Back to school planning: managing school paperwork
One of the first pieces of schooling advice I received from a family friend, who also happens to be a teacher, was: "Always return school notes straight away. The school will love you for it." It took me a long time to actually act on that advice (being a new mum at school is pretty overwhelming) but it's now something I try to make a priority and I vow to be better at every year.
Keeping on top of any paperwork is the key to success, and school paperwork is no different. When you act on school requests immediately, you don't waste time wondering if you handed that note in on time or whether you have paid for that excursion - you'll know you have because you always do it straight away!
It's best to begin the year organised. Gather together and then keep close at hand the items you'll need to process school papers:
pens and highlighters
cash and coins
Take some time to formulate a school paperwork process and then try to stick to it throughout the year. You'll need to consider:
Once you've received you school term planner at the beginning of each school term, photocopy it and put it up in your children's bedroom and on the fridge or a pin board to make sure the kids are keeping an eye on events as well as you. They'll also enjoy crossing off the days to countdown to the holidays.
Also, pin up other papers such as tuck shop price lists so you can see them at a glance on a busy school morning.
Next, go through and highlight the relevant activities from your term planner, then note them in your own planner.
If you need to, enter a corresponding task prior to the event. For instance, if you've entered an event "Easter Hat Parade", enter a task a couple of weeks beforehand to remind the kids to start planning their hats. That way you'll avoid the mad dash to Spotlight the night before.
SCHOOL NEWSLETTER & NOTES
Regardless of whether you receive these digitally or physically, the key is having a process and sticking with it:
Make sure the kids know to either give the school notes to you or put them somewhere - on the kitchen bench, at your desk etc - the moment they get home and unpack their bags.
Choose a time to process the paperwork - it may be as soon as you receive it after school or at night when the kids are in bed and you have more time to focus - but make it a practice to do it that same day.
If you receive a paper newsletter, highlight important items to make it easier when referring back to the newsletter at a later date. Then enter the highlighted items into your planner, along with any associated tasks.
If you need to sign and send notes back to school, choose a process for doing this - you may put it into your child's lunchbox or straight onto the dashboard of the car - so that it won't be forgotten.
If your school still deals with cash, go to the bank at the beginning of every term and get out a bunch of smaller notes and coins. We find these particularly handy for Gold Coin Donation Days and tuck shop treats.
If there are events that other family members might want to attend, send them a quick text or email straight away so they can be prepared too.
Often, you will need to refer back to same papers, such as for an upcoming swimming carnival, so a good place to put these notes would be into the inside cover pocket of your planner.
Finally, put the papers you'll need to refer to again somewhere handy (like the inside pocket of your planner), recycle any papers you don't need and file the rest.
Once you've developed these good habits, school paperwork will be one less thing to worry about.
Happy back to schooling!