Switching from the laid-back days of summer to the busy routines of the school year can be a stressful transition for both parents and children, but with a little planning and a positive attitude, it can be a lot easier. Here are a few suggestions to help ease your family into a new school year schedule.
Establish Daily Routines – Enlist the help of the entire family when creating daily routines and you will get a higher committment level from everyone. The more independent your children are with their activities and household chores, the more time there is for fun.
Homework Station – Having a room, cabinet, closet or bin with essential school supplies will make doing homework easier and more enjoyable.
Family Calendar – A central location for the family calendar is an essental back-to-school tool. You can use a paper calendar, oversized dry erase calendar or an on-line calendar. Whatever you use it should be color-coded so each family member is represented by a different color. Include family events, afterschool activities, school programs and days off, volunteer work, school lunches, field trips, work functions and social commitments. Yikes! I am nervous already.
Activity Binder – Create an activity binder with different sections for each activity. Include sections for family memberships as well as the local park district, zoo, YMCA, pool and library. I put 2-3 sheet protectors in each section, so as schedules and flyers come in I can easily slide them into the sheet protectors for future reference. This also helps the kids with independence. When they ask, “When is my next dance class?” I can say, “Check the binder.” Having their own schedules at their fingertips helps ease the stress and creates responsibility.
Get Supplies Early – Getting supplies early takes some pressure off those type-A kiddos and leaves time the last few days of summer for fun. Before shopping for new supplies, check the house to take inventory of what you already have or you will end up with another unused bottle of Elmer’s glue. Send your kids on a treasure hunt through the house for school supplies. The one who can find the most gets to choose what the family eats for dinner.
Backpacks – Designate a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes and make it part of your child’s after-school routine to empty them every day.
Connect with Friends – Schedule a few playdates before the start of school so kids can re-connect with school friends.
Contact Teacher – Take advantage of any opportunities your school provides to get into the school and meet your child’s teacher and school staff. If these opportunities don’t exist, you can research staff on the school website or in a yearbook so your child can at least put a face with the name.
Sleeping and Eating Routines – During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce the school bedtime and regular mealtime schedule.
Daily Reading, Writing and Math – Determine a consistent time each day to get the brain waves going and get your kids back in the habit of doing school work.
Clothes Shopping – Don’t go crazy! Summer clothes are usually fine for early fall. Start with cleaning out your child’s closet and getting rid of anything that does not fit, is out-dated, or your child won’t wear. Then a good pair of shoes and a few new “dress code approved” clothing items should do the trick.
Frozen Dinners – It is very helpful to have a few dinners on hand for those busy back-to-school days.
Clutter Bin – Keep the house clutter-free by having a bin where you can toss everything the kids leave around the house. Make it part of your child’s bedtime routine to clean out the bin every night. You can have one bin for each child or one big bin for all the kids.
Under Bed Bin – Put a large bin under each child’s bed for school work and projects that you want to save.
Complete and return all school paperwork.
Check to make sure kids have all physicals up to date.