Back to school tips for all families

| August 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

School BookBack-to-school sales are everywhere, yet all parents know that getting your kids ready to go back to school is a process that doesn’t end when you have all required school supplies.

WebMD offers these tips for getting your kids ready to go back to school. Even though you’ve heard these tips before, it’s always good to reconsider them before every school year. As your children change, how you apply these tips change with them.

1. Re-Establish School Routines

This is a hard one for children. It’s easy to get into the summer routine of sleeping late and having unstructured days. We start to re-establish a school bedtime a few days before school started. Other school routines, like putting clothes out the night before and getting everything that needs to go to school on the launch pad, are a bit easier to practice throughout summer as kids have different activities and camps.

2. Nurture Independence

No matter how young your child, he/she can gain control over his/her activities with a little independence. When our girls were really young we’d ask them to pick-out clothes or get stuff together. WebMD reminds parents to “get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder.” The reminder to talk to your kids ahead of time is important. Too often a grown-ups schedule doesn’t allow kids enough time to process and adjust.

3. Create a Launch Pad

This is a topic in every parenting article, isn’t it? WebMD says, “at home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.” We don’t have a formal mudroom, but we created a drop zone in our family room where everything ends up. We use that space to put all the stuff that needs to go to school every evening. In the winter we even have the hat/scarves/boots in the drop zone. The only thing not there is the lunchbox, which we keep next to the refrigerator.

4. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

In our family the girls come home, get a snack and eat while doing their homework. Nothing fun happens until their homework is done. It has been that way since they were in first grade. They used to fight us about doing their homework immediately, but now it’s just part of their day. Everyone’s routine is different, but setting expectations and consistency is key.

5. After-School Plans

WebMD uses this to remind people that “school gets out before most working parents get home, so it’s important to figure out where your children will go, or who will be at home, in the afternoons.”

I’d use this heading to also consider after-school activities. There’s a lot of talk about overscheduled kids and the stress children feel. We all want our children to have every advantage, but it’s important for your kids to have a balance of fun and free time after school. How that looks for each family will depend upon that family’s priorities. And, it’s important to remember this line from a CNN article called Overscheduled Kids, Hurried Parents, As adults, your kids are going to tell their therapists, ‘Oh my parents never let me play piano,’ or some other activity. It’s going to happen. Being able to tolerate that is really important.”

6. Make a Sick-Day Game Plan

This is all about having a back-up plan. We’ve all had days when we just cross our fingers and hope that the school nurse doesn’t dial our number. It could be that the car is in for repairs or you have a lengthy dentist appointment. WebMD reminds us “before school begins, line up a trusted babysitter or group of parents that can pinch hit for each other when children get sick. And make sure you know the school’s policy.” The last part is important. In our school district, you can’t take home someone else’s child without a note from that parent. I’ve called the school to let them know that someone else will be bringing home our girls and sent a note. You need to know your school’s policy before you need it.

7. Attend Orientations to Meet and Greet

I’m always amazed at people who don’t go to parent orientation. Parents/guardians need to meet their children’s teachers before there is a problem. We walk around the school saying hello to previous teachers, visiting the librarian, walking by the library, etc. Everyone who sees your child at school should know you.

8. Talk to the Teachers

This is hard for some parents. Too many parents still see the teachers as authority figures – a hangover from their school days. Here’s what WebMd suggests “when you talk to your child’s teachers, ask about their approach to homework. Some teachers assign homework so kids can practice new skills while others focus on the accuracy of the assignments they turn in. Ask for the dates of tests and large assignments so you can help your child plan accordingly.” We make it a point to ask questions during parent orientation and get the teacher’s email address. The advice to “talk” to teachers doesn’t always mean picking up the phone. It’s really about communicating.

9. Make it a Family Affair

We take school seriously in our house. Our daughters know that education is their job. We talk a lot about why it’s important to get good grades. We tell them that high school students with good grades get to pick their colleges. Those students without good grades have more limited options. We want them to understand the long-term view of grades so they know why we worry about their third grade math score.

We also let them know we’re in this together. When one of our girls struggled with time measurement, we spent countless hours finding worksheets and doing them together. It took two full years before she really understood the concept. I’m not saying we weren’t frustrated. We just made a commitment to muddle through it together and we did.

 

Shari writes about life with her tween twin daughters at Two Times The Fun. Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos.

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About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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