Summer break is a little bit shorter for most of us in the Huntsville/Madison area this year. In less than TWO WEEKS we will be setting alarm clocks, packing lunches and preparing to make a new year of memories. Here are a few tips you can start now to help make the transition painless and get the school year off to a successful start! It’s all about establishing good back to school routines.
Hit the Hay
Start getting back on the school-year sleep schedule NOW! Especially if you have late sleepers, you need to start gradually bumping back their bedtime and wake-up time each day. A good rule of thumb is 15 minutes per day. This will help them feel bright and energetic for school as well as ease any bedtime battles that are likely to be waged after weeks of staying up late for summer fun. Make the most of that last week of summer by packing it full of fun, active, TIRING outings so they will be worn out and ready for bed when you start sneaking the bedtime back.
Talk through any fears or concerns your child may be having. Many schools offer a meet & greet time the week before school starts. This is a great opportunity for them to find their way to their classroom, meet their teacher, and gain confidence that will help eliminate first-day fears. If this is your third or fourth kid at the same school and you are tempted to skip because you’ve “been there, done that” – remember that this is for your child, not you!
Prepare now for the onslaught of paperwork and info that comes home the first few weeks of school. Designate a small file box for school correspondence, and use tabbed dividers to indicate what is to be saved for reference and what needs to be returned to school. (RCM will post more about that this Friday!)
Get your little chef involved in meal planning to head-off any cafeteria meltdowns. You can plan together by making a menu, preparing a few recipes, and doing taste-tests before the big day. Especially if this is your child’s first year of school, the fewer surprises the better as they get used to the new school routine. Don’t forget the importance of a healthy breakfast to start their day off strong.
Calm the Clothing Chaos
One great way to prep for the school week is to set clothes out ahead of time. Hanging shoe organizers are a convenient way to store a full week’s worth of clothes in a grab-n-go spot. Just lay a full outfit out, including socks & undies, roll it up, and slide it in. You can label each slot with days of the week, or you can let your child choose each morning. And with a few extra spots in the organizer, you can keep outfits stashed for unseasonably cold/hot weather or dance, gymnastics, sports practices, etc. These also make laundry sorting quicker since the whole outfit will come through the wash together and can just be put back into rotation.
Prepare a quiet space for your child to do his or her homework. A worktable and chair with adequate lighting and no television distractions is best. Head off homework battles by putting out a few special supplies and offering a progress chart where points can be earned toward little treats like fro-yo, mini-golf, etc. for each fuss-free day of homework.
Find a Need & Fill It!
Schools run more smoothly when they have plenty of volunteers. With all the excitement of a new school year it can be tempting to sign up for EVERYTHING on the volunteer list. Don’t. Pick ONE or TWO things that you can commit to and give those jobs the attention they deserve. The one thing your school doesn’t need is someone who signs up for more than they can handle and then flakes out.
Enjoy these special times! Take a few extra minutes that first morning of school to snap some pictures. Leave a little note in your child’s lunch box. Hug them extra tight each morning and let them start each school day knowing that you are proud of them and will be their biggest cheerleader through all their school days.
The mom of three rambunctious redheads, Meg Nester is a Chicago area native and wannabe crafter extraordinaire. When she’s not tending to her boys (and baby girl) or training for triathlons, you can find her in the garage wielding her beloved power tools or firing up a kiln full of enamel jewelry.