life insurance? If you have school-aged children, now might be the time to get covered.

About the author: Dollar Insurance is all about making insurance as painless as possible, so everyday Kiwis can make life cover and funeral cover a part of their plan.

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This post was sponsored by P&G as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back-to-school season is almost here! Are you ready? My kids start school in just two short weeks and we have so much to get done before then — school supply shopping, registration, back-to-school night, haircuts…the list goes on. It’s an exciting time of year but it can also be stressful and chaotic. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to make going back to school a little easier. Check out my tips below and then feel free to share yours in the comments!

5 Tips to Make Going Back to School Easier

1. Start Your Back-to-School Shopping Early – Waiting until the last minute to shop for school supplies is not only stressful, it can also cost you more money and you risk not being able to find certain items. Stores typically have the best deals 3-4 weeks before school starts, so keep an eye out for sales and then shop around to get the best deals.

2. Stock Up on Essentials at Costco – Costco has everything you need to make going back to school a breeze. Besides food, you can shop for school supplies, clothing, and P&G household needs products such as Bounty Advanced paper towels. Bounty Advanced is great for packing in school lunches and it’s also perfect for classrooms. It’s strong and absorbent and comes with a convenient select-a-size roll.

3. Plan Your Meals for the Week – Make a list of what you’ll need for snacks, lunches and easy family dinners for the first week (or two) of school and then head to the store. The start to school will be a lot less stressful if you aren’t trying to throw meals together last minute.

4. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule: A week before school starts, begin the transition to new bedtimes and wake times. Start by having your kids go to bed and wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal. After each day, adjust the time so that by the end of the week your kids are going to bed and waking up at the same they will need to once school starts.

5. Clean Your Home as a Family – It’s easy for cleaning to go to the wayside during the school year, especially if you are a working parent. Instead of spending a full day cleaning on your own, get your family involved. It will go by faster and it is way more fun! Give everyone 2-3 tasks (age appropriate, of course) and make it fun by turning on your favorite music or setting a timer to see how much you can get done in a certain amount of time. This not only teaches your kids responsibility, it also saves you time!

Some of my must-have cleaning items are Swiffer Dusters, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Bounty Advanced paper towels. It’s the little details in these products that make a big difference!

Swiffer Dusters are great for involving younger kids in the cleaning of your home. My kids think they are “magic” and love to wipe the surfaces around our home to see the dust disappear.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are one of the most amazing inventions ever. They are awesome at cleaning off crayon marks from tables and walls and they are the best at making my kitchen sink look white and new again.

Bounty Advanced paper towels are great for cleaning windows and mirrors, and when it comes to wiping up spills, they are simply the best.

You can find P&G household needs products at Costco. The great thing is they are affordable and they come in bigger sizes so they last longer!

What are some of your tips to make going back to school easier?

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.

10 Things To Do To Prepare For Back To School

Aug 08, 2018 • Back To School

It’s that time of year again: time to get ready for the back to school season!

It may only be August, but summer has a way of flying by. Before we know it, school bells to start a new year will be ringing.

To help get you started, we’ve created a list of the top 10 things to get your child (and you!) ready for smooth sailing on the first day of school.

10 Tips For Preparing For Back To School

  1. Start a morning schedule
  2. Wake your kids up at what will be their regular morning wake-up time. For older children, help them set an alarm clock so they can take responsibility for their own morning wake-up routine.

  3. Eat a healthy breakfast
  4. By now, we all know kids need a nutritious breakfast so they are ready to take on the day. Incorporate healthy breakfast options like apples, bananas, and whole grain toast. This will give them the energy they need to be mentally alert all day, instead of the mid-morning crash they’ll get from sugary cereals.

  5. Set out clothes the night before
  6. Avoid frantic mornings by having your child choose what he or she will wear the night before. If you have a younger child, let him or her pick from a couple different options. Get into a routine of doing this even before school starts so your child is in the habit of planning ahead.

  7. Pack a healthy lunch
  8. In the days or weeks before school starts, plan and make your lunches for the next day together each night. Even though school isn’t in session yet, you can help your kids get used to packing a lunch by having it labeled and ready to go each morning.

