It is officially back to school season! The start of the school year means everyone gets to take part in the joy of learning; however, it also means a slew of extra responsibilities are on the horizon, depending on your role: juggling schedules, packing lunches, balancing extracurricular activities, overseeing homework, grading papers, writing lesson plans, studying for exams…the list goes on! During this busy time, it is important to set yourself up for success. This can be achieved through thoughtful organization. Here are five back to school organizational tips that can be used by students, parents, and teachers alike to help you feel ready to take on the new academic year!
1. Archive Last Year’s Materials
Out with the old, and in with the new! Although you may feel tempted to use every page of your old notebooks, starting fresh will help you keep your new school materials in one place. One benefit of organization is knowing where everything is at all times. To accomplish this, gather and archive last year’s materials and purchase fresh ones to start anew. Label the notebooks, binders, and computer files that you wish to keep from last year. You can invest in a handheld label maker or use post-it notes, stickers, or tape to mark them. Then, store old materials on a shelf and/or flash drive to keep them accessible but out of the way.
Tip: Keep your labels consistent. You can use “SY2021,” “X Grade,” or “2020-2021” to label any folders or binders from the previous school year.
2. Invest in an Academic Planner
Did you know that not all planners are tied to the ‘January through December’ calendar year? You also have the option of purchasing a paper or digital planner that is based on the academic year. Academic planners start in July or August and end the summer of the following year so an entire school year can be planned in one book. This type of planner is perfect for students, teachers, or parents with school-aged children to stay organized.
Tip: Not a pen and paper person? Digital planners can be downloaded straight to a tablet or laptop for little to no cost.
3. Add Important Dates to a Yearly Calendar
Before the school year begins, add all important school dates and holidays to your planner or calendar. Schools usually will provide a ‘year at a glance’ calendar that includes all major school dates to families over the summer or during the first week of school. To ensure these dates do not sneak up on you or pass you by, write them all down (even if they are months away). Not only will this help you better commit the dates to memory, but you will also be glad that you don’t need to go back each month to add them later.
Tip: After adding important school dates to the calendar, take time to pencil in any other family vacations, doctor’s appointments, etc. that are coming up. The more dates that are frontloaded, the better.
4. Develop a Color-Coding System
If you are a student with various courses (or a parent with multiple school-aged children) adopting a color-coding system to distinguish school materials from one another may be a good organizational tool for you. You could also incorporate this tip with tips 1-3. For example, a student with four courses could use blue for social sciences, green for math, red for reading/ELA, and orange for art courses in their system. This student could use these same colors to create labels when archiving last year’s school materials or when highlighting course assignments and important dates on his or her calendar and academic planner. It all ties together and makes everything easy to track.
Tip: Teachers with multiple sections or student groups can also use color coding in their classroom to keep assignments and handouts organized throughout the school year.
5. Set Up your Ideal Week
Finally, mapping out your ideal week is another tip that can be used to stay organized during back-to-school season. For middle school, high school, and college students and teachers, this should be updated semesterly as course schedules change. Student athletes can also make updates as their sport seasons begin and end.
So, how do you map out an ideal week? Use an undated, hourly, weekly schedule. Block out class times, work hours, practices, and any other regular, recurring meetings or appointments. This is also a great opportunity to block out study time for courses, homework time, and even weekly planning time.
Once complete, this visualization tool allows students, teachers, and parents to better prioritize and plan their time when additional or unexpected projects, events, or tasks need to be added to their schedule.
Tip: For families with multiple school-aged children, empower your students to complete their own weekly schedule. Completing this task instills valuable time management skills.
There you have it! Five easy tips to help you tackle back to school season. For more organizational tips and tricks, follow @cristalvictoria on Instagram or cristalvictoria.com.