Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School Basics

Last year I was a rookie at getting started for the school year.  Here, in Seattle, school hasn't started yet.  But, I know this may be coming late for those of you in other parts of the country.  If you don't have an elementary school child yet, save this post somewhere where you can review it once your child enters kindergarten.  There's more than you might think to remember.

So, a rookie's take on how to prepare for elementary school:

1) Follow your school's website or blog starting the summer BEFORE your child enters kindergarten.  At our school, the PTA organizes kindergarten play dates through out the summer for children and parents to get acquainted with the school and with one another.  If your school doesn't already do this- consider talking to your PTA about doing this!  It is a great way to make sure your child is more comfortable on the first day of school.

2) Buy school supplies AT LEAST a month ahead of time!  Local sales start about a month before school starts on everything from pencils to kids' clothing.  Online Back to School sales start in early to mid August.

3) Get into a routine EARLY with your kids.  I got this idea from one my favorite organizing sites, I Heart Organizing.  Start putting your kids to bed during their school year bedtime and wake them up to start the day when they will need to get up for school.  Plan activities that you have to get out of the door for so that your kids are prepared for getting ready for school.

4) Consider creating a homework nook.  We have created one in our house, and I'm still putting the finishing touches on it.  But, this is a great way to motivate your child to do their homework.  I personally believe that the purpose of homework is to teach a child to be self motivated and self disciplined.  So, at this point I have worked hard to be as minimally involved in homework as possible.  Ideally, that means creating a quiet, simple space to focus on school work and then being close by for questions or help when needed.

5) Clean and organize your child(ren)'s clothing.  I go through each child's drawers in my home, leave a few summer items (for those last few days of nice weather, and pack their new fall clothing underneath is.  I restock on underwear and socks and have everything ready to go to start the year off right.

6) Make your child(ren)'s room an inviting space.  This year, we spent much of the summer cleaning, organizing, and redecorating the girls' space.  The most useful new item in their room?  A nightstand between their two beds with books, a lamp, and an alarm clock on it.  The girls will learn to set the alarm themselves and then I'm not the bad guy anymore when I have to wake them for school in the morning!  I also strongly believe in self discipline and self motivation, so I want them to learn to get up and start getting ready on their own.  Don't worry, I'll be ready and waiting with a yummy family breakfast when they get downstairs.

7) Create a routine and stick to it.  This past year, I had a very scheduled routine during the school year.  This helped all of us to know what was coming next and made our home a more calm environment.  The best part about our routine?  I'd pack a snack each day to take to the school yard, and after picking up my daughter from school, we'd hang around for an hour or more playing before heading home to wind down and start dinner.

8) Mark your calendar.  This year, I synced our home calendar with the school calendar and with my husband's work calendar.  That way, we know everything we need to know in one place and because we did it through the Google Calendar feature through our emails, our calendars are now always synced to our phones as well.  This allows to be more aware of what each member of the family's commitments are well in advance.

9) Schedule doctor's and dentist's appointments at least one month in advance.  And, consider scheduling any follow up appointments for winter break.  That way, you don't have to worry about pulling your kids from school to take them to these appointments.

10) Schedule a 1:1 date with each of your children.  My husband and I like to schedule time one on one with each of our kids before school starts.  Summer, now that I stay home, has become a time where I can snuggle, play with, and schedule activities with my kids whenever I want.  Though the school year brings a lot of fun,  it's a time that I will miss.  (Once I get over celebrating having a few moments to myself to get things done around here!)  I also find that my girls miss the time, and that part of the emotions that come with the school are just their way of expressing that they are sad the time together has ended.

What about you?  What things do you do to get ready for the school year?  Anything I missed?

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