I have been procrastinating getting myself and daughter ready for the new school year. For some reason, no summer seems to have gone by quicker than this one and I am not quite ready for the demands of a new school year.
One of the most exciting parts of a new school year, even as a parent, are the new school supplies. There is something about the look of brand new supplies that makes me feel giddy! As a therapist, parents ask me for advice about the best supplies for their children and I love being able to recommend ones that I have used at the gym and with my own daughter. Some kids need a different kind of school supply in order to be most successful. Whether it be a particular kind of writing instrument that helps encourage a proper grip or tools to help during homework time, it's important that we find what works for each child. Below, I share some of my favorite school supplies and how they can help children.
See Through Pencil Case-for kids who have a difficult time with keeping track of and organizing their supplies, you can get a transparent pencil box or case. If you put supplies in a box, you can sort pencils, crayons and miscellaneous items into smaller Ziploc bags so they can grab what they need without having to waste time on digging through everything. Tiger Brand makes some great (and sturdy) zippered pencil cases in two different sizes which is another great option.
Colored Folders-another way to help kids as organized as possible is to assign different colored folders to each subject. If your school requires a certain kind of folder, than you can place colored labels on top of the folders in order to help the kids find their folders easier. Make sure you are consistent with the colors you use to label each subject.
*I tend to suggest plastic folders for the kids I work with as they don't rip as easy. Kids I work with are prone to shoving lots of papers into their folders which can lead to them ripping. Plastic ones have a bit more give and can handle a bit more wear and tear than the cardboard ones. I love the Yoobi brand of folders for my own daughter; they are sturdy and offer a variety of colors for different subjects. Even better, for every sale, Yoobi will donate supplies to classrooms in need all across the country.
Dry Erase Weekly Calendar-one way to keep your family organized is to have a calendar visible for all to see. This is not to keep track of homework, but more about keeping track of after school activities, parties, appointments, etc.. I typically suggest doing a weekly calendar and not a monthly one as it can get too overwhelming for kids, especially if you have a child who has organizational difficulties. If you have more than one child, assign a different color dry erase marker so they can easily spot their activities. Sitting down as a family on a Sunday and filling out the schedule together is a great way to get the whole family ready for the upcoming week and to discuss any plans or changes that might be happening. This is particularly important if you have a child who presents with anxiety.
Mighty Zipper Pouch-I love this large pouch from OOLY for keeping things organized, especially for older kids who might have more and larger supplies (think calculators, rulers, etc.). The pouch has 3 compartments with one of them being see-through making it easy to see some of the more important or most used supplies that your child may need. The three compartments means you can organize writing instruments in one compartment, larger supplies in the other and miscellaneous supplies in the third.
**if you have a child who has a tendency to forget things in school, you can have one for home and one for school
Do-Overs Highlighters highlighters are an important school supply, especially as children get older and the demands increase. They can be a helpful tool for organization during homework time. I am a particular fan of the Do-Over highlighters by Ooly because it allows for kids to not get stressed out over making mistakes. Highlighters can be used for lots of different things. Obviously, highlighters are needed when reading and having to keep track of information. For some kids, I have suggested that they use a highlighter to keep track of what homework they have completed; once they finish an assignment, they highlight it.
Weekly Planner- a good weekly planner is an essential tool for kids to help keep them organized. As my own daughter climbs her way up in the grades, she is becoming responsible for having to write down her homework assignments and not count on a handout from her teacher with all of the assignments. She is still too young for a full-on daily planner, but I have been on the lookout for them just in case it might help her or any of the other kids I work with. I have fallen in love with the weekly planners by Yoobi as each week is on a side-by-side two page spread. There is lots of space for them to write their assignments and room for extra notes when necessary. In addition, there are coloring pages for the kids to fill in at the end!
Triangular Crayons-the triangle crayons by Crayola are my favorite, especially for younger children who are working on developing a proper grip on writing instruments. The triangle shape and thicker width of the crayon encourages a tripod-like grasp. I encourage parents and teachers to break the crayons into two or three smaller pieces because the smaller the crayon is, the less likely they are to hold onto it with a fisted grip.
Sticky Note Tabs-over the years, I have been asked to help kids with their homework during my sessions. One of the things that I have observed is that for some kids, trying to ruffle through folders or workbooks to find their homework can be an incredibly disorganizing and a stressful way to start the homework process. One method I have used is using sticky note tabs to mark the homework before leaving school could help homework time be less stressful at home. That way they can reach into their folder and easily see what needs to be done. Once they are done with the homework, they can remove the tab and put the paper back in their folders. For younger kids, I love the variety of sticky tab packs by OOLY (I actually had a hard time making a choice!). For older kids, the Post-It Flags (which come in a variety of colors and sizes) are a great way for kids to organize their homework folders.
Accordion Folders-I don't know about you, but one of the things that I struggle with each year is what to do with all the assignments and art projects that my daughter comes home with. One of the things we will be doing this year is getting a great big accordion folder that we can fill up at the end of every week or two with old assignments that she wants to keep. For her, this 7-pocket folder by Five Star is plenty big enough as it will expand as we add things to it each cleanup and it will keep her homework folder and her backpack from getting cluttered and disorganized.
Some things to keep in mind:
* if you find something you love, make sure that you stock up on them just in case your child loses it, breaks it, etc.
*if you know you have a kid who has a tendency to leave things behind, be sure to have a backup stash at home; this is particularly important for a pencil case with all of the necessary supplies for homework.
So, these are a few of my favorite supplies. Have you found special school supplies that have helped your children be more successful at school and at home? I would love to hear what kinds of supplies and strategies have been helpful to be able to recommend them to my clients.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful, successful and organized school year!