Friday, August 14, 2009

Stump the Organizer! Backpack Organization

"What can I do to prevent my daughter's backpack from becoming a cluttered mess?"

The backpack's purpose is to carry study material, homework and extracurricular items to and from school. However, many people - not just students - regard backpacks as a permanent home for things. From this perspective a backpack's design must include many sections and pockets to properly house items and be "organized." Once an item is put in the backpack it is "put away," and nothing else needs to happen to it. The "permanent home" perspective results in a stuffed backpack and things being forgotten. But if you consider backpacks as transition tools, the backpack requirements are much simpler and there will be a greater likelihood for order.

  • Smaller is usually better. The backpack should be just big enough to carry what is needed in the next 24 hours and not the contents of the locker.
  • Keep the design simple. Often two pockets or sections are enough in a backpack. The smaller pocket holds the small stuff like the pencil case and the lunch bag, and the bigger pocket holds the books and binders. Adding more pockets than what is needed will result in items getting lost.
  • Empty daily. Once the contents are out of the backpack it's easy to see what needs to be done and what needs to be put away. As homework is being completed, put it in the backpack. Once at school, put items in the locker and hang up the backpack. If your child has difficulty remembering what to pack in her backpack, attach a small laminated checklist to the backpack with a binder ring.

Dedicating the backpack to transporting items rather than housing them reduces clutter and lightens the load the student must carry. The student's back will thank you. Parents, as a twist read this article again substituting "briefcase" for "backpack" and "office" for "locker."
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