I know what you’re thinking. All kids are messy. Indeed, they are. I’m talking about kids who swim in the deep end of messy—kids who, despite their best efforts, are disorganized, sloppy, forgetful, oblivious of systems, and generally unaware of and uninterested in the condition of their stuff. I’m the parent of such a child, and I can tell you from experience, school is a stumbling block.

Whether your kid has an underlying learning or attention issue (mine does!) or he comes by his penchant for chaos honestly, an especially messy kid will struggle without the proper equipment. Here are seven school supply shopping tips to give your messy kid a tidy start to the school year.

1. Don’t be swayed by the 3 for $1 notebook sale. Those notebooks have flimsy paper covers that bend and rip easily.

2. Buy notebooks with a plastic cover. They’ll cost more, but they’ll last. The same goes for folders and divider tabs. Make sure they’re plastic or laminated.

3. If your child is old enough to require a binder, buy reinforced filler paper. It has a strong, clear tape along the left edge to support the holes and resist tearing.

4. Speaking of binders, size up. It’s amazing how much stuff kids can cram inside a binder, and if you have a child who rarely never sorts through papers, a 1-inch binder will burst at the seams quickly. Go for the 1 ½- or 2-inch size. There’s no correlation between using “college ruled” paper and future success.

5. If your kid has messy handwriting and would benefit from having more space between lines, buy “wide ruled” paper and notebooks. If your kid makes careless mistakes in math due to messy handwriting, buy ½-inch ruled graph paper. Lining up numbers on graph paper lessens the chance of errors due to disarray.

6. Get a zipper pocket or pouch that can be inserted in a binder or placed in a backpack. This is a clean, safe place for index cards, flash cards, and other small but important papers that would otherwise end up crumpled or lost.

7. Purchase or give your kid access to an e-reader so you can download ebooks when he conveniently forgets to bring his reading assignments home from school. Plus, you can adjust the font size and st‌yle and enable audio features, which is helpful for kids with reading challenges.

These shopping tips aren’t going to magically transform your kid from messy to neat overnight, but they’ll give your kid a clean, organized start to the new school year.

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