It is that time of year again! Many parents are frantically wondering how they can make the mental and emotional transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer to the scheduled, intense days of the school year for their children (and themselves, for that matter!). No need to press the panic button, I promise! If parents have an organized system for managing information to and from school, and can implement the systems for their children to follow, all will be well in the upcoming school year. A system must be set up so your children know where to put their backpacks and papers which must be looked at by parents and then returned to school. 1. Identify a home for backpacks, whether it be a hook in the garage, laundry room or entrance, or perhaps a storage bench in the foyer. Shelves may also be used in a front closet, laundry room or in other practical area in the home. It is preferable to assign an area that is close to the entrance and exit. Make sure that once the space is designated for backpacks, the area is only used for them. 2. Papers that need to be reviewed or signed by parents need to be taken out of backpacks and put in a defined area. I find that a vertical file that can be hung up on a wall with each child’s name on each compartment is a great way to drop off school papers. Your child can even put stickers on his/her bin to make it even more personal. Another suggestion is having a shelf with magazine holders, with each child’s name on the holder for incoming paper. 3. Outgoing papers which need to be returned to school can also be put in the vertical file or magazine holder. Make sure that you label it; for example, “Ashley in” and “Ashley out.” Emphasize how important it is to your children that they follow this system from day one. By including them in their school organization, you, in turn, are teaching them that organization will save time and energy and eliminate chaotic school mornings looking for unsigned papers and the like. 4. Consider buying a master calendar for the entire family. Each family member should be designated their own magic marker color and activities can be marked on the calendar. At a moment’s glance, it will be easy to differentiate one family member’s activity from the other. Your children will be responsible for making sure they note when and where an activity takes place (assuming, of course, they are old enough to do this). 5. At the beginning of each school year, I would advise purchasing a large, three-ring binder, so you can keep important documents (immunizations, copies of birth certificates, etc.), as well as class lists, vacation schedules, calendars for events and other pertinent information. Use dividers for each child. Use plastic sleeves for each activity or document; this way, both you and your child can access the information needed at a moment’s notice. Here’s to a stress-free and organzied school year for both you and your child! For more of Bonnie Cooper’s stories, click here.