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Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organized

Get ready for back-to-school with these tips—and cool organizational tools—from professional organizer Clare Kumar.

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organized

back-to-school-tools

Get organized for school!

Banish the back-to-school blues with these handy tips and tricks. Using a variety of organizational tools, like clock timers, day planners and labels, conquer any obstacle while teaching your kids responsibility. 

Read more: Controlling the chaos: Tips to a clutter-free home>

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: iStockphoto

Day Ja View calendar

Since time is abstract, a monthly planner is the most helpful way to keep your current week (and what’s coming up) in plain sight to avoid nasty surprises. 

Anyone who has filled out weekly appointments for a nine-month season of hockey or dance classes knows how tedious it can be. Enter Day Ja View, a clever name for a clever calendar that makes noting recurring appointments a breeze. Simply write the activity down once on a sticker and apply it to a clear window you overlay on the current month. Adjust as necessary by writing a new appointment on a sticker and placing it over the initial appointment. For non-recurring activities, write directly on the calendar. Day Ja View is a simple, smart, time-saving tool from Toronto mom, Sharon Neiss and Time of Day.

Day Ja View calendar, $27, timeofdaycalendar.com 

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Day Ja View® Calendar

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Academic planner

Professional organizer and mom Leslie Josel created the Academic Planner as a tool to teach time management to middle and high school students. The planner is unique in that in addition to including a daily space to jot down to-dos per subject, it includes an area specifically devoted to after-school hours, the time kids actually need to think about scheduling. On Sunday evenings, I recommend having kids (and grown-ups!) get in the habit of planning their upcoming week and scanning their next. Create these routines early and kids will benefit from them their entire lives.

The Academic Planner—A Tool for Time Management, $19, orderoochaos.com

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: orderoochaos.com

Organization chart

I consider part of my job as a mom to raise independent kids who can take pride in caring for themselves. Big bonus: It also helps me take things of my mental checklist. Getting kids ready each morning and out the door is easier if kids have an easy-to-follow road map. Easy Daysies, created by mompreneur and teacher Elaine Tan Comeau, are magnetic images that provide visual cues for routines such as getting ready in the morning, their school routine or going to bed. Kids move magnets from the “To Do” side of the board to the “Done” side as they check things off their lists and gain a sense of accomplishment. Things get done. Kids feel good. Parents can be mighty proud.

Every Day Starter Kit, $26, easydaysies.com

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Easy Daysies

Clothing management

Do your kids struggle to get dressed in the morning? If you’ve got a young one who knows what she wants to wear but is always searching for a missing outfit in a jumbled dresser drawer, avoid morning frustrations with this easy-to-use clothing management system. The Pliio Clothing Filer makes it easy for kids to fold their own clothes, and even better, it keeps them organized. Garments are folded around the folding tool which remains inside the item, making it much easier to manage—a bit like holding onto a book instead of a piece of paper. 

Full disclosure: I co-created this product while working as a professional organizer with grown-ups who had trouble folding and keeping their folded clothes organized. Great news for parents! I soon discovered kids love it as well.

Pliio clothing flier, $20, bedbathandbeyond.ca

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Pliio

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Mabel's Labels

Getting kids out the door is half the job. Getting everything back in is another feat all on its own. I walked by the lost and found at my kids’ school numerous times to see the bin overflowing. I noticed that kids and parents who were brave enough to dip into the bin would help return belongings that were labelled with their friends’ names. 

To make labelling quick and easy to do, invest in custom printed labels from Canadian mompreneur-founded Mabel’s Labels. Use adhesive labels for clothing, lunch boxes and school supplies, and tag backpacks and keys with custom bag tags. They also offer fundraising opportunities for schools, camps, hockey teams and more.

Mabel's Labels, prices vary, mabelslabels.com

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Mabel's Labels

Time tracker

Staying focused is a constant struggle in our culture of distraction and—dare I say with homework—disinterest. Timers have long been used to measure or countdown time; but professional organizers know they work wonders to help maintain focus and add motivation (to beat the clock) when completing mundane tasks. 

What’s special about The Time Timer? It couldn’t be easier to use—simply turn the red dial with your finger tip to set the countdown time. It also makes tracking the passing of time very clear: You can’t miss seeing the red colour wheel disappear. The Time Timer was created by yet another mompreneur, Jan Rogers, as she tried to teach her daughter “how much time was left." It is a fantastically simple way to help kids feel the passage of time. It comes in a variety of sizes from watch, to desktop to one large enough for the front of a classroom.

Time Timer, $30, timetimer.com

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Time Timer

Mechanical pencil

A pencil is a pencil right? Not so fast. Learning to write is a complex task. Part of the challenge is learning how to hold a pen or pencil correctly, which, according to the National Handwriting Association, reduces strain and affords greater control. A lot of kids struggle with writing for a myriad of reasons, and if grip is one of them, you might want to explore these new pens and pencils developed by Bic with teachers and kids. 

On each model, a yellow line guides correct finger placement. The end of the pens and mechanical pencils are moulded and covered in rubber for comfort—whereas the traditional graphite pencils are shaped like triangles, something Staedler markers have done for years. They are scaled for children’s hands (both left and right-handed), and the pencil leads are extra thick. They charmed this organizer by including a label, too! The only peeve I have is that the package states lead refills are not sold separately.

Learner mechanical pencil, $4, staples.ca

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Bic

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Kid-sized desk chair

If you’re not comfortable, there is no way you’re going to be as productive as you can be. If your child needs to sit at a desk for lengthy periods, consider investing in a chair right-sized for them. A chair is designed to support your body, but if you’re not able to sit back into the chair, your back is left unsupported, and if you slide all the way back in a seat that is too big for you, your legs won’t be comfortable. Good news! There are kids’ sized computer chairs with shorter seat pans, and adjustability height settings.

ORE youth desk chair, $200 USD, wayfair.com

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: Wayfair

More organization tips!

Back-to-school organization: How to create a communication station>

Here are seven tips to help keep kids, family members, caregivers and school staff organized for the school year.

Back-to-school: 8 great tools to get organizedPhoto: iStockphoto

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This article was originally published on Aug 15, 2014

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