Back-to-school: Getting organized 101

Back to school is here and now is a good time to work with your kids to prepare for the rest of the school year.

My son is changing schools and about to embark on new territory – having his own locker.  Moving up from a hook in a classroom cubby to a 9” wide secure command centre from which to pilot his entire day is going to be quite a transition.

At the school orientation, the vice-principal warned the kids they will have only five minutes within which to – hang coats, change footwear, unpack backpacks, if necessary go to the bathroom, and collect what they need for the next four consecutive classes.   The kids also have to keep track of a ten day rotating schedule.  You can see how important it will be to be for kids to be organized – to effectively manage both space and time.

So, as you can imagine, as a mom who organizes for a living, I dove right into this organizing challenge, to try and head off some of the inevitable stress.

Here are four steps to take towards a smooth start:

Get comfortable with your combination lock

The five minutes allocated to prepare for the morning does not allow for three tries to open a lock.  Use a school approved combination lock for maximum security.

Print the schedule

As soon as you get the class schedule, create three copies. One for the locker door, one to place in a planner your child will carry with them, and one for the bedroom – to help decide which clothes should be worn or packed that day.

Organize the locker

Just as with any space, divide it to separate what you are storing, making it easier to find items and to take better care of them.  Add in-locker shelving to create different levels. For example, store wet boots on the bottom and binders above.  You can also add locker sized organizing boxes to contain smaller items like hats, mitts and headphones. Where were these when I was going to school?

Personalize it

There are lots of ways your child can style their space with colourful magnets, wipe off boards and more to make sure they keep their days on track.

If you notice your child struggling to keep on top of things in September, invest some time in understanding what they have to manage and help them build organizing systems they can rely on.


Clare Kumar is the founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company. Clare works with business owners and employees to drive greater productivity and peace of mind through better organization at work and at home. An industry expert, Clare also creates new products to help people remove the ‘bumps’ from their day. If there’s something you do every day that’s slowing you down, she wants to hear from you.

By Adam

September 06, 2012