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Cereal BoxesKids love cereal (and I must admit, I do too). School is in full force and everyone is looking for places to stash all those school papers, bills, catalogs, and schedules. Here’s a fun and creative way to make use of the empty cereal boxes. Get the kids involved in reusing the boxes to make handy holders for their desk and yours. Kids can let their imaginations run wild by decorating the outside of the box with decorative tissue paper, wrapping paper, markers, stickers, and fabric for a more tailored look. The larger cereal boxes work best for storing books and folders. The smaller boxes are great for keeping smaller odds and ends contained. For the safety of the child, adults need to cut the box with a utility knife at the desired angle and height. Wrap the decorative paper or fabric around the box to see how much is needed. Then unwrap, cut and secure the paper or fabric to the box with double-sided tape or glue. Trim the excess paper/fabric with scissors.

Take a moment to leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas!

For more tips and tricks for organizing your home or office, sign up to gain access to Grace Brooke’s ‘Organizer’s Tool Bag’.


young-boy-gradHigh-achieving students don’t forget when a report is due or arrive at an advanced math class without a calculator. These kids have learned the benefits and importance of having good organizational and time-management skills. Through trial and error, they have also learned what study habits work best for them.

These students, with their parents’ and/or a professional’s help, have unlocked the secrets to being super-motivated, enjoy studying, and know how to get results.

Here are 6 steps a parent can take to increase their child’s academic success and self-confidence.

Step 1: Homework Station

Children need a desk-like area designated for studying. This area should be comfortable, inspiring, organized with supplies within arm reach, and away from any distractions. However, still central to a parent so the child can be monitored if he/she has questions or needs help staying on task. Consider having this homework station located in the home office, living room, or guest room. A child may be too tempted to play with toys, get distracted by other family member’s conversations, or turn on the TV if studying in their room, family room, or kitchen.

According to Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, says that “if kids are texting or their siblings are talking to them, they’re not devoting their full attention to learning, so they learn less. When kids know this, they’re more motivated; they think, Uh-oh, if I’m not in a quiet place, I won’t learn as well. Having the proper learning environment for your child is crucial.”

Step 2: Fully Stocked

Eliminate reasons and excuses for a child to procrastinate by having the homework station fully stocked with study materials, pencils, pens, sharpener, scissors, tape, calculator, dictionary, and other needed supplies. Consider having a side table or rolling cart stocked with healthy snacks and water to keep the brain charged and running efficiently. The working surface should be cleared of all clutter and provide ample space for open books and binders.

Step 3: Tune In

Some children enjoy listening to music or watching TV while studying, but parents need to consider their child’s learning style and the type of media he/she is tuning in to. Parents who enforce distraction free work are on the right track. According to three recent studies, spending too much time watching TV diminishes kids’ ability to learn, their academic success, and even their chances of graduating from college. Depending on your child’s learning style and if they insist on having something on, choose songs without words such as soothing, classical music.

Step 4: Choosing a Time

When determining the best time to do homework, consider your schedule and your child’s temperament and personality. Some children need a break when getting home from school, while others lose steam if they don’t do their assignments right away. Experiment with different times to do homework and see where you have the greatest success. Once the study time has been determined, create a consistent routine based on what works best for your child.

Step 5: Make Learning Fun

Try to avoid saying statements like, ‘Let’s get your homework out of the way so you can play’. Children tend to see academics as a negative experience and as a chore. Instead, value their schoolwork and present it as an endeavor that sparks your curiosity. Have conversations about their school work and your work projects.

Be sure to encourage the lighter side of learning by playing educational and word games, along with doing jigsaw puzzles and playing Monopoly. Give your child the freedom to choose when to do leisure reading. When kids are doing something they enjoy they retain more information.

Step 6: Managing Time and Assignments

Having and using a planner is one habit most high achievers swear by. Just like adults, children should get into the habit of writing down important dates, assignments, and other tasks that need to be completed. Planners visually organize information for students, so they can see when papers are due, when tests will be taken, and when the next big game is scheduled.

Encourage children to take on the responsibility of beginning and completing homework by creating a system such as a checklist. When a child starts receiving long-term projects, help he/she map out the work by using their calendar so he/she learns good time management and organizational skills. Break down large projects into smaller steps/tasks and assign a specific day to take action on them. Using a checklist will help the child and the parent to make sure he/she is staying on track.

Children are overwhelmed with information and after school activities these days. It is imperative a child has one calendar to managing their school work, personal life, and home life. To ensure academic success, make sure children have time to chill-out and unwind each week so they can de-stress and use their imagination. By getting children into the habit of scheduling free time for hobbies and to play with friends, children learn that life isn’t just about work. It is about having fun, building relationships, and enjoying oneself.

