With back to school season upon us, this is the time of year I get lots of inquiries from parents about their kids and organizing.
A reader recently emailed me this question:
Do you work with children? I have a friend who recently asked:
I was wondering if you help children learn how to be more organized. My daughter had an auditory delay which affects other aspects of her life, especially organization. I'm working on it and wondered if you had any suggestions.
I have a new found appreciation for what parents are going through getting ready for back to school! I went shopping the other day with a friend and her kids to get back to school supplies and was stunned at how picked over everything was already.
We were at Target and the store was packed with parents & kids and they were out of a lot of supplies. We had to go to Staples and eventually found everything we needed. But it was a challenge because the schools had given a VERY specific list of supplies to get including specific colors.
Don't wait till the last minute - get your supplies soon! : )
Some kids seem to instinctively know how to organize themselves to succeed in school. They are never late, always get their homework done on time, and can find anything they need in their backpack. Other kids need your guidance. Below are 4 ways you can help your child organize for success at school.
Provide organizing suggestions, but let your child make the final decisions on how to organize. The goal is to empower and enable them to maintain their new system, so they must be involved in the design and feel ownership. Being involved also helps them develop skills they can later apply to all areas of their lives.
Help your child make an inventory of all the activities and items that need to be organized. Here is an example inventory you can use as a starting point.
Tools such as calculators, etc.
Personal Supplies such as money, lunch, makeup etc.
Class notes & handouts (current & past)
Homework (to be done & completed)
School Announcements/Flyers/Permission Slips, etc.
Extra Curricular Activities supplies like gym shoes
Once you and child have created a list of the things she needs to organize, set up an integrated system that includes strategies for storing items she needs in her school locker, backpack, AND home study area. Based on what she needs to store you can create more space for storing things in her locker with a locker shelf or even a hanging basket. The trick is to have a plan for the organizing items before you buy them.
The backpack should be used only to transport items back and forth between home and school - NOT as storage. Every item in the backpack should have a home outside of the backpack. If home and school each have a place for your child to store things, then she can easily clean it out regularly and carry only what she really needs for a given day!
This is one of the coolest ways to organize kids artwork I've ever seen. Jen Chaky from here in Montclair, NJ takes 30 of your child's very best art pieces and turns them into an actual hardcover coffee table book!
Jen says that this endeavor was born out of her love for organizing and clearing clutter combined with her passion for children's books. She actually works in children's book publishing and started this business in hopes of eventually being able to stay at home to raise her 8-year-old daughter.
At $250 for 2 books, and $300 for 3 books(additional copies are $50 each) the service is not cheap, but the books are gorgeous and will last a lifetime. And you can give copies as gifts to relatives.
I think this would be a great gift for artists of any age and anyone that writes poetry or songs as well! I wouldn't even mind having some of my best photos made into a book like this! There are several styles to choose from as you can see in the photos above.
Check out Jen's extremely creative site to see a really cool flash animation of an actual book! If you call or write her for more info, tell her I said hello!
Many years ago I had a dream to create a non-profit organization to provide educational resources to families to help keep kids safe and prevent child abuse. Well I didn't go that route (though I do try to educate families via this blog) so the next best thing I can do is tell you about this brilliant resource created by a retired cop who was the Sexual Predator Coordinator for Broward County, FL. He has created an AWESOME Squidoo lens providing links to many FREE resources to educate parents and help parents educate their kids. It was created in support of the Polly Klaas Foundation which is "Dedicated to the Safety of All Children."
This beautiful Art Cabinet from Alsto's is a fantastic find!
This art cabinet instantly displays your child’s artwork or whatever you want to display. It holds up to 50 pages in one slim frame so it serves as an archive too.
Just lift the latch, open the door, and insert your pages. Close the glass-front door, and your artwork or photos are elegantly displayed, while the older pages are stored behind it.
Comes in a couple sizes: 8 1/2”x11” or 12”x18”
This is the easiest and best looking way yet that I've seen to preserve your children’s art. You can use it at home or in the office. It can also be used to display your goals, affirmations, project schedules, or anything you want to protect and display. Wouldn't this be a great gift for a new mom?
Researchers at the University of Oslo who studied the soda-drinking habits of more than 5,000 10th-grade Norwegian students aged 15 to 16.
Just listen to this conclusion, which comes as no suprise to me:
"High consumption levels of sugar-containing softdrinks were associated with mental health problems among adolescentseven after adjustment for possible confounders," wrote Dr. Lars Lien and his colleagues.
