How are we here already? Is it really time to go back to school?
While the summer was filled with late mornings, lazy days, and, admittedly, too much technology time, it is time to accept that school will start in a matter of days. Routine will need to be back in place, nightly pre-made lunches, laying out the clothes for the next day, eating at six, bedtime at eight, and my life becoming a series of schedules.
It’s overwhelming, I know!
So, as a mother and a teacher, here are some things I have learned that make the transition back to “real life” easier.
Start That Bedtime Routine Now
Progressively start putting the kids to bed earlier and waking them up earlier. I know, who wants to do that? But trust me, you will be thankful later when you don’t have to drag them by their toes out of bed five minutes before the last school bell.
Limit Snack Time
If your kids are anything like mine, they eat all day every day – random snacks at random times. When school starts, they will be on breakfast, lunch, and snack only. So start slowly pulling back the freedom to the pantry and get back on that schedule of set eating times to help them get their bodies ready.
Now, this is going to be hard! But necessary! The week before school, we shut down all technology. Their brains have been trained (if you have been allowing your kids as I have with mine) to get on their tablets, switch, video games, even watching TV daily. Their brains now expect that daily. So, you have to undo all that technology dependence. Trust me, as a teacher, I will be forever grateful if your child comes to me not addicted to technology because, let’s be honest, that is what it is to kids.
Clean the House. Do the Yard.
When school starts back, I will go back to work, meaning no mid-day laundry or cleaning the house during the week. As a working mother, I will need all those things completed before that intensive first week of school. So, I prepare by getting all that stuff done.
This is clutch for my family and my sanity those first few weeks. It just sets another routine that will help manage all that will change in the weeks we go back to school. Pre-made / pre-cooked meat is also on my to-do list to help those first weeks go smoother.
Make a morning routine chart and start reviewing it so your child knows what is expected of them each morning. I’ve had those fights one too many times over brushing their teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. So, start early! Make that list now and start doing it each morning with your kids before the first day of school.
Make a Calendar
With the return of school comes the return of afterschool activities. And if your child is going into 3rd grade like mine, this also includes homework! So go ahead and hang that family calendar on the fridge to add important dates and schedules. This really helps to reduce my husband constantly asking (not really, but it feels like it, right?) “what are we doing?”
See the Doctor
Gather all that paperwork the school will need for your child to return. This includes immunization records and physicals. If you have a Kindergartener, then make sure to have the birth certificate, along with a bill that shows your current address. If you have any questions, call the school. We are open now.
Figure out if you need to carpool, ride a bus, or if your child will do a car rider line (don’t forget to post those hilarious carline videos). Whether your child is going to be a car rider or bus rider, know the route and set up your routine accordingly, so you are not scrambling the first day.
After School Routine
Think about this. When will you do homework with your child? Consider those after-school activities you might have coming up in a few weeks, such as when soccer or the chess club at school starts. No matter your feelings on homework, from a teacher, trust me that setting up a routine even for a Kindergartner will establish good long-term study skills for your child. Remember, though, kids should be able to do 80% of their homework independently. If you have to help them, you are doing it wrong, so talk to your teacher about it.
Now … on to how to prepare your child for school.
Go to Orientation. And Take Your Child Too
They will need to know how to get to their classroom, but it is also important for them to see you interact with their teacher. At every age, this is imperative for setting up communication with your child’s teacher that will help support them throughout the school year. Your child will also see that you are invested in their education and can reach their teacher at any time. For the younger kids, this will give them a better sense of security knowing their parents know the teacher and accept them.
Get School Supplies
Take them to get supplies. Let them pick out their favorite “toolbox” or folders. This will get them invested and (hopefully) excited about going back to school. If not, then it will at least get them to realize it is happening.
Do this with your child. Going through their clothes, talking about getting dressed appropriately for school, and how to find them will give them autonomy over their wardrobe. Even go as far as to have them pick out their outfits for the week. Kids always prefer to feel as if they have a choice in things, so this is one thing they can do for themselves, let them have it.
Pull Those Masks Back Out
I know, no one wants to start wearing a mask again, and even if they are optional, with cases raising and “breakthroughs” happening, it never hurts to put it in the bag.
Organize School Supplies
Have your child open and organize their own supplies in the toolbox to know what they have and where everything is located. Again, this is another thing that will give them autonomy and prepare their mind for going back to school.
Begin that nighttime routine of reading to your child or having them read daily will get their minds working again. Kids can lose up to 30-40% of their learning over the summer, so if you haven’t been working with them (guilty!), then take this time to get their brains working again.
Wear Real Shoes
If your kids are like mine, they have been barefoot or in crocs/flip-flops all summer. Putting real shoes back on will be tricky, so pick a day and wear those shoes, especially if they are new! Also, if your child can’t tie their shoes (guilty, again!), work on that. Teachers do not like tying shoelaces all day, especially if they have been dragging on the dirty ground (yuck!).
Wash/Organize the Backpacks
At the end of the year, I dumped my kids’ backpacks, tossed them in the laundry room, and never looked back. Whether you buy your kids a new backpack each year or wash it, go ahead and clean that out. Then, pack it up with all those supplies. Again, another thing your child can help you do.
Last but not least, Take One Last Trip
I know this goes against everything I just said about setting up that routine again, but I also believe in taking those last moments of summer to spend with your child. Take a day trip, an overnight trip, anything just to enjoy the end of the summer with your children. We only have so many!