Back to School Prep for Parents
It’s less than 2 weeks to the first day of school here!! Emotions and excitement are running high. We have a mound of school supplies that need to be sorted, labeled and bagged ready to take to school. We have new lunchboxes and water bottles that will hopefully last the whole year. The kids are excited (and a little anxious) for the new school year to start.
I personally love back to school time and always have, I guess its the teacher in me that loves it, but I will admit that it is totally different as a parent. There is always so much to get, do and remember! I’m sure all of us parents know that for back to school we need to get supplies, meet the teacher, etc. But there are things we can be doing at home right now to help our children navigate this transition from an easy, laid-back summer to the structure and routine of the school year.
Here are my 5 Transition Tips for Back to School to start about 1-2 weeks before school starts:
- Create a weekly schedule for your family. Children thrive on routines and knowing what comes next helps to soothe anxieties. This is when you get to grab the calendar, the sports schedules, and put all those commitments down on paper. A written plan helps ensure everyone is on the same page and nothing gets forgotten. There are certain things that should be included in your weekly plan: wake time & bedtime, homework & reading time, free time, and family time. I print ours and color code it so that even our youngest (3yo) knows what to expect next in our day and our week (See picture below for an example week). Having a (semi-) consistent weekly schedule at home will make the transition back to school easier for everyone!
- Start bedtime and wake time for school. Begin easing bedtime up by 10 or 15 minutes a day to get kids to their school bedtime. In the morning do the same thing, begin waking kids up 10-15 minutes earlier each day, making sure that there are 3 days of regular school wake up before the first day of school. Good sleep is essential to learning and behavior regulation. By allowing your child to ease back into their school sleep schedule you are equipping them with the extra time and extra sleep their bodies will need to transition back to school smoothly. This chart shows how much sleep kids need a different ages as well as bedtimes and wake up times for the school year, I have found it a helpful resource over the years.
- Continue or start 20 minutes of reading every day. Research has consistently shown that 20 minutes of reading every day greatly impacts student success in school by increasing vocabulary. In schools it’s called DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read), and this summer we began DEAR time at home too. Young children can either look at simple picture books, or be read to. Older children, 2nd or 3rd grade and above should be reading independently with books at their reading level. My kids love reading time, they often snuggle up together and read to the youngest. I love reading time because I can actually read a few chapters of my book without being interrupted. We always end DEAR time with mommy reading to everyone together, each child gets to choose a book for me to read.
- Start homework time. Right now! Yes, I know that school hasn’t even started yet and I’m asking you to start homework. Yes, I know your child/children are going to complain or roll their eyes. I promise you that if you begin now, your first week of actual homework will be a breeze because everyone will already be in the routine of sitting down to do homework. So take a moment now to figure out when homework time will be for your family, then hold that time sacred, don’t allow playdates or other things to interfere. When you show your children that you value homework and school, they will also value education and learning. Now, you may be wondering what to have your child DO during homework time right now? The simplest plan is to have your child journal about their summer, you can give prompts or just let them write. Then have them do a simple math skills page reviewing what they learned last year, you can google “math review for 2nd grade” to find quick pages to print.
- Lunches and Snacks. Summer lunches and snacks tend to be different from school lunches and snacks. Maybe you are able to stay home during the summer and your children are used to having tons of choices or a freshly cooked hot lunch. Maybe your children went to camp that served lunch. Now’s the time to take a moment to decide if your child will bring their lunch or buy lunch from school. Most schools have their menus available online so you and your child can see the options and make an informed decision. If you will be packing lunches, begin experimenting with different lunch options and having your child help make their lunch now. My oldest is a bit of a picky eater, and tends to not be adventurous with trying new foods. If this sounds like your child, my suggestion is to have them look up some simple & easy lunch ideas (hello Pinterest!) with you and choose 2-3 new ideas to try before school starts. Now, I don’t know about you, but with 3 kiddos I don’t really choose to use my night time packing lunches. My kids learn how to pack their own lunches while they are in preschool. We work with them when they are younger to know what needs to be included for it to be a healthy lunch, and then we slowly work ourselves out of the kitchen as they get older. Our 8 year old and 5 year old both made their lunches independently last year, and they often times helped the 3 year old make his too! Our kids have such a sense of pride in being able to accomplish tasks independently and being trusted with the responsibility, I encourage you to give it a try and be sure to let me know how it goes!
I know that for me, the years that I took these 5 steps beginning a few weeks before school started went much smoother than the 1 year that I didn’t. Putting the time in now will pay off the rest of the school year. I’d love to know what your back to school transition must-dos are! Drop a comment below to let me know what works best for your family.