Did you ever notice that your child's backpack is a dumping ground for everything- even things that don't have anything to do with school? Looking into this thing (the backpack) can be a total nightmare! It is no wonder there isn't any room left for books and homework!

I often hear parents say, "Gosh! I have hollered at him/her, thrown all of the junk out of it myself and showed him/her countless times how to do it and keep it organized---what am I doing wrong?"

Number 1, you are only tackling half of the problem and
Number 2, your not giving a reason 'why' and
Number 3, you haven't told them where those other valuables 'can' go!

As parents, we tend to think that the answers are so simple, that we wonder why the heck 'our kid', can't get the thought process going the right way. When in reality, they are being a kid; they don't ask the questions that we need them to ask, they don't have any idea of how you organize and the thought of 'why' is totally out of the question. I bet if I ask your mom, she will tell me that YOU were the same way!

So, how do we get through to them and eliminate a few more white hair for ourselves? Well, first of all, this is going to take a little work on your part, but not even a fourth as much work as you are doing now!

You have to give them the 'rules' in the right order.
First you tackle what goes in a backpack and why,
what goes into their locker and when
and what stays home and why. Sounds simple, right?

It takes about two weeks in order to create a habit, that is where your work is going to come in. You aren't going to raise your voice or have a nervous breakdown every time you check their backpack. You are going to calmly, check it every night, by dumping everything out on their bed. Then ask them what it is that they think really belongs in there and why. If they are right, your work is almost finished. If they are wrong, get ready, this could be a long experience, but it will get a little bit better everyday.

Think of it this way, every kid knows commercials by heart; no matter how dumb the commercial is. They learn this without actually paying attention to the TV. That is because it has a tune, a rhyme and they hear it continuously between programs. So, in order to get them to remember what goes into a backpack make a jingle or song to some melody or repeat, repeat, repeat and they will catch on. The words will go through those little heads every time they grab the backpack. Just think, what you do now in first grade (or whatever grade your child is in), you won't have to repeat through the rest of the eleven grades….now isn't that incentive? Let's face it, what you have been trying hasn't worked, give this idea a try!
This is the game plan:

Make a list of what is essential to have in the backpack and in the locker.
Get containers to hold things like pencils, tape, glue etc. Folders for papers and the all-important notebooks. If possible, color coordinate the folder, notebook and book cover, it will be easier for them to find in their locker and in a dark backpack

***HINT- you may want to invest in a locker mate for your child; lockers have more room than you think if you organize it!

This may be one way you might want to make your list:

School Notices/Schedule
backpack-folder to take school notices home and an assignment book
locker- hang or tape the class schedule on inside of the locker door

Lunch money/tickets/pencils/calculator
backpack-small pencil box or case to keep them together
locker- keep a pencil case with 'extra' pencils, eraser and tape
**I would get the folder, with the paper clips in it and then a soft pencil case, that attaches to the clips, that way they never forget it. They need the folder for notes that go home!

By making a list on this order, the child can take it along to school and have everything set the way their note says. Most of the time, you can go to school the week before school starts to get your locker ready. If this is okay, you may want to make the first trip with them—but let THEM do the work, you are just there to help carry the books and advise.

Now you have the backpack and the locker under control, how about the rest of the junk and all of those papers?
I bet when you clean out the backpack, you are looking at the test papers and then throwing them away. WRONG! This is the reason why? (Yes, even parents need to know 'why' sometimes!

This is a great time to set up a filing system that your child can keep all of those papers in. Those same test papers will help them when it comes time to study for quarter and semester tests (forgot that didn't you). You don't have to go out and purchase a filing cabinet, just a box will do with a file folder for each class. It will get full in no time at all!
Next time that there are papers, especially test papers, have them correct the mistakes (you can't study for a test with the wrong answers) and then, file it.

Everything, that doesn't have anything to do with studying, shouldn't go to school for more than one reason. First, the school may not want it there (check the rules) and second, it is so simple for it to be stolen out of a desk or unlocked locker. Your hard-earned money should be protected and so should your child.

So we have set these rules;
1. Nothing goes to school that isn't used for school.
2. Everything has a home or something to store it in.
3. The backpack is emptied, every night and repacked, after homework is complete.
4. We have a plan for organizing the backpack, locker and filing cabinet.
5. Your child is involved in the planning and making the lists.

***HINT-color coordinating and picking out some of your Childs' favorite themes or colors makes them want to keep things organized and looking nice.

Remember that things can be changed as circumstances change. It could be a school schedule or something isn't used as much, as you thought it would be, in the beginning of the year etc.

Work on this together, both of you have a 'say' as to why and how something should be accomplished and listen to your childs opinion, (they have some good ones); they learn what certain teachers require and have to abide by that decision.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Hayner offers tips and hints on organizing and cleaning shortcuts for men, woman and kids. She believes in working smarter-not harder and shows you how with her checklists and articles at.www.organizingandcleaning.com .