When decorating and organizing a child’s bedroom or play room, efficient storage plays a key role in how well a space works and should be a goal when planning it’s layout. Consider your budget, physical layout, and the age of the child. Use storage pieces and other furnishings that can grow with your child (i.e. stackable drawers, wall-hung shelves, rolling cart). A good example would be the use of a toy chest. The toy chest offers storage for stuffed animals, games, and blocks when a child is of toddler age. However, that same toy chest can be converted into a place to store files, books, and other school supplies during high school years.

When creating systems and bringing order to a child’s bedroom or play area, follow this guide to determine the appropriate height for tables, chairs, and shelving. Children enjoy their rooms more when they can sit and play comfortably at a table or desk, and when many of their belongings are at eye level or within easy reach.

This chart, which contains average measurements, will help in creating a safe, livable, and self-suffient environment for a child, from toddler to teen. By following it, you’ll make it easier for the child to develop the habit of putting things in their place. This will also make life easier on the parent and decrease the amount of times the parents has to say, “Pick up your toys!”

Age Height Eye Level High Reach Table Height Chair Height
3 37 33 41 15 8
5 39-47 35-43 43-52 18 10
7 44-52 40-48 49-59 19 11
9 47-57 43-53 53-65 21 12
12 53-64 49-60 61-73 23 13
15 61-71 57-66 70-82 26 15




Why not? Children can write, illustrate, and publish their own storybook at Tikatok! It is free to register and create a book; ordering printed copies will cost about $15 – $20.

Parents, you can create one too!! Stories can be shared online and participate in book clubs at no cost.

What a great way to document family vacations and holidays. How about giving your collection of personal journals/diaries a professional look and publish them?

See how it works…click here.

Toys! Where do you put all of them? That is a question I get asked often. My first suggestion is to NOT use a toy chest. I have found them to be ‘blackholes’ for toys. If your child wants a specific toy, he/she either can’t find it in the ‘blackhole’ or they have to pull EVERYTHING out because it is located at the bottom of the chest.

bushel-box2Here is a simple, DIY alternative to storing toys in a toy chest. Get a handful of wooden boxes (like the wooden apple box in the photo…they can be purchased for very little or you may be lucky and find someone giving them away) and mount 4 casters/rollers to the underside four corners of the box.

If you prefer the distressed look, leave them as is. Otherwise, consider painting the boxes in the same color scheme as the room or use chalk board paint. Using chalk board paint makes labeling the boxes a breeze. Just write what belongs in the box with chalk! This way the toys can be switched out at anytime and quickly labeled with the new information. The children can add their own art work as well.

Due to the smaller size of the wooden boxes, toys can be sorted by type (books, dolls, cars, Little People, blocks, etc.) and they won’t get lost as easily. These boxes can be rolled into another room to be played with or rolled out of sight and out of the way. (As a young child, I would of had fun using the box on wheels as a little go-cart… Didn’t the Little Rascals have something like this?)

It is a simple project and could add some charm to any playroom!

The holidays can be an overwhelming time for children and parents. Here are 5 tips that will help you control the chaos and manage the abundance of gifts.

Tip #1 Number of Gifts – Depends on Child’s Age
Base the number of gifts that your child receives on their age. When the child gets to the age of 10, consider limiting the number of gifts at this point. Children get overwhelmed very easily and can lose interest quickly. This simple rule also helps ward off the “he got more than me” sibling rivalry wars. Use this time to help children understand that less can be more. The more stuff one has, the more responsibilities (taking care of the items, keeping track of their location, one more thing to put away, etc.) one has. Setting limits and creating simplicity are wonderful gifts to teach children early in life.

Tip #2 Buy Gift Cards
Buying children gift cards is a great way to manage holiday gifts. Children of all ages can enjoy this gift. With a gift card, the child has the opportunity to purchase what they want and learn a little about budgeting at the same time. Family and friends can pitch in on one card, such as a VISA gift card, which can be used at various locations. No more long waits in the return line!

Tip #3 Give Them an Experience
Instead of filling up a child’s bedroom and playroom with more toys, give the child the gift of an experience. Take a child to their favorite theme park, to see their favorite band in concert, to a musical on Broadway, or on a mini vacation. Spending quality time with the child is a wonderful, fulfilling gift in itself. Together, you will be making memories which will last a lifetime…much longer than any toy.

Tip #4 Divide the Toys
If a child is bombarded with lots of toys over the holidays, take a moment to divide the toys up into three or four boxes. Leave one box out to be played with and assign a location for each item. The other boxes can be stored in a closet for future use. Bring a new supply of toys out on a monthly basis. The child will feel as though it is Christmas for months and months! Alert the child to the need of letting go of toys that are not being played with or that do not bring them joy any longer when a new box of toys is delivered.

