It's officially back-to-school season, when families are in a rush to transition out of the holiday mood. Soon, late-night movie marathons will be replaced by an early bedtime routine, and a new study schedule will start to take shape.
The long list of school preparations is a daunting task to get to, but if mums and dads are organised ahead of time, it'll help everyone in the house adjust without a hitch. We spoke to a Dubai-based dad of a fifth and a ninth grader for useful tips on how to get students ready for the new academic year. Here, you'll discover clever ways to set reminders, plan meals, sort desk clutter and more.
"Avoid shocking children into the new routine; start slow and prepare them as early as August," said Mouhamed Hassan, a former Arabic teacher turned influencer, who shares advice on parenting, education and fitness on Instagram, where he's better known as Arab Baba.
Hassan's first and foremost tip is to clear off big purchases for the year - school bags, uniforms and shoes. Any last-minute orders can prove stressful for parents and their kids. As for school supplies, Hassan says he saves stationery for last during the back-to-school season, when such items are heavily discounted.
Any tool that can help your child keep on track, is a tool worth having. Desk organisers, sticky notes, magnetic calendars and snack stations introduce order into what will be a busy and challenging school year for the students.
We've compiled Hassan's tips on organisation, and coupled them with the best-rated tools you can shop from Amazon. You're just in time for the Back to School Sale, where incredible deals on stationery, electronics and school bags await you.
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1. Give stationery items and school supplies a home
Pencils, markers, art supplies and erasers can quickly pile up over the year. They're just as easily misplaced, so offer little ones a storage caddy on the desk that rotates and gives them access to the crayon or marker they want in a jiffy. Each of the six containers, in our Hapinest pick, comes away like a pull-out drawer, keeping the desk clean and organised. If you tend to buy stationery in bulk, categorise the excess items into a rolling storage cart, along with bigger project essentials, such as glue, chart paper, scissors and print ink cartridges. Finally, get older students a large-capacity pencil case - our pick even fits a scientific calculator.
2. Put up planners for study, meals and chores
Magnetic planners can streamline most of the morning rush. Hassan uses several around the house for various purposes - one goes onto the refrigerator with the lunch schedule for the day and another in the room that lists morning rules and reminders, such as rechecking bag contents for books, laptop and water. "I have a system in place, where the kids stop by the kitchen to take their lunch and water from the fridge every morning," he added. You could opt for template planners for each day of the week, or invest in a colourful chore chart with small magnets to keep younger children engaged. Older students might appreciate a calendar to track their assignment due dates. Painting a section of the wall with chalkboard paint will allow them to scribble and alter the calendar to their liking.
3. Refresh the pantry for snacks and meals
Breakfast and lunch are an easier affair with meal prep containers. Give your kids the long-lasting energy they need with vitamin-packed fruit and vegetables, says Hassan. Some air-tight containers come with dividers, letting you separate different food groups quickly when packing school lunch boxes. But, what of after-school hunger pangs? Exhausted children will want a pick-me-up as soon as they're home. This calls for a healthy snack station. Refrigerated foods can go into a dedicated pull-out bin in the fridge, stocked with their favourite yoghurt, cheese sticks and juice boxes, while granola bars and crisps can be left out on a two-tier lazy Susan snack bar.
4. Create desk storage
There's never enough desk storage to tuck away the large volume of handouts, draft work and stationery a student will bring home. A neat study area naturally invites clarity in the work they'll produce, which is why organisers for different supplies are essential. Hassan always has a stocked paper tray on the desk for rough calculations and planning. Papers and other subject-specific copies can be retrieved from a multi-tier sorter like this Supeasy mesh organiser. For textbooks and dictionaries that the student often refers to, an on-desk shelf would fare better than haphazard piles. And, finally, a desk divider is where all the miscellaneous items, such as stapler pins, paper clips, tape and more, can be stored in.
5. Add reminders wherever possible
Small, helpful reminders throughout the day can go a long way. A pack of Post-it notes in the bag and on the desk allows children to jot down commitments and follow them through. Unlike planners and calendars, these are vibrant beacons that can go anywhere with the student. There are great eco-friendly alternatives available, too, like the Jjpro reusable sticky notes that cling to walls, glass, screens, desks, doors and any other smooth surface.
6. Reset the bedroom
Take a look around the bedroom, and see what corners can be improved. You can anticipate their needs by adding a laundry basket and wall hooks for their school bags. This way there will be fewer chances for clutter to pile up till the weekend. Reassessing the bedroom also involves cracking down on how you can get the kids to wake up in time for school again. Hassan prepares his daughters with an early morning alarm, a week before the term starts. Arrange for a handy bedside clock to help them make the move on their own. The Braun digital alarm clock is great for this purpose, since it clearly states the set alarm on a large LCD display.
7. Keep tech essentials safe
If your school has integrated laptops and tablets into the study plan, then your children need protective gear for all their gadgets. With electronics come charging bricks, cables, USB sticks and other necessary accessories that are easy to lose. Gift a high school student peace of mind with a tech organiser that safeguards all they need in one compact pouch. Instead of slipping the laptop in between books, pick up a dedicated bag, like the Mosiso model, which is padded all around to buffer the gadget from any falls and bumps. As for the tablet, a protective case for the screen and the camera is a no-brainer, but your selection will depend on the model you own.
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