Now listen to this important point they made: "The effects of sugar consumption on mental health..."
I've seen the article in the October 2006 issue of Psychology Today ! It's an interesting take on folks who are obsessively neat. And no, I'm NOT one of them! I do like order and neatness, but I'm not obsessed with perfection. My use of the term neat is meant to be more as in "neat ideas."
I was less happy to see that one of my answers to Carla's questions was taken a bit out of context and doesn't quite represent my advice accurately. For example, the sidebar starts out with this:
"Get rid of half your stuff says Ariane Benefit, professional organizer...."
For the record, I NEVER tell people to get rid of half their stuff.
I kinda cringed when I read that. What I said was that with some clients with extreme clutter we have had to get rid of half their stuff in order to get them organized. She asked if that was common and I said that many people could live without halftheir stuff and still be fine.
I feel like that's a big difference, what do you think? Do you think I was quoted accurately?
My website address www.neatandsimple.com was given as my blog address, but that's okay people can still find my blog.
They also published one of the many tips I gave which really works! If your drawers are overstuffed, one way to get back nearly half the space in your drawer is to roll your clothing instead of laying them flat in the drawers. This is one my clients FAVORITE tips. They go and do this to every drawer they have!
So I thought I'd share a before and after picture to show you how this works.
Here is a kids pants drawer where the pants are folded once and laid on top of each other: (Click images to see them larger)
Here is the AFTER shot. We folded each pair of pants one more time and lined them up vertically. We also sorted by pant length and color. Now Mom can see exactly what clothing her son has at a glance and it's super easy to put things away and get them out. This took less than 2 minutes to do! It worked out so well, we were able to put shirts in the drawer too! We freed up so much space that we combined 2 drawers into one, Mom could pick out an outfit by opening just one drawer, and we were able to take a lot of things out of the closet that didn't really need to be hung making her laundry chores easier!
Blog tipping is when you "tip" people to a great blog!
Kim writes a wonderfully thoughtful and spiritual blog called Starry Sky Ranch covering many topics from homeschooling to healthy living to simplifying.
The blog post that introduced me to Kim was this wonderful essay on the irony of how complicated it can be to live simply. As a mom who homeschools 8 kids, she really knows what she's talking about!
Living a simple uncluttered life in today's world is a constant battle to keep impulses under control and keep values clear. There are temptations everywhere you turn. Let's face it, as human beings our instincts are to gather and acquire. It was for survival in the past...and now we have created a society that is centered around exploiting this instinct for profit. (aka rampant consumerism)
We love novelty, and boy have we exploited that! I'm so guilty of it myself...I want that new Docupen...and I want that shower rod that bows out. I hear of the latest cool new thing and my instinct is often - I want that! It's a constant battle to try to only actually get those things I really need. I have to constantly monitor my own impulse to gather stuff and to hang on to it! I actually cried the other day when let go of a last box of clothing I was keeping for sentimental reasons. I'm glad it's gone now...but it wasn't easy!!
Now imagine trying to achieve simplicity having 8 children who are susceptible to the same influence? This remarkable woman has changed careers, changed locations (moved to a working ranch!) and homeschools her kids! And it's still not easy!
Here are some excerpts from Kim's post on Simple Living that I really loved - the bolding is added by me....or you can read the whole thing at Simplifying.
..."In our quest for saner living we take any number of steps that feel most right to us such as eating more naturally, homeschooling, making what we need, and doing without. What comes next is often bewildering. We no longer are running to the store for milk and eggs, but instead we are called to the barn twice a day or more to attend to our livestock.Instead of running children to school and back, we are now creating personalized learning programs and checking math problems daily. Instead of spending our hard-earned cash at the box store we are spending our time sewing, cooking, and so on. Bottom line, they say - simplicity can be 'complicated and exhausting'."
"The flip side is that the energy expended in simplifying is often more satisfying than the time savers we have been told will enhance our quality of life. It is the process of taking care of ourselves and others that is as important as the care items themselves."
..."Many of us assume that in order to organize we need more stuff - crates, storage systems, new homes, new wardrobes, new careers. I have been known to fall into that rut, paralyzed with the *stuff* I have collected and the lifestyle we had created and unsure of how to begin the climb out. Buying more stuff makes you feel as though you are making some progress. We are accustomed to initiating change with purchase. A better step, says the book, is to take inventory of your life and your home and determine which parts of same are contributing to your overall happiness and which are dragging you down.Then begin to cull the latter - ruthlessly. You may eventually be led to make some of those other changes - in location, in vocation - but you will be in a better position to do so at that point." ...
