The school year is just around the corner, and before you know it you’ll be making sure that the kiddos have done their homework, packed their lunch, and have their backpack in the morning. Transitioning to the hectic school schedule after the lazy days of summer can be tough.
Here are 10 tips to help everybody prepare for the upcoming school year.
10. Back to bedtime basics
Warm summer nights can often mean later bedtimes for kids, followed by lackadaisical mornings. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to ratchet down when the lights go out, or you could face fussy kids who aren’t tired, not to mention the crankiness you’ll have to contend with the next day. To avoid a rude awakening on the first day of school, slowly bring your kids back to an earlier bedtime by about 15 minutes each evening over the course of a week, and try to have your kids at that bedtime for a week or so before school starts.
9. Practice your child’s school route
Your child will have a lot of new details to manage on the first day of school. How she gets there shouldn’t be one of them. No matter if it’s just helping your child locate the bus stop, or the best biking and walking routes, it will be very valuable to get out there a few days ahead of time and make sure your child knows the way to and from school. Take special care to point out all crosswalks, and any high traffic areas which might be a bit dangerous.
8. Update your family calendar with school and afterschool activities
Although there are some things that you won’t be able to put on a calendar until school starts, there are many events you can add to your calendar ahead of time. Go ahead and fill the calendar with any sports practices, recitals, or any other event that impacts the schedule. In addition to a central paper calendar in the kitchen, parents with older kids may want to set up a shared online or cloud-based calendar so that all family members can access it remotely. Not only is this great for your kids, but parents will appreciate having a central location from which they can check to see if they might be available for a night out.
7. Identify and sign up for afterschool programs
Afterschool programs aren’t just a means to occupy your children until you get home from work. They can also be a fun way to enrich your kids’ lives, as well as give them an academic or athletic competitive advantage. Even if your child is years away from college, it’s never too soon to start racking up a strong resume of extracurricular activities. And spaces can be limited! So, before the first day class, figure out if your child should spend her afternoons swimming, playing soccer, practicing Chinese, or learning to cook.
6. Coordinate a carpool
A good carpool can save you time and money, and even help your kids make some friends. If you’re new to an area, check with your school’s PTA, as they sometimes coordinate carpools. And there are online resources as well, such as http://www.carpooltoschool.com that also help to organize walkpools and bike trains.
5. Create a menu for the first week or month of the school year
With the new demands placed on both you and your kids’ time at the outset of a school year, it can become quite a challenge to prepare healthy meals. To help nourish those growing noggins, plan your family’s meals for the first week or month of the new year. This will allow you to do a bulk of the shopping ahead of time, and avoid any last minute trips to the grocery store. In addition to school lunch supplies, you can also think of healthy dinner and breakfast foods that freeze and defrost well, such as vegetable lasagna and whole wheat waffles. It might feel like a lot of work up front, but when it’s late Wednesday and you’ve got a million things to do, it will be nice to know that planning a healthy dinner won’t be one of them. There are also many great apps and online resources for meal planning.
4. Take your child for her immunizations and annual checkup
Check with your child’s school on the specific requirements, and make sure your kid is good-to-go on their immunizations before the beginning of the year. Additionally, kids who will be engaging in athletics often need a physical to participate. And if you have the time, also try to squeeze in that trip to the dentist before the start of the year.
3. Clear out the cobwebs
It’s not that kids don’t use their brains during summer break. But figuring out the perfect amount of marshmallow to adhere a s’more, or the ideal speed at which to hit the slip-n-slide aren’t the kind of skills that necessarily translate into high test scores. Do your kids a favor and get them flipping through math and vocabulary flash cards a week or two before the first bell rings. This will help your kids feel sharper on day 1, ramp up quickly on their assignments, and in general help them start the year off right.
2. One last fun event
People like to have one last hurrah. Your kids will appreciate a final, fun, special summer activity before returning to their workaday worlds. It can be as simple as a backyard campout, or a trip to their favorite waterpark. No matter what you choose for their fun activity, be sure to let your kids know that this is an “end of the summer” event, so they can continue to process the fact that their schedules will be changing. And don’t wait until the last weekend in summer for the final festivity. It can actually make the transition more challenging to experience one of the most awesome days of summer immediately before having to wake up at the crack of dawn and trudge off to class.
The final step in your school year preparation is to take a deep breath and smile — you made it through another summer!