How to Plan the First Day of School | Giftie Etcetera: How to Plan the First Day of School

Monday, August 10, 2015

How to Plan the First Day of School

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This is a back-to-school post, but at its heart, this is really a post about using a planner to complete any project.

Back-to-school is just what is weighing on my mind today as my kiddos leave for their first days of 2nd and 4th grade.

Project planning is one reason that I use a ring bound planner instead of a spiral or bound planner. I can have separate pages that let me brainstorm, think about, and organize what needs doing, before scheduling it on my calendar and task lists. If you do use a bound planner, a notebook for projects is essential!

When something needs to happen (usually by a certain date) that requires complex planning, such as several tasks, multiple deadlines, overseeing several people, or anything else that makes only using a calendar or a task list less than feasible, I plan a project.

project planning, productivity, paper planner, back-to-school

I made a new index for project planning this week, as seen in the picture below.

It is exactly the same as my old index system for filing projects, which you can read about here.

However, it was time for a refreshed list of projects, as many of the old ones were completed and scratched out.

Currently, I have the following projects listed (just to give you an idea of what sorts of things are projects):


*Weight Loss
*Medical Log - Epilepsy
*Tasks (This is an ongoing, active list of tasks that are not urgent, but I would like to get to at some point.)
*Medical Log (my active one)
*PTA (for this year)
*First Day of School


TIP: I use OneNote for on-line projects, like legal research for my job, planning a vacation with web page research and checklists for packing, and anything else mostly using the computer.

In my planner, I just use blank or lined paper to make my project plans. (I buy it cheap on-line here.)

What goes on a First Day of School project?

1. Deadlines

Write down a list of your deadlines and tasks. Two of these are particularly important and ALSO go in the meat of your planner immediately, on your monthly or weekly calendar.

*The first deadline goes on your weekly task pages, circled to show that when you complete the task, you need to recopy the next deadline task to your weekly task list.

For example, I might write "order uniforms" as my first task since it needs to be done by mid-July for them to arrive at school.

CAUTION: If you skip this step, you might fail to look at your project pages in a timely manner!

I would put the "buy uniforms" task only on my weekly task list. I would put a highlighter box around it on the project to show it is getting done. And I would circle the task and the large P (for project) that I would write next to it so that I know, once it is done, to copy my NEXT deadline task into my weekly list.

Once done, I highlight the deadline/task completely to mark it out on the project page. I write the next one on the task list - with a P - and circle it. The cycle continues until all tasks are done.

*The second deadline is the big one - the first day of school - and as a really important date, it goes on my monthly calendar in addition to my project pages.

2. Shopping Lists

We order most school supplies from the school, thank goodness (every school should have that service), but I do buy the kids a new pillow each year and a clipboard 
for doing homework during the commute home.

TIP: Writing during the commute doesn't work very well, but our commute is long, so they often go ahead and get math out of the way.

3. Notes

There are lots of things that I want to remember or need details about, such as sizes of uniforms to order. Those things get jotted on the project page.

TIP: Important dates go in the notes, but they ALSO go on the monthly planner pages!

Brainstorming, doodling, or mind-mapping are completely worthy of the notes section of the project.

So what's on my First Day of School project list?

-pay lunch money

-check school calendar and add dates to planner
-inventory uniforms
-buy uniforms
-wash uniforms
-buy backpacks (with note that one kid needs the rolling kind)
-set up launchpads
-contact school about 504 plan
-replace belts/shoes/jacket as needed
-clean epilepsy bracelet
-do PTA cafeteria volunteer e-mail
-make a morning routine checklist for the kids

Check out The Loki using his morning routine checklist (made with a plastic binder zipper pouch, a printout, and a dry erase marker):

morning routine, checklist, erasable, parenting, back-to-school, back to school

What's on your back-to-school project list? Let me and my Loyal Readers know in the comments!


