Back to School Season: How to Prepare Your Crew

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By Jennifer Halter

It’s already time to start thinking about heading back to school. Whether your children will be returning to
the classroom or learning virtually, it’s a good idea to start getting them back into routines now to help smooth the transition from those lazy summer days. Here are a few ideas you can implement to make things easier for everyone, all while still soaking up all the fun the last month of summer has to offer.

Set Up a Schedule

Whether you have one child or several, a schedule is essential to running a smooth household. Include your
children in mapping out their schedules for the new school year. Set up a morning routine, which should
include wake-up times, specific tasks (dressing, brushing teeth, making beds, etc.), a time for breakfast (if they eat at home), and a set time they need to leave the house, whether it’s to catch the bus, walk to school or hop in the car to be dropped off. Also, include specifics during their school day if you know them (highlight lunch and recess time — always favorites). Finally, discuss the afternoon routine, including homework, snack, etc., and continue through bedtime.

Having a schedule in place, even if it’s a work in progress, will help your children start to think about what their days will look like in a few weeks. But don’t worry, you won’t have to start with the new schedule just
yet. There are still vacation days to enjoy! 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.

Read a Little More

back to school,notebooks

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. Set a goal to have your child read or you read to your child for at least 15 minutes each day over the next few weeks to help them get back into the habit.

If you have a child who may be anxious about starting school (especially if it’s their first time), there are great, age-appropriate books that address this issue. Ask your local librarian for suggestions. Want to add a fun incentive for reading this month? Have your child track their reading time or number of books read on a chart. Once they meet the requirements that you have set for them, they can submit their progress to you for a fun treat, such as an ice cream date or dinner from their favorite restaurant once school is back in session.

Visit the School

For some children, heading back to school could be the first time they’ve been inside of their school in well
over a year. That alone can trigger so many emotions, ranging from excitement to fear. One way to help
with this is to visit the school prior to the first day. Call your school to see if it is possible for you to come by.
Being inside the building and meeting teachers and administrators can help calm any nerves your child may have. Ask if you can take photos of the classroom, cafeteria, gym and library, etc., to help your child become acclimated to these common areas. And be sure to check out the playground while you’re there!

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.

Prepare for Virtual Learning

Virtual learning is an option many parents are choosing for their children again this year, whether through
the public school system or through an independent organization. One way to prepare is to set up a designated learning space in your home. Allow your child to choose decorations and other fun supplies for their area — let them get creative and really make it their own! Print out schedules and log-in information for classes, and keep them in a small binder or displayed on a corkboard for easy access. Make an effort to join any online training sessions offered by your learning institution that will help you and your child with logging on to their classes. Be sure to practice before the first day.

Any bit of preparation you can squeeze into this month will help set your child up for success for the new school year. But the most important thing is to enjoy this break and get excited for new adventures to come!

Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.

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