The back-to-school countdown is on! It fills lots of parents with dread – not so much because they’ll miss their babies, but because the to-do list is daunting. The switch from a loosely scheduled summer to a regimented fall can send some kids (and parents) into a tailspin.
I found that a giant calendar, an occasional reminder from my spouse, and lists kept me on track. If my girls and I did a little bit of preparation every day and made tasks fun and team-oriented, everyone was less likely to get overwhelmed. Perhaps some of the following tips will help with your back-to-school transition.
- Adjust your child’s bedtime. If you have been lax about when your child hits the sack this summer, start moving bedtime toward your school year schedule. Make changes gradually, getting him up sooner and tucked into bed earlier at night. Sweeten the deal with some extra bedtime stories from Big Universe’s online selections.
- Get school supplies now before the last-minute rush. Many teachers provide an online list of suggested school supplies. A nearby office supply store even posts these lists at its store and pairs this customer service with back-to-school discounts.
- Help your child print out his summer reading list. Last-minute scrambles usually result in tears and frustration and get the school year off on the wrong foot. The same goes for summer workbooks. Find them, sign them and put them in a spot designated for school paperwork.
- Drive by or walk by the school. Seeing a new school beforehand helps calm qualms before the first day of school. This enables kids to identify with the school and makes it a less intimidating adventure. Take a photograph of your child in front of the school and put it up on your fridge. Practice walking to the bus stop and point out crosswalks. If driving your child, clock the time it takes to drive the route to avoid tardy slips and tears.
- Attend orientation sessions. Your child can meet his teacher and other students, so that there are familiar faces on the first day of school. Point out the bathrooms, the playground, the lunch room and the cubby with his name on it. He’ll feel more secure, and you’ll be one of the clued-in parents.
- Set up a family calendar. This will calm the chaos of after-school programs, music lessons and orthodontic appointments that storm the scene after summer’s slower pace. Consult it often, and keep Wite-Out tape nearby. If your child can’t tell time, teach him how to read a clock.
- Re-establish a mandatory breakfast routine. Sound nutrition is instrumental to your child’s educational success, studies show. Cereal, eggs, pancakes, fruit and cheese and smoothies are standard fare, but a PB&J sandwich or a nutrition bar and a glass of milk will do in a pinch. (Read my blog about breakfast, nutrition and cognitive function.)
- Assess your child’s closet. If your child has gone through a growth spurt, the pair of jeans that fit in the spring may be flood pants by now. Give away clothing that is too small and toss the socks that lost their mates months ago. Consider shopping for the basics now and adding a few “in” items a few weeks into the school term. Hint: When your children are very young, purchase clothes they can handle easily on their own in the restroom.
- Update immunizations and get that sports physical. Medical documentation is an important part of your school records. Obtain copies for the school, as well as for your own files. Again, last-minute frenzies are highly stressful.
- Review vital information with your child and label belongings. Go over your child’s full name, address, phone number and parents’ names. BigUniverse.com’s authoring tool provides a fun way to review these family details with your child. Create a “Book About Me” and illustrate it. Then read it with your child until he knows the pages by heart.
NOTE: “First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg and illustrator Judy Love is a fun picture book to read with your children before school starts. The Charlesbridge book is charming and rates 5 out of 5 stars on Big Universe. Lobster Press, another one of Big Universe’s publishing partners, offers “The Little Dragon Who Couldn’t Breathe Fire,” a cute story about fears that a new student might have about fitting in at school.