Is your child’s backpack crammed with papers? Does it require an archeological excavation to find the latest homework assignment? Do you commonly hear the complaint that your child “can’t find anything” in there?

A messy backpack can lead to stress and last minute scrambling on school mornings, which can cause issues like being late for the bus, skipping breakfast and other important tasks, or starting the school day off on the wrong foot. 

Here are three tips for empowering your student to keep their backpack or school bag more organized so that homework and other important items are quickly and easily accessible. 

  1. Find the right backpack. Does your child’s backpack meet their personal needs and preferences? For some students, zippers and pockets might be helpful for organization. Other students might be overwhelmed by multiple compartments. Talk with your child and perhaps their teacher to identify the right backpack style. 
  2. Map the backpack. Involve your child in the organization process. Sit down with him or her and have them draw a backpack “map” that will remind them where each item should be stored. Label each item so it corresponds to the map. Keep a copy of the map in the backpack and maybe do a few organizational “trial runs” by having your child empty the backpack then refill it using the map. 
  3. Have weekly cleaning check-ins. Designate a time each week to clean and reorganize the backpack. Again, involve your child in the process. Perhaps turn the weekly check-in into a game, or implement rewards or incentives for completed check-ins.