4 Easy Ways to Organize Your Kid’s Backpack to Keep Them On-Track All Year Long
Is your grade-schooler's backpack messy and disorganized? Here are four ways to help get your child's backpack under control.
Map out the backpack
"Kids with organization issues need to be explicitly taught how to organize their backpack," says educator Amanda Morin. "They may not learn it on their own."
Start from scratch by emptying out your child's backpack. Make sure the backpack is sturdy and has multiple compartments and pockets.
Have your child sort all school supplies into clearly defined categories. (By the way, here's how to save money on those pricey school necessities.) For instance, put pens, pencils, and highlighters together. Match up notebooks with folders and textbooks. Make a pile for stuff he has to take back and forth to school, like his lunchbox or gym clothes. Next, assign each category to a compartment or zipper pocket in the backpack.
Once everything has a place, have your child draw a picture of his backpack, labeling it with what goes where. The map is a reminder of where things go.
Use a luggage tag checklist
Morin also suggests using a checklist to help your child remember what needs to go into the backpack.
Invest in an inexpensive clear luggage tag. Remove the address label. Use a red marker to make a checklist on a piece of paper that will fit in the tag. It should list what your child needs to bring to school in the backpack. Use a blue marker to make a checklist of what needs to come home from school. (Here's a pre-made backpack checklist you can print out.)
Place the papers back to back and put them in the luggage tag. Attach it to the zipper tab of the backpack and teach your child to use the checklists as a guide. (Did you know about these shopping tricks teachers use when buying back-to-school supplies?)
Make a school-to-home-to-school folder
Give your child a folder in which to place homework and other papers the teachers passes out but doesn't collect. Remind your child that this folder needs to come home at the end of the day. Check the folder each afternoon and take out anything that doesn't need to go back.
Sign forms that need to go back and add notes to the teacher, lunch money, or anything else that must go to school. Have your child put it in the backpack for the next day.
If your child's backpack is still disorganized, it could also be sign of another issue, like ADHD or executive functioning issues. Make sure to reach out to your child's teacher and share your concerns.
Ask for extra textbooks
"Lugging big or heavy textbooks can make it hard for your child to keep his backpack organized," says Morin.
If your child tends to forget to bring home the right books for homework, or if they don't fit in the backpack, speak to his school. (And here are some tips for parents on getting kids through that homework.) You may be able to get permission to have an extra set of books to keep at home. Stress that having extra books makes it easier for your child to remember to do his schoolwork.