Friday, August 16, 2013

Back-to-School Readiness Tips

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close and the new school year is looming, but it is and we should start planning now. Getting a plan in place to ease into the school year can lower stress in those first few weeks. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Paperwork Ready:
Getting back to school often means having paperwork ready for the school in August before the first day. Immunization records are a big one and getting ready now will prevent the last minute scramble. If your child is starting preschool or kindergarten or changing schools there is usually other paperwork that needs to be completed.

Calendar and Schedule:
      Having a centralized calendar or organizer can help keep everyone on time and on task. It’s often not just school that is starting in the fall but sports and activities as well as curriculum nights and school open houses. Most of these may start before the first day of school. A visual reminder, the calendar also is a teachable tool for children.
     Have a place for the weekly schedule, school lunch menus, notes from each classroom and all the other papers that come into the house helps keep everyone organized. A simple file system can work wonders for keeping track of items that need to be returned to school (permission slips, etc.) and items to have in case you need them (school directory, class information, etc.). If you have several students in your home color coding the files can be very helpful.

     I liked to have a colored plastic envelope for each child where we kept documents that didn’t need our immediate attention. A red folder held those items that needed to be signed and returned to school or items that needed to be added to the calendar. Each day a quick look in the red folder let me know what needed immediate action.
     When children got home from school we’d go through their backpack and I’d help them sort out the different items. Homework was set aside and all those other papers where filed appropriately. This was especially helpful when parents came home and could see what needed immediate attention.
     Just a quick note about school plus extracurricular activities - remember to keep balance in the schedule. While some children thrive on a full schedule many other children can become overwhelmed quickly. Keep time for play, relaxation and family time in the schedule.

Inventory Before Shopping:
Before heading out the door to buy new school clothes and shoes check what you already have for the children to see what you really need. Often families get excited about new school clothes only to those outgrown by mid-year.
If you children have school supplies left from last year check to see what's there and can be used this year before heading out the door. Don't forget the school list when you go. Some stores have lists of local schools on site you can't always count on this. Also consider buying bulk items - pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, etc. - to have on hand throughout the year. Take advantage of sales now for items. We knew that poster board, presentation boards and craft supplies would be needed and prices were often lower during the back to school sale - we'd stock up.

Ease Into the School Schedule:
The first day of school is not the time to adjust the family's schedule. Start doing this a few days to several weeks ahead of that first day. This is especially true for children who have a challenge getting up early. This also allows for meal times to be adjusted accordingly. It takes time for the body to get in the swing of things so to avoid stressing everyone out give yourself that time to get back into the rhythm of the school year.

A little planning now will help the transition to the school schedule smoother!

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