Back to school means getting back into a lot of routines -- laying out of clothes the evening before, earlier bedtimes, earlier wakeup times, meal planning, and of course, homework...
Most of them come pretty easily to us, but the homework routine always seems to have a bit of a rocky start, especially when the weather is still so nice at the beginning of the year and the kids are dying to head outside to play when they get home. Usually I'm a bit of a stickler for getting work done before play, but I won't deny them these beautiful fall days that are all but numbered, so in the meantime, homework is bumped to after sports practices and dinner are completed.
With my oldest heading off to middle school this year and my youngest starting kindergarten (as well as three more in between!), staying on top of all of their classwork is a bit of a challenge. One thing that is a HUGE sanity saver is taking time to create what I call a "homework box" each fall.
What's A Homework Box
Simply put, our homework box is a plastic storage box with a lid (lid = very important) that contains all of the necessary supplies to complete day-to-day homework in a timely and efficient manner.
The box is brought to the dining room table, where we complete our work, only during homework time, and all supplies are returned to the box and the box is put away when homework is completed. These supplies are to be used only for homework, so that I can easily keep tabs on the supplies and replenish them as necessary.
What's In Our Homework Box
I stock our homework box each fall when I'm shopping for school supplies, but the prep work starts before we ever leave the house. I start by creating a master list of all of the supplies that my kids need -- because shopping off of five different lists gets a little crazy! I then go through and add additional quantities of the supplies that I think they'll need to complete homework.
Walmart has always been our best bet for being able to pick up all of the supplies that we need on one stop, so that's where we headed again this year!
I've always been partial to Crayola's quality products, so their crayons, colored pencils, and both fine and wide-tipped markers are included in our homework box.
Elmer's Glue-All school glue, glue sticks, and several pairs of pointed scissors are all necessities for my younger children, who do a lot of cutting and pasting projects.
Highlighters, pens and pencils (these are some of the cute personalized school supplies I shared recently), as well as a ruler and extra erasers are also necessary items.
By the way, make sure those pencils are sharpened! It's amazing how much my time my kids will waste looking for a sharpened pencil rather than just sharpening one.
And finally I also include wide-ruled notebook paper, index cards to create flashcards, our well-worn dictionary and an old iPod to be used as a calculator or to quickly look something up instead of using the computer.
Oh, I almost forgot... not pictured but highly useful are several sheets of white poster board. I can't tell you how many times my kids have suddenly remembered late on a Sunday evening that they have a huge project due Monday morning that required poster board! So now instead of heading to the store, we shop my office.
I won't say that homework hour is always sunshine and rainbows now, but it's certainly easier to manage knowing that we have everything we need within arm's reach!
What back to school routine do you struggle with the most?