Keep Your Home and School Life Calmer this Back to School Season

It seems to happen every year. One minute we are barbequing, lounging in the pool, camping, going to the beach or on fun day trips, perhaps even on a long anticipated vacation, and then, BAM! The scene changes drastically: stores are merchandising Fall, as in Pumpkin Spice Everything, Halloween decor and Back to School items galore!  For kids it can be jarring to be staring at the reality of returning to a more structured routine, but it can be equally disconcerting for parents, especially if there are unknown factors regarding the school experience or their students’ potential reaction to a new school year. Couple this with the uncertainties of the last 2.5 years of life and stress all around can start to grow.  

First, let’s breathe. With a bit of planning ahead, organization, and tips from some experts, we CAN put a positive spin on the experience of preparing for Back To School activities. Whether this is your first year of having a child in school or your tenth year, every new experience i.e. start of a new school year, is going to have some similarities and differences to the ones that preceded it. Hopefully, this guide has something that  parents with different types of experiences can find helpful. Let’s Do This!

According to the ADDitude magazine online article “10 Things To Do BEFORE School Starts”, some things parents might want to do ahead of the start of the school year (or soon thereafter) are:

Scout the School   

Walking through the school before the school year starts can reduce both child and parent nerves, as you know what to expect and where things are. If possible, look at the child’s actual classroom. Finding key places like the bathrooms, auditorium, nurse’s office, and gym can calm some jitters about getting lost. Remind your kids that it is ok to have to ask for directions! 

Look over any Accommodations (if applicable) 

 If your child has any accommodations (think 504 Plan or IEP), review what educational goals have been met, and any remaining challenges. Before school starts (or soon thereafter) reach out to schedule a team meeting, to talk about what was effective last year and what goals you’ll focus on this year. This can be a time to update the team on any new achievements or challenges that may prompt revisions to plans.

Organize a School Systems That Works  

You know your child best, including their biggest organizational challenges. It’s better to strategize potential solutions before or soon after classes begin. Together ( if your kiddo is amenable), browse an office supply store, dollar store, Walmart, Target or websites like Amazon and see what type of systems designed for organizing papers, supplies, and time, might best fit their needs. Pick options that are simple enough to work both at school and at home. For example, if losing homework is a known issue, consider pocket folders and label them for work to do on the left, finished work on the right. Can’t find books in their locker?  A locker shelf and encouragement to organize books according to the daily class schedule might do the trick.

Review Class Schedule Together 

 If your child is in one classroom all day, knowing how the day/week will be structured and what it will consist of can offer a sense of security.  If they are switching classrooms, ask them if they know where all listed classrooms are located.  

Create a Home Staging Area 

Pick a spot close to the door and stock it with things like open cubbies/shelving, baskets, and/or hooks. This should be “HOME BASE” for items like books, homework, backpack, notes, sports/activity bags/equipment, keys, lunches, and other school-related articles. Hang a large whiteboard to help her remember tasks and items. Consider setting timers to help get kids and parents out the door on time.  Old school Dollar Store wind up timers are one great option that keeps everyone off their phones.

Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing: Read Info from the School 

It is tempting to skim over the endless number of emails, website links, videos, online sign ups, and even papers that your students school sends you. Sure some of it may involve signing up to be a chaperone at a dance or volunteer for the Holiday Market, BUT there is also crucial information that can be buried in the parade of documents.  Schedules, calendars, classroom policies and signups for important events can be missed.  Trust me on this- you don’t want to be the ONLY parent who misses the Meet the New Class Goldfish Tea. 

Strategies: 

  • Set up a dedicated folder in your email for your child’s school items (you can break down into categories/subfolders later as needed).  If you have paper documents or printed permission forms, use a physical file folder to start.
  • ACTUALLY READ THE INFO– dedicate a 15-30 minute timeframe (depending on the number of kids and or/documents you have to review)  to read the documents. It will set you up for less stress and the ability to binge watch something or listen to a podcast at a later date
  • Take Action (if needed)– sign any electronic permission forms, print out and sign and put in email (or backpack) any that have to be returned to school, along with any fees or other items (lie classroom supply donations)
  • Put Important Dates and Numbers where you can find them– whether this is on a computer, phone, paper calendar, or refrigerator white board, just make sure you know contacts for school, transportation, hours and days your child is in school (and off school or has early dismissal).

Roundup of Helpful Links for Strategies and Products 

There are oodles of resources out there to help parents manage and control all aspects of the Back to School journey. Here are a few we found that we thought were nifty, helpful and worthy of sharing. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques to manage your family’s back to school schedule. You can reach out to other parents (IRL, through online groups, or by reading blog info online) to find out what worked for them for a particular challenge you are facing. But ultimately, it’s YOUR FAMILY, YOUR SOLUTIONS.  We are rooting for you and you kids to have a sane, successful and super start to the school year!

Note: we have no affiliation with and get no  incentive from any of the websites or products we list.

At happymomhacks.com website, a busy mom shares checklists she created with what kids need to bring to school and for after-school activities, as well as easy DIY homework stations & backpack storage ideas https://happymomhacks.com/how-to-be-organized/

Start the school year off right! Download this free book of invaluable back-to-school tools, and get more school and learning help from ADDitude via email.

Magnetic whiteboard for family organization:

Clothes Organization 

No Hassle Shoe Tying

For Easier Wake Ups- Sunrise Alarm Clock

Keep Art and Keepsake Papers organized

Visual Time Tracker for Homework or Chores

REFERENCES:

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