Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Parents: Get Organized for a Great School Year!

             I suspect that you have already attended or are about to attend a school orientation for your child for this year. Kindergarten, middle school, and high school entry grades all require an orientation at least one week before the official start of school. Your expectations for such an event may include seeing where your child will be spending their days away from you, meeting their teacher(s), seeing the cafeteria, the gym, and lockers if they’re going into middle or high school. You will get more than you expected.
            Each teacher may give you a collection of papers that they want you to review and keep and refer to during the school year. This often includes a syllabus, a list of school supplies, their teaching philosophy, their discipline policy, their grading policy, and other assorted pieces of information they’ve deemed critical to a great school year with your child. What will you do with all this paperwork?
            Even though much of our communication is electronic, papers are still a big part of school. Your child will continue to bring home announcements, permission slips, newsletters, requests for money, project outlines and more. There will be programs from events, awards, receipts from buying their yearbook, their schedule, discipline notices, conference forms, and more to maintain. It is your job to maintain these piles in a way that they can be easily retrieved when needed.
Since my children began school, I maintained a three-ring binder for this very purpose. I had dividers that separated each child’s papers. At the end of each school year I transfer all these papers into a manila envelope and label it by school year and child. I reuse the binder every year. Everything goes in there. Every form, every note, every receipt is three-hole punched and placed in the binder. It is located in a central location so that anyone in our house can find it if need be. This way when my son orders his yearbook in October, brings home the receipt (which he will need in May to prove he purchased it), we three-hole punch it, put in the binder behind his tab and forget about it. In May when he says, “Mom I need my receipt so I can pick up my yearbook” we just open the binder and grab it.
You can expand the use of this precious binder by putting in plastic sleeves to store bulky or odd sized materials. Awards, varsity letters, medals, CD’s, or other media fit nicely this way. The idea is to keep everything in one place and where you can find it. Just place things in the moment you receive them and you will notice that the most recent is the first page. It will naturally be organized in chronological order. This method has saved us so many times. I strongly suggest that you make a copy of anything your child brings home that you have to sign and return. This way you have a record that you did indeed sign and return it. As you know, things somehow get lost between home and school.
Once in the binder you can refer to these papers at your leisure. Make sure you’ve signed and returned anything that is time sensitive; your children are on the hook for it if you don’t. They can’t control your sense of organization; don’t make them have to suffer the consequences of your disorganization. It makes them feel “less than” and “left out” if they are one of the ones whose parents didn’t return a permission slip or other required paper. Getting and staying organized will make for a smoother year for you and your child this school year. Try out the binder system this year. Let me know how it goes!