Julie Cole

Tips:

Set up routines kids will stick to
The key is to help your kids become independent so even though it's easier to do everything for them - packing their bags, choosing their clothes and so on - you really want to encourage them to think for themselves as much as possible. A great way to do this is to go over expectations and routines very clearly then set up a checklist with visual cues for pre-readers and stickers to check off tasks completed. If you have more than one kid, the peer pressure to get more stickers than their siblings will keep them on track.

Organization starts with you

Use Household Labels or Sticky Labels to identify a "cubby", shelf or storage bin at home for each kid to help them organize their school and lunch gear. If you have designated spots for everything, including shoes and jackets, sports bags and so on, there should be no more nagging about stuff lying in the way or, worse, getting lost. Break homework into small, manageable chunks and set up a designated time and place for it. At my house, each kid stops by their cubby for their school agendas and work at 4 p.m. and head to the homework room. Creating the right environment away from distractions and with whatever supplies they'll need at hand, helps get work completed faster and with fewer errors.

Streamline lunch-packing
Morning chaos can be prevented by tackling tasks we know we'll have to face every day, ahead of time. Freeze sandwiches of cooked meats or cheese on the weekend for use the next week. Do this with leftovers, casseroles and soups too for ready-to-go, nutritious meals. Don't waste time and money shopping for juice boxes. Water is probably the best drink for kids at school since juice can fill them up and add unneeded sugars to their diet (and teeth). It's also easier on the environment than the hundreds of little juice boxes you'd use in a year. Milk is also good and if your school doesn't have a milk program, send your own in a reusable drink container, popped in the freezer for awhile to chill. If your kids have allergies, use Allergy Alerts labels on their reusable lunch containers to alert caregivers to their needs.

Save Money and Time by Planning Ahead
Shop off-season to save money and headaches by avoiding the last-minute rush of shoppers. Clear out closets and assess what can stay and what can be handed down, donated or recycled. A clear idea of what kids actually need rather than want will help keep back-to-school shopping on budget. Label all clothes and supplies with waterproof labels to keep stuff out of the lost and found! The investment pays for itself in no time and there are labels for practically everything, from clothes, shoes and bags to swimming goggles and lunch gear.

Outsource Homework
Sometimes parents aren't the best ones to help with homework since we're often too emotionally attached and things can get heated. I pay a high school student to come by every school night to oversee their homework and my kids truly enjoy their time with the smart, cool teen. Homework becomes a positive experience rather than a stress-filled battleground.

With the right support, routine, tools and environment, every kid will be well on the way to learning to the best of their abilities.

Mabel's Labels, Inc.
RPO Dundurn, PO Box 33561
Hamilton, ON L8P 4X4

www.mabelslabels.com