Inboxes and Outboxes

It’s T minus 3 days till the beginning of school so it’s time to make sure that we have a better system in place for homework management. And here it is: inboxes and outboxes for both Sophia and I and also her little brother.

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These things are called document holders and they come in packs of three and are stackable. They come with mounting hardware so you can mount them to a wall as we’ve done here. These are mounted just around the corner from our new entrance door where my spouse made us a very handy little mudroomish area with hooks and shelves. All this work in aid of helping Sophia and the rest of the family get organized!

 I decided to get these specifically to address the problem of where completed homework belongs (in Sophia’s outbox) since it was such a problem for her last year, but I think these will come in extremely handy when dealing with all the dozens of forms the children bring home that I have to deal with and send back.

The new boxes make my spouse happy because we have no “reminders” on our fridge anymore (a practise that works pretty well for me but drives him nuts because of the cluttered fridge front). Also, the fact that the clear plastic wall-mounted boxes are frankly pretty ugly isn’t a concern because we’ve put them in the most infrequently-used and smallest room in the house.

So now we just have to form the habit of using the new entrance and new mudroom and the new inboxes and outboxes. Starting Tuesday.

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Small Victories, Small Defeats

So, hot on the heels of my victory regarding using Wunderlist for homework remembering, we had a setback in our quest for an organized life.

There was this homework assignment on Stonehenge that was due on a Monday morning. Everything went really well for the most part: Sophia brought home the right materials, scheduled time early on Saturday to get it done, completed the work, printed it out, all good.

The best part was that because Sophia got an early start, she was able to take as much time as she wanted. She is the kind of kid who wants to inject some personal expression into every assignment, but often this isn’t possible because she’s in a rush. Starting early allowed her to do the assignment exactly as she wished, and she had the luxury of taking twice as long to complete it as she had originally estimated. Happiness.

Until Monday morning at 8:10am when it was time to go to school and the completed assignment was nowhere to be found.

Where was it last seen?  Dining room table. Who cleaned off the dining room table? My spouse. Where is he now? At the office. A phone call revealed this: “I handed it to Sophia in her room last night.”  The room in question is so messy that I feel like doing this:

Comic snagged from xkcd

Sophia provided options, which was a very rational thing to do, but I was too annoyed to appreciate the rationality at the time. The options (aside from tearing apart the bedroom to find the missing assignment, which is what I thought we should do) were

a) re-print the assignment, or

b) email the assignment to herself and print it off at school.

Both options required finding a laptop and a power supply and booting up the laptop and doing stuff. This was not appealing but it is what she ended up doing.

That was a discouraging morning. The whole point of getting organized was to avoid situations like that one. So clearly we are not THERE yet. The thing about homework is that there are so many more ways to fail than meet the eye. It’s not really about doing the homework. It’s about being organized, following through, sticking to a plan, developing discipline.

The solution, I think, is for us to define a specific physical location where all completed homework goes.  “On the dining room table” is not good enough. Even “on Sophia’s desk” won’t cut it because inevitably things get piled on top of said desk. What is needed is a clearly visible, non-mobile outbox. We’ll try this at the beginning of grade eight, a mere  62 days away.