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Unknown said...

good read! My mum was the most unorganised person in the world when it came to "back to school" we always were missing items, running late and our uniforms were sometimes damp! I vowed that I would NEVER do that to my kids!!

however... as life would have it... ive never had to worry about "back to school" stuff as we decided to homeschool haha. So our preparations are a bit different, and far more detailed. I have to make sure I have a schedule, have the terms all planned out and ready etc. Basically, I have the mum job (lunches etc) and also the teachers job (curriculum/education etc) to think about.

I am currently trying to work out a system to put into my planner. I have had a personal sized planner... and love the size for its portability and cuteness, but with homeschooling, I just cant do it. I need to convert to an A5... IF i want to fit it all into one planner with the rest of my life (which I do want to do) so Ive been browsing the internet looking for solutions, ideas, planner setups etc.

At this stage, im looking at various lists such as Field trip ideas, things my kids have asked me to learn about and so on, as well as a timetable setup with weekly subject lessons. It's all a work in progress and it has been a challenge, but like you, I know I NEED to use a 6 ring binder, need the flexibility to add and remove things and so on.

Giftie Etcetera said...

This system should work really well for homeschooling. And if you save the plans from year-to-year, you can make sure your do whatever you need to annually, like selecting a curriculum or end-of-the-year reports to the state (where required).

I can also envision homeschool planning this way. Say, a project page for planning social studies, where you dump ideas and themes as you think of them, list supplies for the week's lessons, etc. (That's kind of what I do with my BLOG project section.)

Jaime Barfield said...

Wish I could have read this back when my children were that small. Now that they are teenagers, the first day of school isn't too bad. I always have them make their shopping lists for needed clothes then put that in the notes section of my planner. The first day of school is always hectic with teacher notes and dates that need to be written down. So, I definitely do that ASAP. I try to get some information at the open house( which is tonight) but some teachers just love to save all of that for the first day of school.

Anna said...

We homeschool, and I only keep things like prep stuff, dates, and things like that in my planner. The rest is either on my computer or in a school binder. Normally, I make all the curriculum plans for the next year in the spring of the previous year. I like to have all my ducks in a row and not procrastinate. This time, we weren't really sure where we were going to be in the fall. We usually start school sometime in August (depending on other things that affect the schedule for the year.) We're starting late this year- sometime in September, and it's going to be really interesting. We leave here Friday for 10 days in the capital, on to the US, visiting family, and driving cross country. Somewhere in there we will start school. (Trying not to hyperventilate!) Things on my list are some of the things I can do now, like registering via e-mail for homeschool in MT, and things that need to be done once we're back in the US, like ordering some additional books, shopping for school supplies, and some last minute decisions. But writing it down, knowing that I have a plan & I'm keeping track of the necessary things does help. :)

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond said...

Great informative post and probably appreciated by all parents with children starting school. It is such an emotional time it is good to have an article like this to help you get through the day smoothly. Thanks for sharing with us at #AnythingGoes

Mary Wimbley said...

Again, you are awesome! Think I'll save this one to Pocket, too. :)

Had I read this sooner, I might not have stayed up so late last night. Fortunately, I did get my kid to bed at a reasonable hour, but filling out forms and making sure he had all his supplies ready to go took a lot longer than I anticipated. Especially since my mind had kinda blanked out on some parts. I'd almost forgotten I'd stashed some of his supplies in my closet for safekeeping! lol It all worked out okay--he was up and ready to go in record time this morning--but yeah. Next year, I'll try to get those forms done and out of the way long before bedtime, and I'll only have ONE place to store his supplies.

As always, I love your tips! And yes, I will be using these to help me with other projects besides back-to-school. You mentioned the C-word...I'm getting started on that today! lol

Whitney Wagner said...

Oh my goodness, I am such a planner too! I don't have a whole lot on our back to school list, because my parents are taking the kids shopping, but we have two meet-the-teacher nights coming up, a couple of school meetings/appointments, phone calls to make, and adjustments to make. I use my planner to keep me straight on everything. Thanks again for linking up on Tips & Tricks Tuesday! :)

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories said...

Love these ideas and your son's codename Loki, that totally fits my youngest son too. I love the bullet journaling system to help keep track of lists. I love reading planner posts and love that you linked up with Small Victories Sunday linkup. Pinned to our linkup board.