I loved seeing my kids so excited about school. As a family, we supported their excitement with visits to the school and their new classroom. We walked around the playground, met their teacher before school started, and attended open houses and back to school events. There was always a bit of nervousness around this time… “5th grade – would I really be able to be with the big kids in 5th grade!?” It’s pretty normal for kids to feel that way so we talked about things and allowed those feelings to surface.
Whether your child is starting school for the first time or going back for the next grade, there are a few things that are essential for getting ready for school every year.
After a summer of loose scheduling and minimal academic work, it is important to get organized and reestablish a routine .
- Review current shoes and clothes. It is fun to see how much the kids have grown and what they can pass on. Buy what is needed to start the school season. To spread out the spending – plan purchases for the rest of fall, like who is going to need a fall jacket or new jeans, etc.
- Explore lunch options. If you’re going back to sack lunches, tastes change from year to year, spend some time planning lunch menus. After talking things through, make a trip to the grocery store, specifically for lunch food. Stock up on brown bags or colored bags to spice things up a bit! Hot lunch may require a little planning too. How does your school accept the money? Do your kids get an account that you can replenish online or do you need to pay weekly to the school? Figuring these things out before the first day will make it go much smoother.
- Plan ahead. Designate a a special place for their things. This will make it special and also keep everyone organized as you prepare and keep it easy to stay organized throughout the year. Getting kids out of the house with a full stomach and all their belongings requires structure! So I suggest starting the night before. Have the kids check their things and be sure they were ready. Plan breakfast, be sure to be up ahead of the kids, and make lunches while they eat or the night before. Then it’s off to school. Try to keep the same routine for the school year and be as consistent as possible.
- Dry erase boards are your friends, along with a very big calendar. A dry erase board in the kitchen for messages and reminders is an invaluable tool. For a calendar, try an inexpensive desk calendar on the wall and record special events and extra curricular activities. And make it visual with a color code! Each kid gets their own color and it helps them remember their schedule as much and it helps mom and dad remember who needs to be where and when.
- Do your homework. Check out the school, the teacher, what happens at lunch, do they get a recess? Find out everything you can so you know – so you’re your own expert. Tell your child a little at a time, enough to make them comfortable – but don’t overwhelm them with too much information all at once.
- Practice getting to school. Whether our children walk to school, take the bus or you drop them off, the act of getting to school can be confusing and overwhelming. Do a practice run or two.
Make it special. This is such a big deal for your kid. It’s huge. And it’s a big deal for you too. You may be excited and nervous – but never let the nervous show! Make this a fun time for you and your child.
- New first day of school outfit. Getting a new outfit and planning their first day look can be the most exciting part of going back to school. If they have a dress code or uniform you can still make it special by planning out hair accessories or styles, funky socks or special shoes.
- Shopping for school supplies. Every school and grade has their own list of supplies needed and usually there is a least a little room for individual choices in colors or styles of folders, pencils, notebooks or etc. Even if you just have the luxury of paying a supply fee so the school can purchase what is needed, there are still a few things that can be extra. Do they need a new backpack or book bag? This can a very big deal. What style, color or character?? It is a big decision and once made, signals a readiness to get started.
- First day of school picture. Take a few minutes before you leave for school to take a family picture. Everyone is dressed in their new outfits and has fresh haircuts. Find a special place to take the picture every year. They will love looking back on them. You can even take the same picture on the last day of school with every kid in the same place – with arms full of flowers for the teacher or treats for the class. You’ll love seeing how much they’ve grown.
- First day of school dinner. Try making a special dinner to celebrate the first day of school. The kids will set the table with extra excitement and a sense of anticipation knowing there is lots to share. Pick something special to serve listen to how excited they are to tell stories, give the low down on the teacher and say who is in their class.
The new school year holds so much promise and excitement. With a little patience and planning your school year can be off to a successful start and continue that way throughout the year. Have fun and take lots of pictures to make lasting memories and put a positive spin on the end of summer vacation.