Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to School ~ The Organized Way; Guest Post By Tiia Jones

Does Back to School time fill you with dread as you anticipate scrambling to put everything together at the last minute for your children? Lists of school supplies, teachers’ special requests, and eleventh hour purchases are enough to make every mother stressed out. These simple organizational tips from an educational expert will solve your Back to School worries and leave you time—and money—to spare! Tiia Jones is a teacher with a PhD in education and over 20 years experience.

image located on Google Images

1. Start with good backpacks and get them early

It’s easy to think that the cute, princess backpack might be the best choice for your daughter—especially because it is not too costly. However, your best bet is to spend more money on this important purchase and cut costs elsewhere. Teachers tell us that backpacks take a great deal of abuse. Unless you want to be replacing it before Christmas, get a name brand that will last. I like for their durability.

Once you have a good backpack for each child, clearly label it and place it in a central location so that school supplies can be dropped into it as they are purchased.

2. Skip the pencil boxes and go for something more durable

The traditional pencil boxes frequently break within the first few weeks of school, and this is how many precious school supplies are lost. A better way to go is to get something that holds up better. We like the 1.8 gallon Rubbermaid Snap Case Clear Storage Container (available at ShopWiki $5.15) because it’s easy for little fingers to open. You can also go to the Rubbermaid site at for a huge selection of great storage containers. If the kids don’t like how plain it is, try decorating with puffy pens or stickers to make it original.

3. Begin shopping now and pay attention to sales

Many schools post school supply lists online or at the school sites. Call the school to find out the best way to get the list for each child’s individual teacher. Then, find out if your area has any “tax-free” days which will save significantly especially on big ticket items. Watch newspapers for great deals. Many big stores will offer terrific savings on notebook paper, crayons, pencils, markers, and other popular school supplies. A survey of major brands found that using sales on commonly-purchased items could save as much as 92%.

Drop the relevant supplies into each child’s backpack as you purchase them and mark them off of the lists. Keep the lists in your purse or organizer so that you have them whenever you might see a good sale.

Teacher’s Tip: Often, a teacher will require specific school supplies that differ from the items on the grade-level list. Teachers almost always have these lists weeks or even months ahead of time and would be more than happy to share them with parents. If you know the name of your child’s teacher, try asking the school for their email address. Then you can rest knowing that you have purchased the appropriate supplies!

4. Label everything and we do mean everything

Often, parents label the backpack, the pencil box, and maybe the crayon box. However, as a teacher, I am here to tell you that these things don’t stay put together for long! We know it takes some time, but spend a night of television and take an extra thin permanent Sharpie marker and label every crayon, pencil, marker, notebook, and colored pencil with your child’s name. Your child’s teacher—and your pocketbook—will thank you.

5. A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to Back to School organizing

Once all of the supplies are purchased for each child, spread each child’s supplies out on the table one at a time and take a digital photo before packing them up. This way, there is a record of what was purchased. It saves hassles down the road with trying to remember who had what and also helps your child to know how much of everything was provided.

Print the pictures and create a Back to School file with the pictures and the completed supply lists.

Teacher’s Tip: To help your child with the morning getting ready routine, also take a picture of what should be in his or her school box and backpack each morning (for example: two pencils, one notebook, calculator, pen, lunchbox, etc.) . Print it out and place it in the area where he/she arranges these belongings. This will create greater self-sufficiency in the mornings.

States that offer a tax free weekend (courtesy of )

New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington D.C.
West Virginia


Dual Mom said...

No no no no nooooooooooooooo not back to school. It means having to be organized and punctual and on top of things. NOOOOO

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for having me on here today! What a wonderful treat. I love your blog!

Tamara Dawn said...

Dual Mom is nuts

I am SOOOO EXCITED about Back to School! YIPPEEEEEEEEE!!

This is all very helpful...except the fact that Wisconsin isnt giving me a tax break - damn Wisco - they milk you for every cent! Get it...milk? bwahaha

Ed said...

My kids hated shopping for school supplies. Liz was all excited to take them, and was ready to kill them before they finished. She ended up doing most of it herself while they bitched.

Alicia said...

all such awesome tips!! my babies start next week, WOOOOOO! and i love jansport backpacks...they really are awesome!

Unknown said...

Yes!!! Today was back to school for us!!! I think using the rubbermaid instead of a pencil box is awesome. They hold more and our very durable. Since I have to girls in elementary I get two, and write their names on them with puffy paint!!

The Single Mothers Chronicles said...

OMG - that was so helpful! Will post as a link on my Single Mothers Chronicles FB page!


Kate said...

I noticed today at one of the local Walgreens in Illinois, yep, the state of high taxes, bankrupt government and lying, cheating, parasitic governors, is offering a Tax Holiday as well.

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