  9. Follow a lunch schedule
  10. Start eating lunch at the same time as your child will be when he or she is at school. This will help get your child’s stomach on a schedule so he or she isn’t going to class hungry and distracted.

  11. Make dedicated TV-free time
  12. Start getting into a homework routine now by having TV-free time during after-school hours. Use this time for a learning activity like reading a book or even talking about your day together.

  13. Play board or word games
  14. Playing games over the summer is a great way to keep you child’s mind engaged and focused on building learning skills. This will help make sure your child is prepared when classes start and make the back to school transition a smoother one.

  15. Stick to a bedtime routine
  16. Early bedtimes usually go out the window over the summer break, but young minds need plenty of sleep to be ready to learn. Get back into a set bedtime routine now so your child isn’t up late the night before the first day of school.

  17. Read every day
  18. Learning shouldn’t stop over the summer. Each day, take at least 30 minutes to sit with your child and read together. This will help keep him or her engaged with learning and in the routine of daily schoolwork.

  19. Stock up on school supplies
  20. Take your child shopping for back-to-school supplies he or she will need to get the year off to a successful start. Shopping for backpacks, binders, and pencil cases will get your child thinking (and excited) about the upcoming school year.

Need some extra help? Find a program for your child or contact a GradePower Learning location near you!

Video of The Day

There are a lot of factors that contribute to isphithiphiti (chaos) of preparing the kids to return to school in January.

While on holiday, people often develop new routines and adopt new habits, you may choose to relax with family, go out with friends, just sit and do nothing or entertain your hobbies.

When that happens, the body adapts to the new routine and getting rid of old habits or adjusting to new habits can be hard.

According to the founder of Knowledge for Men, Andrew Ferebee, adapting to new propensities is difficult because you could be attempting to do too much too soon and setting yourself up for failure.

Back-to-school is a hectic transition for both parents and kids more so for parents as they often take a hard knock on their budget. And this is usually because parents often stretch the budget during the festive season to include gifts, holidays, transport and Christmas clothes just to list a few. One of the best ways to plan your back to school budget is to write down everything children need before they return to class.

For an easy start in 2019, here are some of the tips parents can use to plan a proper budget for back-to-school and physically and mentally prepare children to go back to school to continue or start their schooling career.

ALSO READ: Three back to school lunchbox ideas

Financially

1. Firstly create a list of all the school supplies the kids need, after that, you can categorise the list in priority or remove what is already available.

2. Bring the kids along to shop, this will ensure that you buy the correct fit to save time and money as you can avoid spending on transport to return or change the clothes or shoes to the shop.

3. Compare prices, because it is the festive season and you want to have some extra money to spend on yourself, save money by comparing prices before you shop. To save time, check the prices and stock availability.

4. Wait for specials before you shop, pay attention to back to school specials before you start shopping.

5. Avoid temptations; a budget plan is only useful when you adhere to it. Whether you prefer to shop in January or prefer to get it out of the way as early as December, remember the purpose of the budget.

6. Do not forget to include school transport fee in your budget, while you wait for your first pay cheque of the year in January your kids still have to go to school

How to prepare children for school

1. Start a family book session, reading improves concentration. After chilled back holidays and hours spent on video games, you can start a family book season and take turns reading books to reduce the chance of children struggling to concentrate in class.

2. Return to normal sleeping hours. Start your usual school sleep routine about a week or so before school starts and wake them a bit early for a morning jog to make it easier for kids to re-adapt to early mornings.

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Back to school: Ways to prepare for the first day back

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Not everyone is heading back

And if all of this back-to-school talk stresses you out, remember, there will come a day when you don’t have to prepare for the first day back at school. Steve Peck worked as a teacher and principal for three decades and this Labour Day he isn’t worrying about if everything is set for the first day. On Tuesday, he plans to open his window at home and listen to the birds.

  • Read more: Back to school? Not me – I’m a newly retired principal who quit while I was ahead

A little fun

And if you want a good laugh there is this story. Last year Wency Leung spoke with five educators who shared their favourite stories of seizing students’ troublesome possessions.

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