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Vicki Norris

Professional Organization Expert

Organize for School

Featured On:

  • HGTV
  • Good Housekeeping
It may seem like just yesterday that your children came home singing ‘no more pencils, no more books,’ but back-to-school season is upon us once again!

When I was growing up, back-to-school season was my favorite time of year. I would get so excited near the end of August when it was time for new school supplies, an updated lunch box, and a cool new backpack! I was always happy to get myself organized before the first day of school.

Not surprisingly, many people don’t share this enthusiasm! The yearly ritual of back-to-school preparation can feel more like an upheaval than a fresh start. Shopping for new school supplies, clothes, and extra-curricular equipment takes time, money, and energy that we don’t always feel we can spare. And establishing new schedules for yourself and your children can be overwhelming to say the least. But there are a few ways you can help ease the transition while keeping your sanity!

A smart place to start is to create an inventory of everything you need before you get sucked into the commercialism of the season. This will help eliminate the over-abundance of school supplies that many households end up with. It’s fun to have new pens, pencils, notebooks, and the like, but if you’ve already got most of these necessities on hand, try to resist the urge to buy more. Use what you’ve got first, then re-stock when the time is right. Buy only what you need.

Even better, why not create a school supply box of your previously-used, but not-ready-for-the-trash items where each child goes to look first to see if they truly need something new? Not only will you be demonstrating to your kids the importance of re-using and repurposing your belongings, you’ll also save yourself last-minute trips to the store when a project is due the next day and there’s a glue stick emergency!

Finally, time management can be a real struggle for busy moms and dads. Having a good system for recording important appointments, school events, sports games and practices, and parent/teacher meetings is essential for sanity. Many of my tech-savvy clients use an electronic or online organizing system. For the paper-based crowd, however, a large desk or wall calendar/whiteboard combination can help you gain control of your time. Hanging it in a place where family members can view it is informative to all and helps everyone feel like they’re part of the process.

Getting ready for a new school year shouldn’t feel like detention for you or your kids. A bit of forethought and preparation will go a long way. I hope these options will provide some school-year sanity for your family!

Best Back-to-School Organizing by Vicki Norris

The Best You Can Get

  • Schoolfolio – The Single

    Vicki says: If your fridge has become the Metropolitan Museum of Art because you can’t bear to get rid of your child’s drawings or paintings, a Schoolfolio can help you start the school year with a blank canvas! Large enough to hold 24” x 18” paper, these snazzy portfolios will also tame bulky, 3-D art projects. During the school year, store your budding artists’ masterpieces inside. Then, I recommend that at the end of the year you choose five to ten favorites from the entire collection to keep and you’ll eliminate the over-accumulation that can happen with this cherished memorabilia.

    • Made in America
    • Choose from four cheery designs
    • Made of strong polyethylene to withstand wear and tear
  • Stacks and Stacks – Hanging Shelf Locker Organizer

    Vicki says: Student workloads have definitely increased. Too bad locker sizes haven’t! Help your student maximize his or her locker with this hanging shelf organizer. Three strong shelves instantly increase the useable interior space – they’ll even support those huge history and science textbooks. Like any good locker partner, the hanging organizer doesn’t take up all of the room inside and it thoughtfully leaves enough space for a jacket, gym clothes, or a backpack.

    • Provides three shelves of storage space
    • Adjustable size works with both full and half-size lockers
    • Durable and attractive
    • Made of heavy-duty fabric with strong steel hangers
  • Target – Back-to-School in a Box

    Vicki says: The name says it all! The 44 piece ‘Back-to-School in a Box’ set is a great way to save time, money, and packaging! It comes with almost everything your student needs for the school year. The large knapsack is jam-packed with supplies including pencils, crayons, markers, glue, safety scissors, pocket folders, and a spiral notebook. It even comes with an insulated lunch bag. When the first day of school arrives, all you’ll need to do is pack a lunch and your child will be good to go!

