The first thing to remember is that gadgets and gimmicks don’t work unless the person holding those gadgets actually use them. Before parents go out to buy the twelve dollar binder with the insane folders, pockets and trimmings realize that those folders pockets and trimmings are useless without a real commitment on the part of the student to be more organized.
Before SuppliesBefore supplies are bought or even discussed a better idea is to sit down with the student and talk about what needs to change. This needs to be done in a non-threatening, non accusing manner. Discuss with the child what went well last year, what went not so well and how to do things differently. Explore what the biggest issues were. Was the problem lost homework? Was the issue misplacing needed supplies? Did homework that needed to be done get left at school or homework finished get left at home? Did notices for parents sink to the bottom of a chaotic book bag? Did school text books end up lost?
Don’t let this conversation be a re-hash of bad memories and experiences. Be clear that the purpose of the conversation is to make changes that will enhance the student’s experience of school and make learning more enjoyable and less stressful. Make a list of what the major problems were and possible solutions.
The Power of the PurchaseAfter making a list of what the student wants to change, it is then time to go get those school supplies which are going to help him or her get and stay organized. Remember that school supplies are expensive and full of gimmicks designed to attract a child’s interest, but may not be as functional as parents would like. In addition, all the organizing extras are meaningless if the child is not going to use them, so select carefully.
Be mindful that ownership often leads to better motivation. Kids need to own their school supplies, recognizing that these are items designed and purchased for them. Allowing kids to have a say in what is purchased and how it is used will make them more likely to care for the item as well as to use it for its designated purpose. Students should be present to pick out the school supplies and within reason have a say in what is purchased.
It is common knowledge that school supplies have become more and more expensive over the years and that companies advertise to kids using gimmicks, characters and popularity factors to encourage purchases. Parents do not have to buy into the quicksand of advertising. A good compromise is to purchase one or two of the latest fads, if that fad looks like it might be a helpful tool. For example, if the child really wants that hot colored calculator and the budget can afford it, why not? Just remember that the student does not need every one of the latest hot supplies on the wish list. One or two will suffice.
For younger kids the use of stickers can replace high priced notebooks and binders with characters already on them.Using the stickers to decorate the supplies is a fun activity. This gives the kids the fun of the characters along with a neat project to do before school opens.