With twin boys in kindergarten and a teen boy in high school, sometimes I feel like I’m bouncing between two different worlds, and well, basically I am. Between required school forms, homework, projects and after-school activities, there is always a lot going on. Organization is key to helping our household run smoothly, and I’m happy to share tips on how I balance all things school with multiple children in the house.
- Create a dedicated work space for each student (or by grade level). No matter the size of a home, a space that is set aside for homework can be designed for each child or by grade level (if you have twins or more than one in the same grade). In small spaces, a simple nook area can be created with just the essentials (e.g., a small desk or table). Having built-in or portable drawers that fit underneath a table or desk is helpful for easy access to school supplies and folders. A corkboard or whiteboard can be mounted on the wall over the desk or table so important documents (class schedules or project due dates) can be seen by all. For larger areas, a fully multipurpose, office-type environment equipped with computers, printers and tech devices (tablets) is helpful. Larger desks, such as the “tech desks” that have two seating areas as part of one desk, can help to seat more than one student in individual sections located on the desk.
- Color-coordinate each student’s information. Trying to keep up with important information, paperwork and homework while having students in the same school but different grades, or having students who are each in different schools, can be overwhelming. A tip is to color-coordinate the school information for each student. For example, my identical twins will be entering kindergarten this upcoming school year, and they are in different classes that are located next door to each other. To help ease any possible confusion, each twin will have his schoolwork located in bins or folders with a color assigned to each of them. My high schooler will have a color-assigned large bin with drawers to help reinforce organizational skills, which are important in the years ahead to help prepare for college.
- Minimize distractions. While your kids concentrate on homework, technology should be limited to only school-related work. Televisions shows, app games, loud music and social media use (texting or chatting with friends online) can cause distraction during study time. Parents should try to monitor students while they are doing schoolwork online to ensure that noneducational sites are not being used. Try turning off television, tablets and online music during homework time.
- Keep a family calendar. To help maintain everyone’s schedules, make a daily calendar with everyday events and obligations, such as time to get up, taking the kids to school, pickup and drop-off at after school events and meal time, especially if the family is not eating together because of after-school activities. Post the family calendar (either a daily or weekly view) in a high-traffic area in the home.
Even with these organization tips, the chaos may endure, but hopefully in a less stressful way. An organized routine will help keep the entire household, from kindergarteners to high schoolers, on the same page, keeping the craziness to a minimum.