A new school year is almost here, and along with it comes the new school supply list. It seems like those lists get longer (and more expensive) each year. And if you’re like most people, you discover that you already had many of the things on your child’s list — after you’ve already bought new items. Keeping your school supplies organized will help you and your child not only know what you have and be able to find what’s needed quickly and easily, but will also save you money since you won’t have to purchase duplicate items. Read on for some ways to organize your school supplies for the new school year.
Figure out what you have. The first thing is to gather all the school supplies in the house into one location. Don’t worry about the fact that this might temporarily create a bigger mess — it will be worth it! Gather up all the loose pens and pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, markers, crayons, notebooks, binders, and whatever else from around the house. Check last year’s backpacks, forgotten desk drawers, and any other likely place where supplies may be stashed. Once you’ve got it all together, you can assess what you actually have on hand.
Purge what you can’t use. As you gather the supplies, sort through and get rid of dried up markers, pens that are out of ink, dried out glue, and other supplies that are past their prime. Recycle what you can, but don’t get hung up on doing this perfectly. Your goal is get control of what you have so that the next school year can go more smoothly.
Sort, sort, sort. Keeping supplies together in groups will make it so much easier to find what you need. Rather than tossing all the writing implements into one container, instead take the time to separate pens, pencils, markers, etc. If you have children who use both narrow and wide ruled paper, sort notebooks and looseleaf. You’ll know best how specific you need to be in your groupings, depending on what you’ve got on hand and what your child will need.
Choose a central place for all your supplies. Pick a central place in your home where all the school supplies will live. Having everything in one place means you or your child will know exactly where to look when it’s time to find school supplies. You can choose a shelf, a closet, or a convenient corner — choose something that works for your house. Be sure that it is easily accessible. Consider putting most used items on lower shelves so that the shorter members of the family can reach!
Contain. Choose clear containers whenever possible. This will allow you to tell at a glance what each container has in it, and thus make it easier to find what you need. Choose appropriate sized containers for the job. Clear plastic shoeboxes with locking lids are great for writing implements, scissors and glue, and other smaller items. Larger clear plastic boxes — sometimes sold as “sweater boxes” — are great for notebooks and packs of paper. You can also use a magazine file for notebooks.
Use creative solutions. Boxes are great, but you can get creative if you have limited space. An-over-the-door shoe organizer with clear pockets can hold pens, pencils, markers, and glue sticks or bottles. Magazine files or bookends can contain binders, notebooks, and packs of looseleaf paper. A mail organizer can also make sorting colored paper easy. Look around your house for items that can do double duty.
Label. Even if you choose clear containers, labels will make your school supply storage even more efficient. Take the time to create labels, either by hand or with a label maker, and affix them to your containers. If you have children who are just learning to read, affixing pictures of the items in each container can help them find what they need on their own.