Back to School Tips
Posted on August 27 2018
The kids are (finally) going back to school, and we want to make sure that this is their best school year ever! We’ve compiled a few tips to help with back to school preparations so that you don’t forget anything import, and your kids have a great day at school. We’ve had all summer to prepare for this day, yet somehow it still sneaks up on us. Hopefully this blog will remind you of a few essential things you can do to make the transition from summer to schoolyard a success!
Back to School Tips for Parents
When I start to prepare for the kids going back to school I like to envision their first day from start to finish. This helps me think about what we need to prepare for, and what might make them nervous or stressed, and how we can alleviate that stress with some discussion and planning.
When we arrive at school, will they know where to go? This question reminds me that I should discuss with them where their classrooms are, and teach my little guys where the lunch tables and bathrooms are on their new playground. I also think about how I’m going to get three kids to their classrooms, and how my older son will be on his own before school this year, and he needs to know that ahead of time.
I then think about when they get into their classrooms. Are there issues I need to communicate to the teacher before the first day, such as that my child has a stutter and is very shy, or would prefer not to sit next to a child who teased him last year? How to respond to bullies is a big issue in schools these days. Research shows that it's best to teach kids to stop and walk away, and also to help friends walk away from a bully. The next step is to tell the teacher, an administrator, or a counselor.
As a parent, you can always ask for a meeting or email the teacher if you are concerned. You may also be able to prevent some bullying by asking that your child be moved to a different class or requesting supervision on the playground. Sometimes something as simple as moving your child's seat to a new table of friends can help your child feel more happy and secure at school.
Next I think about the end of the school day and how I’m going to pick-up the kids. The after school pick-up on the first day can be extremely chaotic! You want to make sure that you know the rules about when adults are allowed on campus, and whether you will be able to greet kids at their classroom doors, or if they need to meet you at an exit point. You may want to practice walking younger kids from their doors to the exit gate, or have a family meeting spot in case you get separated or can’t find each other. Remind them that they can always ask a teacher for help or go to the office if they are scared or lost.
Our next focus is on our after school schedule and routine. Once we’re all in the car I like to ask them about their day, which gives me a good idea of their current moods and if it was a good day or a bad day. When we get home, each child is responsible for hanging up their backpacks on hooks, bringing me their lunch boxes and school papers, and getting out homework. We usually have a snack next because they’re pretty hungry and thirsty, and it helps lift their moods before homework time.
If I’m being honest, homework time is probably my least favorite part of the day. We tried something new this year and made my oldest son a homework station in his room, since he is now old enough to do most of his work without my supervision. He was so excited to get a desk and organize his school supplies and make it his own space. I really think that it’s going to help him be more productive and less distracted, because he now has everything he needs in one quiet place.
We also made our little guys their own pencil boxes of school supplies to use at home instead of the shared supplies caddy we had been using. The caddy worked well for a long time, but this new system eliminates a lot of fighting over favorite colored pencils and pens because they have everything right in front of them divided fairly into neat little boxes. It also makes cleaning up after homework much more simple and the supplies don't get messy and lost.
School Organization Tips
Back to school organization is a big deal in our house because without tools and structure in place my kids easily get disorganized, and there was a time when papers, lunch boxes, and jackets got lost almost daily. Out of sheer frustration I began searching for school supplies organizers and desperately figured out how to be organized for school.
A big part of this battle happens during the school day, when I’m not there to help. So, I needed to help my kids stay organized in school with the right supplies. I found that binders with zipper covers that closed were really handy for keeping papers and pencils from falling out. We also made sure that my son had a pencil box in his homeroom desk, and a pencil pouch inside of his notebook. That way if he kept forgetting to take his pencil box to math class, he would still have supplies available in his notebook. School planners also help older kids keep track of important assignments and due dates, and a monthly calendar can help teach kids how to plan out their bigger projects.
For my younger kids I found that the school supplies list supplied by their teachers was spot on for what they needed for the first day of school. We make sure to get pencil boxes, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, pencils, erasers and glue sticks in whatever quantities they recommend. I also put a durable pocket folder in my younger kids’ backpacks for their homework packet and unfinished work. This helps us avoid getting a backpack full of crumpled papers with a lunch box sitting on top. This folder along with their at-home pencil boxes and homework stations keep us right on track.
My last homework tip is to make sure that you label everything that goes to school with your last name. We used to use first names, but found that problematic when little brothers wanted to wear hand-me-down jackets from big brother, or my twins mixed up their lunch boxes. We label jackets, lunch boxes, water bottles, retainer cases, pencil boxes…even scissors. This way if my kids do misplace something they usually get it back.
Don't forget to send them back in a unique and super cool outfit they love - one that makes them comfortable and feeling like themselves.
Happy first day of school!!