Back to school time is here! If you spend anytime around children then you know that back to school time is upon us. Some states and schools have already started. In Minnesota, we start back the day after labor day. It’s after the Minnesota state fair and many people have done the last weekend “up north” as we like to say. Up north is anything North or Northwest of the Twin Cities! Flip flops and bikini’s have been packed away for another year and we start thinking about flannel shirts and pumpkin lattes!
Getting children ready to head back to school is no small feat for some families, with others it’s just another day. Regardless of where you fall in the mix there are things you can do to help make the transition easier on everyone. I am a big believer in easy, especially when it comes to the kids! Here are some of the things I recommend to help make it easier on you and the kids.
Back To School Tip 1: Get into a bedtime routine
Most children stay up later and sleep in longer during the summer. Getting adequate sleep is critical not just for good learning, but also for cognitive development. A lot of brain cells get strengthened during sleep. I have created a handy chart to help you see just how much sleep your child needs for optimal learning and playing. Of course, you know your child best, some children need more and some less. However, this will give you a good idea of what to aim for. I recommend starting a couple weeks early and waking them up when you would normally be getting them up for school. Have something fun planned for those early mornings. Some of the things our family likes is to go for early morning bike rides or go “polar bear” swimming. Usually the lake water feels warmer because the air is cooler. By waking them earlier they are more tired at the end of the day and it helps ease the transition to an earlier bedtime.
Back To School Tip 2: Order your school supplies online.
Now a days there are many places that will work with your local public, private and charter schools to download there supply lists into there system. Last year I used Target and it was very easy. This year, our school’s PTO has a fundraiser going with a place called SchoolToolBox.com. It was super simple and took about five minutes to get everything they needed. And, their prices were comparable to the bigger discount stores. The best part is the school gets a percentage donated if they choose to participate. For more info, check them out here. I am sure there are other places that do this too but these are the two I personally have used.
For me the hardest part was not letting the kids pick their own stuff out but I have heard from teachers this makes things so much easier and the children are getting exactly the items they want them to have. School supply lists have changed dramatically over the years and uniformity is important to the teachers. Because I can afford it I also buy extra supplies to send throughout the year or for the children who may not be able to provide all the supplies that are requested. I encourage you to do so if you have the means. It is nice to have a level playing field at the start of the year.
Back To School Tip 3: Start talking about it with your child/ren
Knowing what is going on helps kids deal with any anxiety they might be having about the upcoming school year. Talking about the things they did the previous year and the friends they made is helpful. I saved all last years school papers to go through with them at the end of summer. We choose which ones we want to keep and toss the rest. This will make room in our file drawer for this years papers. Each child has a 3 ring binder where the can keep the papers they are saving each year. This was the perfect time to do this since it enabled us to remember the projects and fun times they had creating them. It also helped us to talk about some of the things they may be doing in their new class. Our kids have what we call “specials” which is Spanish, Art, Physical Education, Technology and Music all through the elementary grades. These classes are taught by specific teachers so they have the same ones for several years. Their homeroom teacher teaches the core curriculum classes. They really enjoy doing this and looking at their work. It is fun to see how far they have come and the skills they have gained over the summer as well!
Back To School Tip 4: Have playdates with friends they normally only see during the school year
You can’t deny the fact that most kids are starting to get bored by this time of the summer. They have played with their neighborhood friends all summer and may miss those they don’t see during these months. Besides, playdates are fun! Plan an afternoon or weekend to meet at a park near the school. It gives them a chance to get reacquainted before that first day of school. It also gives them something to talk about when they feel awkward seeing each other after spending so much time apart. If you know which class your child is going to be in you can also find out which friends will be in the same class and do a playdate with them.
Back To School Tip 5: Have Fun!
This may be the most important this of all. Enjoy these last few weeks with your child. Even if they are in childcare or summer programs all day. Make sure you plan some fun activities to end the summer with and let them know how special they are. Children thrive when they know you want to spend time with them and think they are smart. Our family is ending the summer with a trip to the lake, a zoo visit and a visit to the local Children’s Museum. What will you do?
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If your child is starting kindergarten don’t forget to read my kindergarten readiness post here.