The key to an easy and stress-free back to school transition, is being prepared! Utilize these tips in whatever fashion is best for your family in order to gear up for the upcoming school year!
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Set Goals For The School Year
Setting specific goals for each school year is a fabulous practice to start with your kids at a young age. You can let them pick their goals but also offer up some suggestions you have as well. Their goals could be anything from reading X number of books to getting straight A’s. The best part about this is that you are communicating about the importance of your kids putting in full effort.
For younger kids, a simple goal could be remembering to bring home their “take-home folder” each day. Older elementary kids can set goals such as getting an A on every spelling test or mastering their vocabulary words on the first try. Your high-schooler can get in on the action too! Making a goal to do ALL extra credit assignments offered throughout the year is a great one!
Whatever goals you and your children decide to set, make sure you write them down. Display them somewhere that can serve as a reminder, such as on the fridge or above their desk!
Dedicate (Or Re-dedicate) Their Homework Space
Whether it’s your child’s own desk in their room, a specific corner of the living room, the kitchen table, or a family office, having a “space” for homework is important! By having a special spot that the kids know is where homework happens, they are more likely to feel focused and motivated to work.
Throughout the Summer months, things can tend to get a little off-balance around the house. Most of us are constantly going, from vacations to summer camps and pool days, we tend to let loose of our routines. I’m not sure about your house, but mine tends to collect clutter at a rapid pace in Summer!
Maybe their desk has become a lego construction zone or the kitchen table is now a dumping ground for sunscreen, water guns, and stray goldfish crackers! Whatever your situation is, get those homework spaces ready for the year! Clear off the desk, de-clutter the table, and remind the kids what this space is used for during the school year.
Read At Least 1 Book A Day
There’s a good chance the kids in your family haven’t been spending as much time with their nose in books over the Summer months. During the school year, our kids reading and comprehension skills stay sharp due to the frequency with which they use these skills. Unless you have a major bookworm, there is probably some room for improvement here!
If your kids are still in the learning stage of reading, this is a great opportunity to read short books together. My 6 year old will be starting 1st grade this year so he isn’t quite an independent reader yet. Since he does well on his sight words, I like to pick books at his level and help him to sound out as we go along. If you choose this method, make sure you don’t let the frustration get too high before you take over. We don’t want to enable our kids by always reading TO them but we also don’t want to breed a hate for books! Find the right balance for your reader.
If you have an independent reader, a great way to practice is having them read to you each night before bed. Some families are diligent about continuing these practices over the Summer, which is fabulous! I know in our house, by the time Summer is wrapping up, we are seriously slacking in this department!
Back To School Shopping
Alright, I know, this one is a given, but there is more to it than you think! Of course you’ll need to do the back to school shopping trip with the kids to get their supplies and clothes but it can be a really great experience, if you do it right.
As our kids get older, we need to teach them more independence with every day tasks. As easy as it can be to grab the first 5 notebooks and basic folders you find, it’s not always the best option. Teachers specify how many notebooks, pencils, folders, etc. to buy for back to school shopping. They don’t ALWAYS specify what colors/designs are on them (although, some teachers do give specifics so check your list first)! Letting the kids choose these options is an important way to let them express themselves.
When it comes to back to school clothes, remember what it was like to be their age. I will never forget how mean girls could be growing up if you didn’t have just the right outfit or just the right brand of shoes. Now, I am definitely not saying to teach your kids to be materialistic. The one thing I have learned that applies to EVERY piece of parenting? Balance. Find balance in all things and your life is instantly easier.
Make A Lunch Plan
Hint: Look at the bottom of this post for this FREE lunch planner & idea sheet, designed to make your life easier!
Kids seem to change their preferences on a dime when it comes to just about everything. This definitely holds true for the school lunch situation. If your kids are in a small private school, bringing lunch may be the only option available. If not, there is the life-altering choice between bringing or buying lunches when going back to school.
The reason I like to determine the tone for the year in this department is because I am ALL about planning and being prepared. If they will be buying lunch each day, it’s a great idea to work this into your weekly budget. Most schools have a lunch account of some sort that is electronic these days. This works out great, since you can just add money to it weekly, monthly, or whatever works best. If your kids will be bringing their lunch, it’s a great time to make sure they have a lunch box, freezer packs, thermoses, or any other essential accessories!
Here are some of the lunch boxes/bags I love and recommend:
Bentgo Kids 5 Compartment Leak-Proof Bento-Style Box
Bento style lunches are HUGELY popular with kids and parents alike these days. Sandwiches get incredibly boring, lunchables are somewhat limiting, and variety adds fun! Picky eaters don’t have to be concerned with food touching since each food has it’s own compartment in this style of lunchbox!
YUMBOX 6 Compartment Leak-Proof Lunch Box
The Yumbox is another bento-style lunch box. This one offers 1 extra compartment. The Yumbox also features slightly larger compartments than the Bentgo. Both of these boxes are completely leak-proof and easy to clean!
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Entree Kit
Rubbermaid has created this fantastic lunch system that adds tons of convenience! Everything can be kept completely separated in it’s own containers! These are great when the foods packed are vastly different or for those times you know your kids will need a a different dip for each food you’ve packed!
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag
With the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag, you can do-away with those freezer packs! Give the kids one less thing to tote around with them by turning their lunch bag into their freezer pack. These convenient bags come in multiple styles and sizes and are a great way to keep lunch cold and fresh!
Attend Any Open Houses/Orientations
Going back to school can make the kids nervous, even if it’s not a new school! Meeting a new teacher, having a brand new classroom with a different assortment of kids, all stress-inducing! We like to be prepared and know what to expect to keep the back to school nerves at a low!
Most schools host some type of open house and/or orientation towards the end of Summer before back to school time. This allows parents and students both to meet the teacher, see where their classroom is, and drop off their supplies. It’s a great way for kids to get a feel for a new environment and setting before the first day!
School and Sports Physicals
With Summer comes fun, vacations, relaxing, and distraction! Avoid the hectic times at the doctor’s office by planning ahead.
Along with fall and back to school, comes the school and sports physicals. Doctors tend to get VERY booked up during the first months of school, as parents are racing to get these done. Be ahead of the curve by getting the physicals done before school starts back up. By doing it now, you can try to get the kids in without having to pull them out of school or juggle hectic schedules to make it happen.
Review Last Year’s Struggles
Unless your child is going into their first year of school, you likely have some idea of what to expect. Every family, and each kid, has their own individual struggles. Whether those may come in the form of rushed evenings, too many take-out dinners, forgotten homework, or awful morning routines. We all have areas we can improve on.
By taking a few minutes to sit down and brainstorm last year’s biggest pain points, you can prevent them from reoccurring. Put a plan into place that conquers your biggest hurdles and frees you from them. From planning out clothes for the kids for the week on Sundays, to meal prepping or making once a month freezer meals, there are solutions for anything!
Hopefully you and your family are able to use these tips to get geared up and ready for an amazing school! Above all else, remember, you only have these times with your children once. Attend the talent shows, volunteer for the class parties, help with the bake sale, and make the most of every single moment. Mom life is tough, but I wouldn’t trade the struggles for anything in the world.