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store3My youngest isn’t out of school a month yet and I find myself talking to parents about back to school supplies. As I have this conversation with moms, their children are usually giving me the “stink eye” for bringing up this forbidden topic in the summer…school!!

However, as an adult whose foresight/hindsight is in full throttle, parents want to avoid the mad dash to the office supply stores in August for the back to school supplies.

Below are tips to keep in mind as you plan for your shopping experience:

1. Establish Your Child’s Organizing Style

Your organizing style may be different than your child. Conduct a short assessment (1) to determine your child’s organizing style.  Determine if they are:

Visual Organizers

Visual organizers need to see everything otherwise they can’t find it.

Comfy Cozy Organizers

Comfy cozy organizers need to have everything within their reach.

Sequential Organizers

Sequential organizers are the tech savvy kids who will also have an “order” to their organizing.

2. Avoid the Back to School Rush

Go NOW to the office supply store. Check your school’s website for the list of items your child needs for September. If you shop now, you will have many more items to choose from.

3. Buy an Open Small File Box and Hanging File Folders

Your middle and high school students will benefit from this . Assign every class a file folder in this box. Ideally every week, students should go through their folders, purge the papers they don’t need and place them in the appropriate file. I usually recommend saving all papers from class. These stored papers will help students when studying for exams and finals.

4. Decide on a Strategy to Record Homework

For those tech savvy students, cell phones, iPads, and computers may be the instruments of choice to record homework assignments, if the school allows such devices in the classroom. For others, bring your child to the office supply store to look at the assignment books available. I tend to like the bigger planners that allow for more room to write. The typical high school planners tend to have limited space that can be frustrating for the student who has large handwriting.

5. Binders, Notebooks, Folders and Dividers

This can be tricky. If your student likes to use binders, I strongly suggest using the [easyazon-link asin=”B0084V76A4″ locale=”us”]Better Binders from Staples©[/easyazon-link]. These binders are made of thick plastic with rubber edges, making them one of the most durable for school age kids.

[easyazon-link asin=”B002G9TX7E” locale=”us”]Plastic 2 pocket folders[/easyazon-link] are a great for students who need to store homework, tests, or other random papers. On one side of the folder, write “Bring Home” and on the other side write, “Take to School”.

For kids who like to have only one or two binders to hold all their classes, use [easyazon-link asin=”B0000AQOH2″ locale=”us”]sturdy plastic dividers[/easyazon-link] to prevent tearing. Students who like to carry notebooks instead of binders may want to purchase a [easyazon-link asin=”B002O17LCS” locale=”us”]multi pocket folder[/easyazon-link] to carry important school papers.

6. Bring Your Child to Buy the Backpack

Have your child try on the backpack before you buy it. Is it big enough to hold his books? Does it have too many pockets and zippers- too many pockets make for too many lost items. Do the straps offer enough padding to give support? These questions are important in helping to find the best backpack for school.

Be mindful that school is only weeks away. The sooner you get into the office supply stores and purchase the back to school supplies, the more items you will have to chose from and you won’t be fighting the crowds. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


1) Kutscher, M.L. and Moran, M. (2009) [easyazon-link asin=”0061797413″ locale=”us”]Organizing the Disorganized Child: Simple Strategies to Succeed in School[/easyazon-link]. New York, NY: Harper Studio.