Friday, August 15, 2008


It’s baaack. That’s right, another school year is about to begin. Are you prepared to deal with schedules that accommodate scholastic happenings, sports and other extracurricular activities as well as scheduled health appointments and the fun stuff that goes with living with a family?

If you are one of those folks who never miss sending in a permission slip and who never spend a late night prompting a child to finish an assignment that is due the next day, then you have mastered the art of communicating and scheduling family activities. If, like most of us, you sometimes struggle with getting children to tell you what is coming up in their schedule or coordinating a host of family commitments, here a few hints to improve family communication.

You need to know what is happening. Make it easy for the family to leave papers to be signed, notes about activities and messages from teachers by creating a family mail station. Folder holders, cubbies or even large manila envelopes labeled with family member’s names can be placed at a spot where the family enters the house. Make it a rule to empty backpacks and place the communication in the appropriate “mail slot”. Permission slips and notifications go to Mom or Dad and reminders about dental appointments can go to Jimmy or Jenny. The other rule that needs to be enforced is for each family member to check his mail daily. It only takes a minute and once incorporated into the routine, becomes almost automatic.

Create a master schedule where everyone can see it. Make sure it is down low enough for the youngest family member to see. If children are pre-reading age, you might choose to use symbols to represent school, work, music practice etc. Your family can decide if one person will be responsible for maintaining the master schedule or if each person will enter his own activities. If each person enters his own information, consider making a rule that as soon as someone notices a conflict, he brings it to an adult family member.

Provide a spot to leave messages. You may choose a dry erase board, a magnetic board., black board tiles or a bulletin board. The important thing is that anyone can leave a quick note. “Please turn the oven on at 5:00” or “Tommy is coming over to work on project” or “What a great job picking up the family room!” or “Reminder: pick up milk”

Grouping the mail area, master schedule and a bulletin/dry erase board in an accessible area creates a family communication center that will aid in keeping chaos at bay.

Check out these websites for supplies for you family communication center.

Beverly & Kristen

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