Don’t the summers always fly by? Maybe it’s difficult to believe that the time for going back to school is already approaching. This year’s school season may seem a bit trickier than usual considering some added stressors. Some kids and parents are feeling anxious about returning to classrooms following at-home learning during the pandemic. And then there’s the rampant inflation causing prices on everything from gas to groceries to skyrocket. What’s a parent to do?
Despite these issues, you can get through it. With a little advance preparation, you can be sure you’re ready for a smooth transition from pool parties and picnics to homework and Halloween costumes. The trick is to start early and make a checklist of to-dos (and to-buys) so that you’re well-prepped for a productive year ahead.When you take the time to check in with kids before the school year begins, they will ideally feel more comfortable coming to you with issues if and when they arise. Click To Tweet
Here are 7 ideas I use that can help you get started and set up your entire family for a successful school season.
With parents juggling work and driving duties as the kids balance their school studies, social lives, and extracurricular activities, it’s a good idea to get everyone on the same page—literally. Make a central calendar and place it in an easy-to-see and easy-to-reach area of the home, like in the kitchen. Encourage all family members to add their appointments, important deadlines, and to-dos to the list so that everyone can avoid scheduling conflicts. Also obtain a list of any important holidays and other days off that will take place throughout the school year so that you can plan ahead. Tip: Use an eraser board if plans tend to change frequently in your household! They certainly do in mine!
Check Off Checkups
Ensure that the family’s medical needs are taken care of before the start of the school year. Are all prescriptions filled (and, when applicable, shared with the school administration)? Are all checkups completed, including dental cleanings and vision tests? Are eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions current so that the kids can perform their best in school? Finally, outside of the doctors’ offices, you can also schedule and complete any other ongoing appointments, such as haircuts.
Arrange the Logistics
How will the kids be getting to and from school? Whether they’re walking, biking, or busing, do some trial runs from door to door and plan out what time it’ll be necessary to leave in order to arrive on time. If child care is needed for after school, coordinate that schedule as well, and, if possible, tour the school and meet your child’s teachers so you and your child get a sense of the layout and expectations. You may also be able to obtain a list of things to purchase, such as school supplies. Organize backpacks before the start of the year so that everything has its place, and make sure children and the school know how to reach you in case of emergencies.
With inflation causing price increases, shopping may be more challenging this year. Identify the school supplies your child absolutely must have and search out deals and sales or consider buying used or refurbished items if possible. If your child has been doing online learning for some time and is returning to the classroom, they may be due for some new clothing and/or shoes, especially if they’ve outgrown their wardrobe. (Some schools have dress codes or uniforms, so make sure those guidelines are understood before shopping.) Check the condition of backpacks and lunchboxes; if they need a refresh, add them to the shopping list. To save money, consider hosting a swap party where parents bring their kids’ used items, and you can trade for things that will be “new” to your child. If applicable, determine what equipment or special attire will be needed for any school sports in the fall. Depending on the climate where you live, you might move summery clothes and shoes to storage, or at least organize seasonal clothes, closets, and storage space for easy moving later in the season.
In addition to shopping for clothes and shoes, you’ll need the ingredients for healthy meals on hand. Secure items for easy-to-pack and healthy lunches, convenient breakfasts, snacks for after school, and family dinners to create bonding time. It’s a great idea to put some favorite meals into rotation and prep ahead for the first week of school, to ease the transition to hectic mornings. You can also buy (in bulk, if you prefer) supplies that will be needed throughout the year—nonperishables like napkins or water bottles, for example. And, if you haven’t already, take this opportunity to enforce some healthy eating habits (such as not eating in front of the television) to encourage better routines.
If bedtimes have crept later over the longer days of summer, get the kids back on a school-friendly sleep schedule well before classes start, to get them acclimated. Start them going to bed early again and set consistent alarms for wake-up times. You can also encourage better sleep hygiene for your children by enforcing habits like turning off electronics one hour before bedtime, and creating a consistent bedtime ritual that gets them in the mood to snooze. And get your schedule on track, too—it’s important to create your own sleep rituals so you also feel well-rested when it’s time to get the kids off to school in the morning!
Check in With Your Children
Before school starts, sit down with your child and talk about the year ahead. Do they have any goals for the school year—perhaps improving their math grades or reading more books outside of the classroom? Are there any extracurricular activities they might want to try for the first time? Do they have any concerns about school dangers, such as gun violence or bullying? Are they feeling stressed or anxious about being in the classroom after doing online learning during the pandemic? Are they having trouble focusing, or do they need some special assistance in their classes? When you take the time to check in with kids before the school year begins, they will ideally feel more comfortable coming to you with issues if and when they arise. Being an involved and open parent is a great way to foster better communication and relationships among all family members.
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