Back to school sanity saver #6
#6 GET WITH THE PROGRAMME
We live in an era of information overload, you’ve heard this before, but parents in particular are drowning in information, especially if they have more than one child. If you are not organised in the way you access and store information you run the risk of dropping a ball at some stage which doesn’t only have ramifications for you but for your child too.
Everyone has their own system from using noticeboards and magnets on the fridge door to files or using digital technology to keep track of everything. Here are some simple ideas that I find useful. They work for me but I would love to hear if you have any other ideas and systems that you would like to share with other parents.
Many schools have adopted this free software that helps them communicate quickly and easily with parents. If your school has it, do take advantage of the link they send you, download the software immediately and you will always know what’s up at school. It is a quick and easy way for schools to provide maps and directions to an extra-mural fixture or notify you of cancelled matches to due rain, make announcements and provide you with calendar information. I check mine at least twice a day.
Most schools today have a website and many are turning to social media as a way to keep in touch with learners and the parent community. If you haven’t already done so, go and like the school Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, now! And while you are at it connect with the school via WhatsApp at the same time for instant messaging direct to your phone.
I will deal with time management and logistics around family organisation in a separate article, but suffice to say, you do need to keep a diary which includes your stuff and your children’s commitments. Whether you do so on your Smartphone, on some digital calendar on your computer, or in an old-fashioned diary – make sure that as a date crops up that concerns your child, you make a note of it immediately or it will slip through the cracks.
Create a folder in your email with the name of your child’s school and file all related emails in that folder for quick and easy access.
A real file
I prefer using a file than a noticeboard or the fridge door for pieces of paper. I have an old-fashioned file and as circulars come home or I print something school-related from an email etc, I punch it and file it. My file has a general section that relates to both children (if they are at the same school), and then there is a section for each child. We all know this is the school file and it sits right next to my computer for easy access. In the middle of the year and at the end of the year, I go through the file and throw most items out because they are dated, and other bits and bobs such as certificates the kids have been awarded an little affirming notes from teachers and coaches, school reports, school photo’s etc, get shifted to a big lever arch file I have for each child called their Talent Profile.
Talent Profile file
In my book, Future-proof Your Child, we talk about helping your child to create their Talent Profile which is a more colourful, interesting and interactive version of the old-fashioned CV. Ultimately these will be totally digital, but children do love paging through real photo albums and files such as this that are all about them and their journey so far. It can be very affirming and shows them how far they have come. As I increasingly create photo albums online and then have them printed as coffee table books, I go through the Talent Profile files and scan various items for inclusion in the albums.
Whether your school sends home printed newsletters or a link to a downloadable version, read it immediately. Scan read over what doesn’t apply to you or your child and take note of sections that do. Schools try very hard to keep us parents informed, we need to respect that initiative by paying attention. Read!
The bottom line is that as a parent, no matter how busy you are, you need to get with the programme and keep with the programme for your own sanity as well as to role model personal organisation for your children.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to decide how you are going to deal with the mountains of information that will come at you from school this year. How are you going to ensure that you know what is going on and where and how to access information so that you are always on the ball?
As I said at the beginning, there are many other ways to keep tabs on what’s going on. Please share your ideas and solutions on this blog.
Click here to watch my back-to-school television interview on SABCTV3’s Expresso on 14 January 2015.