Tip #5 Consider a Trade In
Give a child the opportunity to ‘trade in’ some of their gifts by returning them with the gift receipt and getting cash for a big ticket item the child is working to obtain. Another option is to have the child gather three to four new toys and take them to a place where they can donate them to children that didn’t receive much (if anything!) for the holidays. This is a great time to teach a child about giving to others who are less fortunate. The child will experience the joy and warm feelings of helping others…a priceless gift!

Are you overwhelmed with the amount of toys your child has? Do you constantly trip or slip on them? Is your child over stimulated?

If so, it may be time to tame the toys! A great tip for helping with this issue is to rotate toys. Gather 2 – 3 bins of toys and put them away in a closet or the garage for a couple months. After the two months, pull the 2 -3 bins out and swap them with another 2 – 3 bins full of toys. Your child will be happy to see them again and enjoy playing once again. It also helps to control the amount of toys that are kept in the playroom or bedroom, leaving room for each toy to have an assigned space.Make sure to purge toys on a regular basis (once every three to six months). A good time to do this is right before a birthday or Christmas. Get your child involved. Remind your child that together, you will decide what stays and what goes, making room for their new toys.

Sort toys into clear bins and make sure to label them. Labels with pictures work well for little ones that can not read. Label shelves, bins, and boxes in a large, clear to read font. Remember to keep like with like and categorize by colors, shapes, and/or sizes. This is a great learning exercise for preschoolers and kindergartners!

Parents, we want the best for our children, right? We want them to grow up successful, happy, productive, and confident, right?
Scholastic success is closely linked to good organizational and time-management skills. According to John Stamm, Ph.D., and Bill Stockton, School Psychologist, in their report Psych Savvy: Children and Organizational Skills (1993), “School failure and unhappiness in the school can be often traced to poor organizational skills.” Evidence shows that children having trouble “dramatically improved their school performance because of assistance in becoming better organized.”

Good organizational and time-management skills contribute to a child’s confidence, happiness, independence and better behavior. Children benefit from having order in their lives. Organization is a skill that needs to be developed and nurtured. With guidance, motivation, and consistency, a parent can set the foundation for a successful outcome. Whether a parent takes this challenge on themselves or turns to a professional for help, it is important to remember that a child will experience a few bumps in the road. Learning these skills are like learning any other. It is a journey just as it is a destination.

The best time for a child to begin learning these skills is as early as the age of two. They have been playing with toys for months and beginning to communicate more. Toddlers and preschoolers have the ability to absorb information at an incredible speed. Take advantage of this opportunity and begin showing children how to purge, sort, and categorize. Get your child involved in the process and allow them to make choices and decisions. This is a great confidence builder! Children are more likely to stick to a system that they are involved in than one that is just told to them.

Your toddler and preschool will learn about managing time through routines and structure in their daily schedule. Have specific times blocked for bath time, clean-up, reading, resting, and homework. Children benefit from having a schedule they can count on. Informing your child they have 10 more minutes (and then 5 minutes) of play time will help them to mentally prepare as well as plan for clean-up time. This is one way a child begins to ‘manage time’.

In the end, children learn so much by modeling our behavior. If you struggle with organizational challenges, consider contacting a professional for some guidance and support.

Visit Rasing Organized Children for more information.

A creative and cleaver way to store your child’s artwork, school work, and other scrapbook type keepsakes is to place them in a pizza box (unused!). Your child could have a pizza box filled with memories for each year they attended school. The boxes can be easily stacked one on another in a closet or under a bed. Your child could create a collage of all their favorite things that year to cover the box. This is a great idea…simple and creative!

A simple and efficient way to keep important contacts and other information pertaining to your child is to have an Emergency Information Card. I keep these cards in my purse, diaper bag, older child’s backpack, and give one to each grandparent. A card is given to the child’s school teacher, a parent at a play-date, the parent of a child having a birthday party, and/or daycare provider. They can be placed on the refrigerator, bulletin board, or near the phone for quick and easy viewing.

This Emergency Information Card is 2″X 3.5″ and can be made on your personal computer with blank, store-bought business card stock.

Each card has the following information:

  • Child’s name
  • Parent’s names and work/cell phone numbers
  • Emergency contact names and numbers (other than the parents – I have all the grandparents numbers listed on my children’s cards)
  • Doctor’s name, address, and phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Any allergies

The beauty of creating your own card is that it can be customized to meet your child’s needs. List any information you think someone would need to know if your child is hurt or in danger. If any of the information changes, you can conveniently make changes on your computer and print out new cards.

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