By Jennifer Halter
August is the month where many families start preparing for back to school time and getting back into routines. It’s not always an easy feat when the kids have been used to being on-the-go or having lazy days and just going with the flow. Instead of waiting until a few days before school is back in session to focus on the new normal, you can implement five fun strategies now, all while still soaking up all the fun that the last full month of summer has to offer.
1.Set up a schedule. Whether you have one child or a few, having a schedule is essential to making things run smoothly in your household. Have your children help develop their schedules for the new school year. Include a morning routine, specifics during their school day (highlight lunch and recess time—always favorites), afternoon routine, including homework, snack, etc., and continue through bedtime.
This will help them start to think about what their days will look like in a few weeks. Discuss how the days will be structured differently and the importance of following the schedule. But, don’t worry, you won’t have to start with the new schedule just yet. However, you may want to consider implementing earlier bedtimes and wake-up times a week or so before the first day of school. Make this a fun activity by letting your children design and decorate their schedules and display them in an area where they are visible on a daily basis.
2.Hit the books. With the hustle and bustle of the last few months, reading books may not have been a top priority on your child’s daily to-do list. Spend the next few weeks reading to or with your
children to get them back into this habit. Allow for 10-15 minutes of reading time each day. For children who may be anxious about starting school (especially if it’s their first time), there are great, age-appropriate books that address this issue that may help. Ask your local librarian for suggestions. To make this more exciting for your children, have them track their reading time or number of books on a chart that once completed, they can submit to you for a fun treat, such as an ice cream date or dinner at their favorite restaurant once school is back in session.
3.Conduct an “All About My Summer” interview. One of the most exciting parts about going back to school is sharing what you did all summer with friends and teachers. Since there’s still some summer left, ask your children now what they experienced up to this point, what they loved the most and what they would like to do with their remaining time on break. Not only will this prepare them for answering
those questions once the school bell rings, but it will also give you time to plan some last-minute adventures for them based on what they share with you.
4.Shop and show. Make going back to school fun by planning a fun shopping trip to get all of the essentials. If you have multiple children, try to take each child individually, so each of them can have
some personal time with you. Make a list of clothing items, shoes, supplies, etc. you will need and provide
your child with a budget—and stick to it. Being clear about your spending expectations upfront will help
avoid meltdowns at the mall later. Once home, have your child help with labeling supplies and packing his
or her backpack. For younger children, talk about what each item can be used for, and if it’s a supply sharing classroom, explain how they will be giving their items to the class for all students to use. After you’ve prepped and packed, have some fun by presenting a first-day-of-school fashion show. Even if your children wear uniforms to school, this is a great opportunity to do a doublecheck to make sure everything fits well and allow them to show off their new shoes, fun accessories or their backpacks.
5.Visit the school. Call your school to see when it’s possible for you to come by for a visit. This is especially important for children who are going to school for the first time or transitioning to a new school. Seeing inside of the building and meeting teachers and administrators can help calm any nerves
that you and your child may have. Take photos of the classroom, cafeteria, gym and library, etc., to help your child become acclimated to these common areas. A fun follow-up activity is to have your child tell or write a story about what he or she experienced. Ask questions such as, “What are you most excited about?” or “What makes you nervous?” about going back to school. During the time leading up to the first day, talk about these things to keep them excited or to put their minds at ease.
Jennifer Halter (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the founder of Macaroni Kid in Woodbridge and Gainesville.