Spring Cleaning

With the change in season, you may be contemplating spring cleaning your house. This is also a good time of year to spring clean school supplies and replenish them. By this time in the year, pencils, erasers, and lined paper are usually depleted. Also frequently missing by spring are colored pencils, highlighters, and pencil sharpeners. In more extreme cases, calculators are smashed and other math tools have been lost. The students I have worked with are usually shy about bringing these things to their parents' attention. School supplies aren't always top-of-mind, and children sometimes worry about being scolded for losing or breaking things.

If your child tends to be tough on his or her possessions, you may want to take a complete inventory of school supplies. Either require that all of her binders, notebooks, and pencil cases come home before spring break or schedule a time when you can visit the school desk or locker together. Remember to completely empty out the book bag and gym bag while you’re at it.

Don’t despair if your child’s binders and folders appear to be a mess. It is normal for papers to become disorganized by this point in the year. Take them home and pace out your organization plans over a few days. Binder covers and folders can easily be repaired with duct tape. With the new patterned and colored tapes, such patches can even be good looking. Binder and notebook tabs and dividers can be patched up with packing tape carefully cut down to size. Have a hole punch at the ready for putting away un-punched papers that have been stashed in the pockets. Cellophane tape helps repair torn papers as well as torn hole punches. (Just place tape over the front and back of the original hole and carefully punch back through it.) If the volume of your child’s papers has exceeded his or her binders’ storage capacity, consider picking up an accordion folder for older papers. You may, however, want to check with teachers before removing papers from binders; some could be planning for review activities that require referring back to old handouts during class activities.

Once you’ve done the work of helping your child to get organized, help him to maintain it through the end of the school year. One strategy is to have a once-a-week check-in where you look over pencil cases and binders together. If you make a checklist to help with this task, your child will know exactly what he needs to do before you sit down together, and your time taking inventory will be faster and easier. With a little effort, you can find an organizational routine that works well and is relatively easy to keep up.

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