My last piece centered on organizing your child’s clothing and toys, which are always the two largest categories in terms of volume. Now it is time to get down to the final articles which include desks, supplies, and papers.
I think it is very important for a child to have a workspace regardless of their age and it is surprising how many rooms are missing this key element. A desk or table will come in handy when they are coloring at five years old or studying at fourteen. Donna Goldberg, an Educational Consultant and author of The Organized Student recommends an L-shaped desk for any child who needs space for a computer.
Try to select a desk with drawers for supplies. I love the “elfa kids’ coloring table” from The Container Store because it has several drawers and it can be raised up to standard desk height as a child grows. Complete the workspace setup with a comfortable chair, desk lamp, trash can, and maybe a bulletin board for reminders.
Art or craft supplies are meant to foster fun and creativity so they should be well stocked and easily accessible. Collect all the items that fit into the artistic category and trash anything that is dried up or ruined. I even test out pens and markers to make sure that everything works.
School supplies are also a necessity for students. Either store each child’s supplies somewhere near their workspace or have one general area in the home where all extras are kept. Do a good deed by donating supplies that no one in the household will use.
When it is time to put away the “keepers” use drawers, boxes, bins, office supply trays, or Ziploc bags to separate the items so that everything has a place. Avoid overstuffing containers so that things do not spill out into a huge mess every time the kids pull one thing out. Instead, you can separate them into two or three holders that are easier to manage. Try adding to start teaching your kids where to put things away when they are done.
I especially like art supply caddies for tabletop storage because they are so colorful and have multiple compartments to keep items separated within close reach. Hundreds of options, including the metal magnetic ones from The Land of Nod, came up for sale when I did a Google search.
If the collection of items is on the larger side, you can always add a mobile cart of drawers that come in plastic or metal finishes. A cart can live under the desk, against the wall, or in the closet when not in use. Mobile carts are especially good for children’s paints, glitter, and other messy art supplies where you may supervise their usage.
Goldberg writes that “keeping track of information and paperwork is a life-long skill; the earlier your child learns how to do it the better” (108). In other words, managing papers is something that we all need to pick up, yet it is rarely or never taught in school so it is up to parents to lay the groundwork.
Begin by gathering all the papers belonging to your child and making separate piles to distinguish between blank school paper, blank art paper, completed art or school assignments that are being saved for sentimental reasons, completed school papers such as class notes that are being saved as reference materials, and calendars or team info that is associated with after school activities or clubs.
Recycle unnecessary papers and re-locate any unrelated documents. Place the blank paper near the other supplies and save the memories in an assigned box that is out of the way.
Important papers should be put away for the future. Goldberg recommends setting up a “desktop filing system” for each child by using a ten-inch plastic file box without a lid, ten to twelve hanging files labeled for each school subject and extracurricular activity, and a monthly calendar posted on the front. The purpose is to show kids how to manage their own files beginning early on and going all the way into adulthood.
Now your organizing project for the kids should be complete! Update the system at least once yearly (if not more).
Tatiana is a Miami-based Professional Organizer. Call (305) 502-6391 for appointments and watch her on Lifetime’s “Designing Spaces” (www.designingspaces.tv)