When kids come home from school, they bring a slew of paperwork: artwork, notes from the teachers, and homework. With a little help from parents, students in kindergarten through second grade can develop good habits that will help keep after-school organization manageable.

1. A Place for Everything

Where should your child's backpack be placed when they come through the door? Do you want the papers laid on a countertop in the kitchen, or in a basket on the coffee table? Decide what works for you and your child, and make it part of the routine every afternoon.

2. Get Through Paperwork Right Away

Primary students (hopefully) don't have much homework. Have them do it while you help them, then sign field trip papers, check notes, and read the teacher's newsletter. When you're finished, immediately put everything in the backpack. This way, it's all ready for the next day and off of your mind for the evening.

3. Make It a Fun Quality Time

Go over papers while having an after-school snack together. If you have younger kids, feed them a snack and let them get involved in the conversation. If it's too distracting to have the younger children around, see if using that as a quiet time for them works for your schedule.

4. Give Them Responsibility

If your child takes a lunch to school, have them empty out their lunchbox, putting containers in the appropriate place (dishwasher, sink, etc), then put the lunch box back where it goes. Establishing this habit takes one less chore off your mind, as the lunchbox is cleaned out and ready to be packed for the next day.

5. Make Packed Lunches Ahead of Time

Chop vegetables, divide crackers among small containers or zipper storage bags, and separate fruits — storing them in the refrigerator. Having several days' worth of lunch side items makes the daily job of putting a lunch together much less of a chore. Add leftovers from supper to the items to save even more time. And while you're at it, get cold lunches packed and stored in the refrigerator before you go to bed.

6. Get Things Ready the Night Before

Set backpacks by the door or in the car, with papers and folders inside. If possible, make or put together lunches immediately after supper. Make sure clothes are picked out for the next day.

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