Her point here is absolutely true. I had to be ruthless in order to get what I want...a space with great energy that I can function in and be focused on my goals and not have to spend my time dealing with stuff I don't ever use in my way all the time!
When I went to college, I was dirt poor! I had to take student loans and had to stretch that money every way I could. One way I did that was by buying used text books. It saved me a fortune! But there were always some books I couldn't find used in our one and only used book store at the University of Miami. (That was in the 80's)
Now, thanks to the power of the internet, you can access the national market on used textbooks!
Here's a coupon link to get up to 90% off on used textbooks at Amazon.
You can also get 20% off on new textbooks!
Sarah, a reader wrote to let me know about another brand new resource for saving money on textbooks. www.ichapters.com is a textbook site that sells books electronically and also sells individual chapters. I had many classes that only required reading certain chapters of a book. Wish this was available then! Not only is it less expensive, but it's a lot lighter to carry around a printed chapter or an ebook than the textbook itself!
Where do you save your kid's artwork? I've seen it behind furniture, under furniture, tucked in dusty corners, anywhere but in a safe place. It's usually rather mangled and just waiting to be completely destroyed so it can be thrown out without guilt.
But not anymore! All me to introduce you to the Schoolfolio!
They have four really cool designs that make organizing kids' art and schoolwork easy and fun!
It's Large: Holds 24" x 18" paper with 3.5" capacity. And it comes in an even larger width for the really big projects.
It's Portable: Great for transporting to and from school.
It's Tough: Case is heavy-gauge polyethylene, which resists tearing and cracking.
It's Acid-free too! It has a 5" x 7" photo pocket in the from and opens flat for easy access.
It may be designed for kids, but I think it would be fun for carrying out my posters that I use when leading workshops! I'll just put my logo or something in where the picture is! : )
This is really neat! You will love it as much as the kids do! The bars are flexible so the kids can easily get things in and out by themselves! A really genious solution! Click the closeup picture to see an animated demo!
Here's an excerpt from the Globe Article that will really make you think about the damage junk food and sugar are doing to our health.
"TYPE 2 DIABETES is sweeping so rapidly through America we need not
waste time giving children bicycles. Just roll them a wheelchair.
Forget the basketballs and baseballs. Give them Braille flash cards.
The next thing you know, iPods, Game Boys and Xboxes will come with
glucose meters, beeping 'Sorry to interrupt your song or movie, but it
will not continue until you use me.'"
Corporations will eventually have to realize that in addition to making money, they are citizens of this country and world. As citizens, they must be responsible to a higher value system that just making money. If they don't start to really get it soon, then social responsibility will have be legislated. They know very well that the sugar and chemicals in our food is killing us slowly and are primary factors in chronic inflammation, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and more. But they make so much money on it that they can't seem stop themselves from continuing to sell the junk! They need external pressure to quit. Just like the cigarette manufacturers needed it to stop advertising to kids. Heck half the reason I quit smoking was because of all the grief I got for it. They are as addicted to the money as we are to the sugar & hydrogenated oils in the junk food they sell!
They can say "parents have the right not to buy it" "parents have to control their kids" and that's true. But then, they MUST stop actively and purposefully UNDERMINING PARENTS through their deceptive and manipulative marketing. Conversely, we need to stop using sugar as a reward for every good thing we do, or to celebrate. Why must sugary cakes be at every birthday? I don't know...I suppose sugar is no different from all drugs that make us feel good when we ingest them...and then later we pay the price.
Anyway, it's great to see a newspaper taking on big companies even though they put their advertising dollars at risk. Not many news outlets are prepared to do that.
I haven't totally quit sugar yet - but I have dramatically reduced it. The
hardest part for me is giving up my morning coffee. I used to use 3-4 sugars
in a 15 oz mug. And sometimes I'd have 2 or 3 mugs!!! Thanks to Connie &
Nancy Appleton's suggestion, this morning I used only one sugar in a
much smaller 7 oz cup and it was tolerable. After a week of 1 tsp, I'm
going to go to half tsp for a week then 0. If I can do that....I can
do anything!!!! I really loved my morning coffee - just like I used to
love cigarettes...but I quit them..and I'll quit this, too!
If your child needs a computer desk, or a table and chair set, or a moveable platform for building train sets, check this site out. It also has lots of educational toys. It even has Judaic and Christmas related toys!