We’ve been in school for weeks now! I
see a lot are just starting! Being well prepared for a fabulous school year is easy. With minimal time, money and effort you will have a greater chance of a less stressful year. Who doesn’t need that? Whether you are a stay at home mom or dad, a single mom, a nuclear family with both working parents these ideas will help.
Lets start with stuff to do at home:
1. Set up a COMMAND CENTER. This is basically a white board, cork board or a combination of both. Here you will have the school calendar printed, a blank calendar to fill in with important school dates, important family dates, practice info, birthdays, you get the idea. The COMMAND CENTER has important phone numbers, a place for business cards of professionals you might need one day, chore charts, weekly menus, grocery list, any paperwork needed to be returned to school at a later date.( I have individual child labeled pocket folders hung using push pins for this), each child’s daily
schedule printed here with the teacher phone numbers and email, practice schedules, game schedules, a current picture of each child, friends phone numbers and anything else someone in the family might need.
2. Set up a location for homework to
be completed. I’m not picky. One of mine likes her bed. The other likes our dining table. Just as long as there is a place for them to do it. Because they like different locations I have 2 separate containers that have pens, pencils, markers, erasers, scissors, highlighters and crayons for them. Another important note about homework is
to make yourself available to them no matter where you are. We have helped our daughter write a report over the phone, facetimed to help with homework and done projects in hotel rooms. Being involved is so important.
3. Have a place to put younger children’s take home work. I used bank boxes when mine were younger. They hold every single piece of paper that was brought home. Nothing was thrown away. Every piece is in chronological order. You can organize by week, period, semester or like me. It’s up to you. But having a place to put it as soon as you get it is important.
4. Check younger children’s backpacks daily. Most teachers have you sign a folder to show that you did. If your children’s teacher does not, you should still get in this habit. While checking have your child with you. This is a great time to reinforce good organizational skills. Give them kudos or shown them what is expected, yes even in kindergarten.
Sign all permission slips, write all dates on the COMMAND CENTER calendar, answer or write notes to teachers at this time. It will take about 5 minutes.
Make sure to transfer all dates from the calendar to any other personal calendar you use whether on your phone or computer.
5. Every Sunday have a Family Meeting. Discuss the coming week- schedules, games, dinner menu, etc. Look through older kids backpacks, make suggestions about organization with them as well. Talk about grades. Make yourself available for questions to be asked.
6. Have a place for school necessities- backpacks, shoes, lunch boxes
7. Pick out clothes the night before. We used to plan a week ahead. This never worked. Thank goodness ours wear uniforms now! Have separate activities bags for each activity prepacked as well.
8. Have a hair station – brush, combs, rubber bands, bows, head band etc. These items remain here at all times. My brush never leaves my bathroom. I hear horror stories or people never
being able to find a brush in the morning. Not in this house.
9. Create a dinner menu and precook if possible.
10. If necessary, set your main clock
10 minutes ahead as well as make a morning and evening schedule based on the routines you naturally follow. Offer incentives for getting through the routines without issues. I call mine “Let’s Earn TV/Phone Time Y’all” please comment if you would
like a copy.
11. To get out the door on time set a
alarm for 10 minutes or 5 minutes
before you must leave.
12. Make sure to have easy breakfast and snack options. As a stay at home mom I usually have dinner prepared when they arrive from school. They eat dinner very early but have a snack before bed. It works very well.
13. To avoid trips to the store for supplies for a project buy items when you see them on sale. Poster board, glitter, pipe cleaners, glue, adhesive letters and numbers and paint are examples. I have a craft closet my kids go to. No last minute trips to the store.
Stuff for school:
14. Without fail go to orientation, meet the teacher, whatever you school calls it. Important information is given here and more importantly you get to meet your children’s teachers face to face,
meet other parents and their children,
as well as meet the school leaders. This is critical.
15. Visit the schools website as often as you can. Grades are posted on parent portals now. This is an awesome thing. We have a great advantage to truly help our kids if they need it as well as praise them.
16. Teachers communicate through email mostly these days. Email them ASAP. Open communication with teachers is critical. Let them know you are involved.
17. Prepay lunch as far in advance as possible. Schools these days do not let you get lunch on credit. Please make sure they always have enough. If your child typically takes a lunch still have some money in their account. You never know if there will be a day when they forget their lunch and you might not be able to get it to them.
18. Color code notebooks to match the subjects textbook. For example, my daughters language book is red. Therefore, her folder is red. Her pre-algebra is yellow. Her folder is yellow. Science is orange, the folder is orange. History is blue. Well you get the idea!
And one more suggestion for working parents. Put in your requests for awards ceremonies, holidays, programs, fields trips, etc as soon as possible. I’m not sure of your work environment but it might be first come first serve. Working and parenting is hard enough — missing important moments is unbearable.
These are my favorites for back to school. What are yours? Did you like mine? What would you take away or add?