    • Available for grades K-3 and 4-7
    • Choose from pink or blue
    • Backpack has adjustable straps and a zippered closure
    • Available online only
  • The Container Store – Busy Box

    Vicki says: Smart and compact storage gets an A+! Get ready for arts & crafts or art class memorabilia storage before the school year starts. Stay one step ahead with the stackable busy box. Three separate boxes snap together into a single rolling unit to house arts & crafts supplies or finished drawings and paintings to save throughout the school year. It could also be a great storage space for overflow school supplies.

    • Wheeled for easy transport
    • Constructed of heavy-duty plastic
    • Large sturdy handle
  • momAgenda Daily Organizer

    Vicki says: If you have as much trouble staying on top of your schedule as your student does getting to math class on time, earn some extra credit with this daily organizer. Perfect for busy moms on the run, the momAgenda allows you to keep track of your own schedule as well as your children’s. The pages are structured with enough space for your daily appointments and provide four additional spaces to record other family members’ commitments. Large enough to capture all of your entries, yet small enough to fit in a purse or pocketbook, the momAgenda gets top marks for excellence!

    • Available in chocolate brown and fuchsia
    • 13-month academic calendar
    • Removable address book can be reused each year

You will be happy with any of these

  • Stacks and Stacks – Stuff Bucket

    Vicki says: Don’t get sent to the principal’s office for leaving your stuff lying around. Perfect for any student, from the budding third-grade artist to the college-bound co-ed, the Stuff Bucket will stow and transport cosmetics, bathroom essentials, art supplies, or any gear with ease. With 21 pockets around the outside and six on the inside, there’s more than enough space for all of your ‘stuff.’ Multi-use products like this get a gold star for practicality!

    • Versatile and portable
    • Made of durable canvas
    • Choose from six colors – black, dark green, purple, orange/hot pink, green/pink, or blue
  • The Container Store – Stand-up Pen and Pencil Caddy

    Vicki says: Say goodbye to leaky pens and pocket protectors! Grab and go products like this stand-up pen and pencil caddy are great for students and parents alike. When closed, it will store and transport your pens, pencils, markers, or paint brushes. When you’re ready to draw, paint, or write, just unzip the top, fold down the side flaps and the carrier becomes a free-standing holder. Perfect for classroom or office desktops!

    • Velcro pocket provides additional storage
    • Made of sturdy black nylon
    • Small enough to fit in a purse or knapsack
  • The Container Store – Desktop Calendar Sheets

    Vicki says: If time management is your school-year downfall, rise to the top of the class with these desktop calendar sheets. Large squares represent each day of the week with enough room for several entries per day. Additional room along the side is useful for important notes or contact information. This is a great tool for teaching children about the importance of effective scheduling. Place the pad right on your desktop to ensure daily viewing to keep your schedule in synch.

    • 36 pre-printed, tear-off pages
    • Customize your schedule
  • JWorld Ergonomic School Backpack

    Vicki says: Between weighty textbooks, a packed lunch, multiple notebooks, gym clothes, and after-school activity gear, students of all ages are feeling the weight of their studies in more ways than one. Why not help them take a load off (and prevent future chiropractic visits!) with an ergonomic backpack like this one? Its curved shoulder straps ensure comfort, even while carrying a heavy load, and the multiple zippered pockets allow for better weight distribution.

    • Strong polyester construction
    • Separate water bottle pocket
    • Available in blue or gray
  • Storables – Project Case

    Vicki says: An effective way to put the brakes on mindless paper accumulation is to organize it by topic (or school subject!). A case like this can help define each category and make record retrieval much easier. For example, assign one project case per child in your family and keep their yearly artwork, school paperwork, homework, or hand-outs inside. Students can use project cases to stay on top of their own paper throughout the school year and learn a valuable lesson about organizing at the same time. Label each case for quick and easy reference and no one will have to use the ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse again!

    • Sturdy plastic construction withstands rough handling
    • Large, open compartment
    • Bright blue latch keeps contents secure

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