Good communication is important at any time of year, but if you start off a new school year with a communication system you can count on, you’ll feel in control from start to finish. Here are some tips to help keep kids, family members, caregivers and school staff on the same page.
1. The calendar
Nothing beats having a master schedule that everyone in the family can refer to. Choose a calendar with squares large enough to include details for appointments, events, and birthdays. Be sure to keep it up to date. If you have room, consider my favourite use for a calendar—a place to write down the funny things kids say. Create your own calendar using family photos and you’ll not only have a planner, you’ll have a keepsake record of how you spent the year.
Read more: Confessions of a disorganized mom>
2. The bulletin board
I see bulletin boards in many homes layered deep with invitations for parties long gone by, advertisements from local restaurants, kids’ artwork, photographs, gift certificates, phone numbers on scraps of paper and more. Bulletin boards are wonderful tools but to keep them effective, you have to keep them uncluttered. Ideally, store temporary items you will benefit from seeing such as party invitations, coupons with expiry dates, cleaning and repair receipts. When an event is over, the invitation goes into a scrapbook or into the recycling bin. If space allows, you can add some inspirational pieces but be careful not to compromise the functionality of your board.
Read more: Retrain your brain for better organization>
3. The log book
Keep a notebook handy to capture details during phone conversations for school or household matters, especially if your memory is as good as mine! If you ever need to recall the nitty-gritty of a conversation, there will be one place to look. It’s also a great place to write information to be shared with family members. We’ve always planned birthday parties in it—writing the names of the attendees, menu planning, setting the agenda, and choosing a theme.
Read more: How to teach your child time management>
4. The inbox
There is always a lot of paperwork in the first week of school, but it continues throughout the year. Who needs the frustration of wondering where a form went right before it’s due? Teach kids to place any forms for parental attention in a specific place. Mount an inbox to the wall or if you’ve got a clear surface, add a tray just for kids’ paperwork. Even better, have your kids complete as much of the forms as they can for themselves. It’s a great way to have them memorize your address and key phone numbers and practice penmanship, plus it will lighten your load.
5. The reference binder
Keep information you wish to refer to regularly in a binder with dividers—effectively creating your own reference book. Choose a durable finish so it will stand up to family use. Include such things as school and emergency contacts, activity schedules, city service information, restaurant menus, information for caregivers, home and garden maintenance and a vacation checklist.
Read more: How to help kids keep track of their stuff>
6. The stationery kit
You know you’re going to have to send a note to your child’s teacher a few times a year. Print a few copies of notepaper with the teacher’s name and your contact information to make it easier to complete in the case of an inevitable last minute rush. If you have recurring appointments, you might even add checkboxes to tick off.
Read more: How to get the teacher you want>
7. The school work stash
If you’re like me, you like to return kids’ space into adult space at the end of the day. But, what if they’ve left schoolwork out in a half-finished state and that’s where you need to serve breakfast? Set up a magazine holder for each child to keep their school work and reference material. Anything left out in mid-process has only one place to go. Magazine holders are also perfect for storing extra paper and activity books.
With a little effort, you can have a reliable communication system to serve you for the school year and beyond. Go ahead—pay you and your family forward. You’ll be happy you did.