Smart tips for packing your child's backpack

Danielle Fox

Kids tend to accumulate a lot of stuff throughout the year – be sure to clean out their backpack every few months.

Smart tips for packing your child's backpack

This is the school year that you and your kids are going to get organized and stay organized. You really mean it! And we really believe you. That's why we're here to recommend some tips on how to efficiently pack and maintain a backpack. These pointers will help keep your child's backpack from turning into a mobile personal trash can -- and save you from the nightmare of lost permission slips and "missing" report cards.

Tip 1: Invest in a zippered binder.

If a homework item has its own special place -- and your student keeps it there -- he'll never lose it. Kids have multiple assignments to keep track of during the school year, and without a little organization, the backpack can start to look more like a recycling bin than a storage place for learning materials.

For this reason, we recommend opting for a zippered binder with a five-subject notebook. The zipper keeps papers in and debris out, thereby protecting important assignments and other memos. Place dividers in the binder to keep material for each subject in its designated space. This eliminates the "I left my math notebook in my locker" excuse and helps your young scholar feel more prepared each day.

Tip 2: Separate small items with clear pencil cases.

Pencil cases aren't just for pencils. In addition to writing utensils, your student can stash other odds and ends he might need throughout the day -- highlighter, calculator, protractor, art supplies -- inside a transparent pencil case for quick access. Consider buying a second pencil case for electronics supplies he might need during the day, such as a charger, batteries, earbuds, or voice recorder. Pencil cases don't cost much, and two rectangular boxes nestle together rather nicely inside a backpack.

Tip 3: Don't skimp on the water bottle.

As any good teacher will tell you, adequate hydration is one of the keys to learning. After all, you want your child to thirst for knowledge, not water, during the school day. If your child's backpack has a mesh water bottle pocket on the outside, be sure to use it. If the water bottle must be stored inside the pack, make sure you buy a quality product that is leakproof. Otherwise, you may end up with a soggy mess at the end of the day ... and if that soggy mess includes some ruined library books, you'll also likely end up with a fine.

Tip 4: Consider some packing cubes.

If your child needs to bring a separate set of clothing for gym or an after-school activity, keep items organized by investing in a few small packing cubes. Place sneakers in one cube and clothes in another to maintain a clean backpack interior. Packing cubes offer an easy way to separate items you don't want to get damaged, dirty, or lost in a jumble.

Tip 5: Perform regular backpack maintenance.

Make it a Sunday ritual to have your student go through his backpack, dump out any crumbs, and put loose items back into their respective cases. Set a date on the calendar every month or so to have your child go through his binder and recycle any papers that are no longer needed. It will keep him organized and also lighten his load.

Tip 6: Claim a pocket for yourself.

Designate the front pocket of the backpack (or some other specific location) for papers specifically sent to parents: permission slips, school lunch calendars, holiday schedules, and special notices. Make sure your child understands this designation as well. That way, you'll always know where to find important information.

Staying organized as school and extracurriculars pick back up isn't impossible; it just takes a bit of creativity. Let these simple (and affordable) strategies make it easier for you this school year.

Danielle is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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