With summer winding down and the new school year approaching, its time to start thinking about making the transition from summer fun to a more structured home environment before school starts.
Include me into the pool of parents who find this time of year challenging and need some extra help getting things back to normal. I find myself struggling with trying to convert to the previous schedule and getting my kiddos wanting to do the same.
Last week I attended OfficeMax’s “Back-to-School Sanity Savers” web event starring parenting expert Annie Pleshette Murphy from Good Morning America and Parents magazine. Annie provided some great tips and tricks on getting your family prepared and your kids ready to head back to class without a hitch.
If you don’t want to loose your sanity while making the difficult conversion, try Annie’s practical advice given below or check out the 30 minute Sanity Savers video provided by OfficeMax by clicking here!
1. Roll back your child’s bedtime in 10-15 minute increments leading up to the first day of school, so they’re in the habit of going to bed and waking up earlier!
2. Schedule a nightly “Family Quiet Hour” to avoid the evening “witching hour” when homework time can be particularly challenging. During quiet hour, the entire family should turn off the TV and literally do something quiet. For kids, they can do homework or read. For parents, this is a great time to pay bills, read, do a puzzle with the kids, etc. This hour builds good work habits and also helps you connect as a family in ways that TV just can’t.
3. Kick first day anxieties your child may experience by trying to meet the teacher or a few kids in your child’s class before school starts. There’s nothing like having a few familiar faces to ease first-day jitters. And if it’s the first day of first grade or a new school, definitely do a dry run by walking or driving them to see the building.
4. Engage your child in the back-to-school process! Sit down with your child, read the school materials and fill them out together. Talk about his/her teacher, the room number, school supply list, and any after school activities. Most importantly, remember if you model calm, collected behavior, your kids will be far more relaxed as school approaches.
5. Setup a family calendar in a central location that EVERYONE can view. Color-code activities for each child and mark important dates for school on the calendar. Find out ahead of time what your child will be participating in and keep an eye out for conflicts. For the first week of school, don’t make any plans, so you can adjust as a family. And don’t forget to schedule down time as a family and a regular date night for mom and dad!
6. Create a Parent/Kid station. A clever, easy solution to morning madness is to designate an area near the door or place you walk by every day where you can set up a central station for everyone’s necessities. The idea is to have space and easy access to all the things you don’t want to leave behind. The parent’s station could include a space for house keys, spare change, cell phone charger, and inbox/outbox for your child’s school forms. The kids’ station should include a place for their sports equipment, lunch box, snacks, backpack, etc.
7. Buy school supplies early and let your child select items that reflect his/her personality. New school supplies can make the back-to-school process fun and exciting. Let your child choose items that reflect their taste and personality. When it comes to the almightily backpack, look for wide padded straps and padded back. Teach your child to pack the heavy items at the back of their bag to prevent shoulder strain. And remember, you’re child’s backpack should not way more than 10-20% of their body weight.
8. Create savvy shoppers by engaging your child in the school supply shopping experience. If you’re child is old enough, arm them with a calculator, list and budget and do the shopping together, considering the available funds. Explain that they can spend a lot on one special item – like a new backpack – but that they will then need to buy plain pencils or use last year’s binders. You can also teach kids that private brands like OfficeMax’s Schoolio product line are a great way to save on supplies while still getting fun designs and patterns.
9. Involved parents equals good, happy students. Several studies show that children whose parents are involved in their education do better academically and socially. Open the lines of communication as soon as you receive your child’s classroom assignment. Most teachers are accessible by email, so a quick note expressing your hope for a great year, eagerness to meet the teacher and willingness to volunteer in the classroom is a nice gesture.
10. Stay engaged in your child’s class throughout the year. Create a weekly report card that addressed your child’s specific challenges. For example, list 3-4 questions on an index card: Is my child keeping up with the reading? Getting homework in on time? Participating in class? Yes/No questions are best. Needless to say, having to hand the teacher a card is a good incentive for your child to connect with his/her teacher and a nice way for you to stay updated on your child’s progress.