The aroma of number two pencils in the store signals the beginning of another school year.
Some parents can’t believe summer has flown by so quickly. Others are counting the days until the school bell rings
Shifting gears from summer frolicking, to fall studying, takes preparation.
Whether you have a returning student, or a child just starting school, this week we’re talking about how to get your kids (and yourself) into the school groove.
Michael McGinley of Danville says he and his wife prepared their twin boys for kindergarten by “talking to them a lot, so they know what to expect.”
Erin Edward of San Ramon says she started the transition two weeks ago with her daughter — from “the last free and easy days of summer” to the routine and responsibilities of school with daily math sheets and nightly reading.
She is also working on her daughter’s routine with a daily chores chart and accomplishments calendar.
Both Edward and McGinley say they are following school year bedtimes and wake-up times, to get the family into the rhythm.
Here are an additional 10 tips for a smooth beginning to the school year:
- Get the lay of the land. Visit the school while it's still quiet. Help familiarize your child with their surroundings before the first chaotic days of kids and adults rushing about, by walking around, trying out the routes they will take daily, and letting them play on the play structures if possible.
- Talk about what to expect, listening for fears and anxieties you may want to discuss. See if your child’s favorite TV character has a back to school episode, like The Berenstain Bears, and watch it with them to talk about what happens at school. Read going to school stories. A great story for first time students (and parents) is “The Kissing Hand.”
- Start fresh. If you haven’t scheduled it yet, go and get the kids a fresh . Don’t forget to schedule an appointment for yourself once school is in session.
- Send them off with something familiar. Talk with your kids about what favorite foods they would like for you to pack in their school lunches, and incorporate them into your shopping list.
- Prepare your provisions. Visit the bulk stores for staples like napkins, bags, milk/juice boxes, etc.
- Involve the kids. Create a daily list with your kids that they can check-off to reinforce their responsibilities for school each morning. This can also prevent forgetting items before you hit the carpool line. Here is a good example.
- Remove the guesswork and indecision. Consider buying a closet organizer that allows you to pre-select a school outfit for each day of the week and have it ready and waiting before the week begins. Also place play clothes to change into after school in each slot, which will also help keep school clothes in good condition longer.
- Create a “launching pad” in your home for each child. Make it a habit to put all needed items to get out the door in a set location to be easily grabbed on the way out the door. This is a good tip for parents as well. Check out this great example. Some parents also find keeping items like school shoes in the car are a good way to avoid the delay of looking for critical lost items in the morning.
- Make the day special. Use a special plate, or make a traditional first day of school breakfast. Tuck notes in their backpack or lunch box. Take a picture in the same spot each year to see how they are growing and changing.
- Stay strong and enjoy the moment. Make sure that no matter your own emotions about the day, you hold it together. Your kids will take their cues from you. Keep up a positive and confident attitude as you guide your kids through their first school days. Wait to have a cry (or a shout of jubilation) until you are back in your car. And, don’t forget the dark sunglasses and tissues.