It’s that time of year again and the new school year is upon us. It’s time for stocking up on the essentials and preparing for the busy days ahead. Instead of dreading all of the tasks to be accomplished before the bell rings, recognize the joy and excitement as you ready your child for a new grade and new experiences. After all, it’s fun to pick out just the right backpack and shop for the perfect first day of school outfit (uniform policy approved, of course). The beginning of school is essentially a fresh start full of possibilities so let’s make the best of the opportunity and be extra prepared this year. Start with the basics.
Take care of business.
You might as well just get all those little, necessary tasks over with, because the pace is going to quicken throughout the year with homework and extracurricular activities. Schedule haircuts and medical appointments now and scratch those items off of your crowded calendar. You don’t want your child to miss class for an appointment that could be attended to during the summer. Has your child had a dental appointment lately? What about a vision and hearing screening? Even if you have no concerns at this time, well checkups need to be attended to annually. Also, call your child’s doctor to make sure that all immunizations are up to date before your child’s first day of school as this is required. If you need documentation, pediatricians will gladly give you that information if given adequate notice. And, don’t forget the seasonal flu vaccines.
You know the drill; the school supply lists are ready so make sure you purchase all of the goods and have them labeled according to the school’s policy. If you haven’t already, get your child to try on her uniforms from last year to see if they still fit and replenish the wardrobe where needed. Make sure shirt tails can be tucked in and those shoes are comfortable. Review dress code policies to make sure your new purchases meet the requirements. Additionally, why not iron several outfits so that you’ll have one less thing to do in the mornings of that first week back to the grind?
Organization is the key to a successful school year. You know that from day one the kiddos will be coming home with all sorts of paperwork, so it’s beneficial to designate a place for different items. Also, assign a specific place for the backpacks and school accessories so you won’t have to search the house for them every morning. Spending 15 minutes finding a belt before you’ve even had your cup of coffee can certainly add to morning stress. Keep music books, soccer cleats and any other items needed for after school activities in the same place. Make a habit of sorting through paperwork as soon as it’s received and teach your child that there is a place for everything.
Avoid the last minute planning for packed lunches and snacks. Buy in bulk when it comes to lunchbox staples to save some. Encourage healthy eating along the way and have plenty of high protein breakfast foods on hand. Include your child in the meal planning decisions. Decide together if all food groups are represented in her lunch tote and use the time spent packing lunches to discuss healthy food choices. If your child will be eating school lunches, make sure that the dues are paid ahead of time.
To help with the transition of the first week of school, tuck away sweet notes to your child in their lunchbox. A love note or act of encouragement during the school day will surely go a long way.
Make sure that you have made arrangements for your child for before and after school care. Is he riding the bus? Who is picking up your child on what days? Discuss with your child the arrangements for the new school year to avoid any confusion. Update your emergency contact information and discuss any custody concerns with school administration. Balance study time and extracurricular activities from the get go to ensure that your child is not overwhelmed and can actually benefit from the activities strategically chosen. Let your child know before hand your expectations. If homework is to be completed immediately after school, let him know. Teach him also how to manage his time. Studies, enrichment programs and social time are all important but there needs to be balance.
During the school year is a good time to teach your children accountability and responsibility. Introduce them to the alarm clock and teach them how to use it. Whenever possible, allow them to take the initiative, doing things such as laying out their clothes the night before or preparing their breakfast when possible. Teach them that completing their homework and their chores are responsibilities to be taken seriously. Reward them for tending to their duties, which will increase the likelihood of the positive behavior continuing.
Talk it out.
The beginning of school marks many changes and with those changes come anxiety for children. Encourage your child to discuss any concerns he may have and offer advice. Keep checking in with your child through the year to make sure that the anxieties are alleviated. If you notice persistent problems with your child’s anxiety level, don’t hesitate to see a specialist. You you’re your child best and should pay attention to your instincts—especially during these times of transition. Encourage healthy social relationships and get involved in your child’s educational experience. If your child does not want to talk on one occasion, keep trying and be persistent. Even though it may not be well received, your support is essential.
Finally, ready your camera and click away on the first day of school. Why not be encouraging? School is a privilege and teaching your child that early on is best. Make sure that your child knows that you are proud of him and his accomplishments on a regular basis. Every success is a step in the right direction and the foundation for a lifetime of learning and the first day of school is only the beginning.