The school calendar is all crossed off, but your final exam in organizing is just getting started.
Virtually every child looks forward to the last day of school with anticipation and glee. Summer vacation offers the promise of a less structured daily routine, freedom from homework and tests, the ability to follow personal interests and time to relax with friends and family.
But before you let the relaxation of summer break take over, be sure to complete these post-school organizing projects.
Cleaning out and organizing backpacks
When the last day of school finally arrives and the kids come home, don't be tempted to throw backpacks into a dark corner and forget about them until the fall. Empty each one completely. Check all of the compartments and remove the old gum wrappers, sticky lip balm, chewed pencils and lost absence excuses. Create stacks of spiral binders, subject folders, three-ring notebooks and loose papers.
Also, make sure there are no library or school textbooks that your student brought home by accident. You will avoid fees and hassles.
Once each backpack is empty check the condition to decide whether your child can use it again next school year. Are the pockets torn? Do the zippers still work? Can it withstand another year of abuse? If not, immediately put it in a donation bag or the trash, and get rid of it. If it’s still usable, put it in a closet, mudroom cubby or your child's bedroom until it's needed again.
Do the same kind of analysis of each child's lunch bag. If it's still in good shape, give it a thorough cleaning and disinfection. Once dry, store it where you can find it in the fall.
Organize important school papers
For the next step, be sure to involve your kids. Have them take a look at each subject notebook and folder to determine if the information inside will be helpful for reference over the coming school year. For example, if your student is taking a language course and will continue to the next level, you may want to keep handouts and other materials in order to review and build on the knowledge they just gained.
If your child has a gift for writing, fine art or science, or is proud of an accomplishment related to a difficult subject, ask them if they'd like to keep a few assignments or projects they're proud of.
Keeping school days souvenirs and records
Speaking of keepsakes, it's a good idea to set aside a container for each child to hold the papers and objects they want to save. The end of the school year is the perfect time to do for this organization project.
Go through all of the important papers you've stashed in cubbies and drawers throughout the year, and get rid of all but the very best and most important ones. Decide how big the keepsake box should be and save only the items that fit. Take pictures of a few items that don't make the cut.
I like to save grade reports, achievement certificates, letters from teachers and other significant information in a separate file for easy finding. These items are useful when putting together a history of your child's progress, accomplishments and interests for the future.
As kids grow up and apply to colleges, these documents make the application process easier. They give your student concrete histories to draw from when writing their entrance essays.
Organizing tips for storing school supplies
As you look through the contents of the backpack, be sure to go through locker items with an eye toward reusing them next year. Keep the good and get rid of the rest.
Many schools sell students supplies for the coming year that are all wrapped up and ready to go, but if you plan to save some money and purchase the items yourself, then gather the unused notebooks, folders, pencils, pens, markers and tablets to consolidate into a central location with those of their siblings. That way you'll be able to go "shopping" in your own home for many of the standard required items.
If you plan to simply purchase new supplies from the school, consider donating your extras to charity. There are many kids out there in need of the basics. Or, add the leftovers to your kids' art supplies and let them use the items at home during the summer months.
Once you get organized, summer break begins
Going through this cleaning process at the end of the school year teaches responsibility, allows parents to acknowledge their children's accomplishments, provides a sense of completion to the school year and sets the stage for shifting gears toward summer activities. Now, go have some fun!
How do you organize or celebrate when the school year ends? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
As of June 2, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.