10 Tips for Back-to-School Prep

By Leslie Josel

AT A GLANCE

There is always so much to do before that first day—school supplies to buy, homework/study areas to set up, important documents like IEPs and 504s to review, etc. • Reduce the stress and avoid the rush by getting a head start during the summer months


The first days of school can be a challenge as children adjust to a new school year. Whether your child will be distance learning, in-person learning, or homeschooling, it’s always best to start preparing early. Following are 10 tips to help make the transition easier for you and your child.

  1. Make a study playlist. Music can help the brain activate. It can also bolster attention and focus. Some students need it to drown out distracting sounds. Others need it to get their adrenaline going to get motivated. If your child needs music to get going, have them create a music playlist of songs they are familiar with. When it’s time to get down to business, just switch on the playlist and you’re ready to (literally) rock!
  2. Fill out your personal homework profile. Every child has individual homework preferences and personalities. By creating a Personal Homework Profile, your child can take a more holistic approach that focuses on their best practices for getting homework done. The homework profile creates a roadmap that taps into the strengths they’ll need to build that homework muscle.
  3. Review your child’s IEP or 504. A new school year brings changes for your child such as new classes, new teachers, possibly a new school, etc. Therefore it’s a perfect time to review the decisions made previously with this year’s team. Make sure that the IEP or 504 clearly states the goals, accommodations, and/or services you want for the year. Use 10 Questions to Ask Your Student’s Teacher to guide the conversation
  4. Set up a meeting/call with the guidance counselor or related professionals. This is the time to get started on the right foot. Address expectations and/or concerns that you might have for your child during the upcoming school year and formulate a plan together. If it’s a new school arrange a tour before the first day so your child can become familiar with the building.
  5. Purchase organizing supplies. A good organizer is a must-have for kids with LD and ADHD. It should have everything your child needs in one place and be easy to use and maintain. I recommend the Samsill 5-Subject Organizer. The unique design makes it easy to take notes, complete homework, keep track of papers and assignments all-in-one place.
  6. Hang analog clocks in every room of the house your child spends time in. Analog clocks help students see the actual passing of time, allowing them to see the overall sweep of time as it passes. Why is this important? Because your student needs to be able to see their time to learn to manage it!
  7. Create a landing zone. Every child needs one place in the home where everything that goes in and out lives. Think backpacks, soccer bag, dance tote, clarinet, etc. Hang a whiteboard for notes and reminders, hang a clock, and make sure there is an outlet for charging devices. This will help improve organization for the entire family.
  8. Set up your child’s planner/family calendar/electronic apps. Different systems work for different individuals. Help your child find and prepare the best planner system for him! (We love our award-winning, patented-designed, Order Out of Chaos Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management for paper planning and also have several recommendations for electronic apps HERE.)
  9. Purchase alarm clocks. Yes, alarm clocks. Your child should NOT be using his phone as one. There are tons of great options out there for all students. There is even one that we love called SONIC BOOM that gets even the deepest sleepers out of bed!
  10. Create a school supply zone. When your child finally sits down to do work does he have everything he needs all in one place? Most likely not. Simple solution: your child needs a school supply zone. It’s not necessarily where he’ll do homework, but there should be one place in the house where the printer, textbooks, supplies, etc. are all located. And a tip within a tip! When shopping for back to school make sure to stock up on all those essentials to avoid those last-minute, late-night trips to the store.

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order Out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of several books including the recently published How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away.

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