Are You Ready for Back to School?
Tips & Ideas for the New School Year!
Back to School is a challenging time for families everywhere. New school years mean new schedules, new supplies, new cloths, new classes, as well as sports, clubs, and countless other details that need to be managed both by parents and their kids. Many experts agree that getting a head start on things is one of the best ways to help ensure success for kids and families.
While no list is complete, and you may know a LOT of this already, it never hurts to review things, look for new ideas, and to share what you know with others.
Set Expectations Early - From bedtimes to technology usage to homework and added responsibilities, make sure you discuss the details with your kids and make sure they understand what's expected. Check-in with your kids about THEIR expectations for school and the future. Have the critical talks that enable you to understand their perspectives and help them understand yours.
Give Your Kids the Tools to Succeed - Remember, new and changing expectations and environments can be stressful. Be sure your kids have the tools they need to reach the goals you set out for them ... and the goals they set out for themselves. Whether it's school supplies, a shared calendar, a check-list of daily chores, or all of the above and more, make sure your kids are set-up for success with the knowledge and resources they'll need.
Create a Shared Calendar & Communication Plan - Dealing with the day-to-day chaos of the school year or with emergencies that may come up, have the tools and information in-place to ensure you can reach each other, as a family, and to know where your kids will be. Consider an App like Google Calendar, or white board calendar in the kitchen, that all family members can see and interact with. Create a solid contact list and make sure all phones have it so everyone has the numbers they need. Use group texts and emails to inform everyone of changes.
Get your Back-to-School Shopping Done Early - Connect with schools and teachers (as you can) to get any critical supply lists and talk to your kids about their needs and wants for the new year. Consider supplies for both home study spaces and the classroom, check kids clothing for good fit and wear & tear, consider security rules, and any extracurricular activities that might require extra supplies, equipment, or check-ups.
Start Good Routines Now - It might be bed-time, bath-time, play-time, nutritious eating, good hydration, or just setting positive boundaries. Whatever routines work well for your kids and family, it's best to get everyone back in the habit early rather than struggle later. No homework, yet ... set a reading hour after dinner! No study space ... make cleaning up and preparing the space a priority! Is sports on the fall schedule ... set aside training time to create good fitness habits now!
Talk with Your Kids About Food - From a Good Breakfast to Healthy Snacks, food is CRITICAL to helping keep kids and teens on track and ready to learn and grow in positive ways. Talk to your kids about the food they eat, what they drink, and why. See if there are healthy alternatives to less nutritious snacks and beverages, and get your kids to try new things. Reach out to schools for rules regarding snacks and lunches, and discuss what support is available from them regarding good nutrition practices. Shop with your kids to help familiarize them with nutrition labels, food choices, and good shopping habits. Cook with your kids so the kitchen becomes a place where they feel comfortable.
Grow Your Information Resources - Creating a separate Bookmark Folder for school and education resources can be invaluable to keeping track of new and changing rules, ideas, and resources that can benefit your kids and family. From your school's website to the local library to the Boys & Girls Club Parent Portal to online resources like National Geographic Kids and Generation Wild, the amount of quality information out there continues to grow. Find the resources that work best for you and your kids. Save the Links for future reference. Subscribe to relevant Newsletters, and stay informed!
Make Back-Ups of Critical Files and Forms - Having physical copies is good, also having scanned copies on your computer, in GoogleDrive or elsewhere in the Cloud, or on your phone can be essential in saving time in your day to day schedule or during an emergency. Use the technology you have to ensure you can get the documents you need when you need them most. Having more than one electronic back-up is also a smart move.
Be Ready for Homework - Talk to teachers and get a solid understanding of what's being taught this year and how much homework is required. Make sure to set up parent accounts on the school's website (kids often have their own accounts, but many parents can get accounts as well). Talk to your kids about homework and have a plan to give them the time they need to do it and figure out how you can help.
Show Your Kids How Much You Care - Connect with kids in meaningful ways. You might send notes along with lunch or have their favorite snack ready to go when they get home. Plan quick trips together. Attend extracurricular events. Schedule quality time. Prepare dinner together. Read the book they've been assigned and talk with them about it. Meaningful engagement matters, and it all strengthens your relationship in addition to helping them stay on track, both at home and in school.
Be Ready for After-School - Extra-curricular activities, sports, part-time jobs, or after-school programming all require extra planning and working to make sure your kids understand the responsibilities and expectations of these programs and environments. Connecting with Coaches, Teachers, Employers, or Program Staff is essential to making sure you stay informed.
Check out the Parent Portal webpage for more resource links!