By the end of the summer, many kids have put homework, math problems and other thoughts of school completely out of their heads. Yet school will start before you know it, and even for the best student, getting organized before that ever-exciting first day of school will make adjusting to a new grade that much easier.
Here are ten ways you can help your child get organized for the upcoming school year, so that those first few weeks of classes are less stressful and more fun!
- Find ways to incorporate learning into day-to-day activities so basic math and English skills aren’t lost. If you’re on a road trip, play the “alphabet” game where everyone in the car tries to find each letter of the alphabet on road signs and license plates. When you’re baking, have your child measure ingredients. If your school doesn’t provide a suggested reading list, visit the library and pick books that go along with your child’s interest and reading level. Read a book as a family, and discuss it in your own “book group.” Try to plan excursions to local museums with kid-friendly exhibits to spark your child’s natural curiosity.
- Together, go through closets and drawers, and have your child try on school clothes and shoes from last year. Toss or give away what doesn’t fit, and make a shopping list of necessary articles. Whether your school requires a uniform or simply special clothes for P.E., it will help your child feel ready for the start of school with well-fitting school clothes—and most importantly—comfortable, school-appropriate shoes.
- Summer is the best time to buy school supplies. Lunch boxes, notebooks, pencils, binders, and markers are all on sale now. Take advantage of coupons you’ll find in the paper or that come in the mail. Review your school’s list of necessary supplies. Some items will have to wait until your child meets his teachers, but the basics can be purchased early. While your child may want to wait to see what style of backpack other kids are using this fall, it makes sense to buy a resilient backpack or book bag ahead of time.
- Make sure your child’s physical examinations and immunizations are up to date. Many schools require a record of shots such as tetanus boosters signed by the doctor before school opens. Most schools will send out forms to be filled out in August. But some school districts post these online so you can be ahead of the game.
- Take your son or daughter to the grocery store to pick out snacks and lunch items you both like. Discuss what kind of sandwiches, fruit, and treats will make lunchtime enjoyable for your child. This is a great time to talk about sending “green” lunches to school by packing food in reusable plastic containers rather than individually pre-packaged snacks. Buy a stainless steel or non-BPH water bottle for water breaks throughout the day.
- Create a special space at home designated for everything that goes to school. Eliminate the morning stress of trying to find lunchboxes or notebooks by having a bin, shelf, or cubby where all school-related paraphernalia lives, from sports equipment and P.E. shorts, to binders, calculators, books, backpacks, and jackets. Even umbrellas, rain boots, and mittens should have their place there during the fall and winter months.
- Plan ahead. To ease morning chaos, have your child spend time each evening making sure everything he needs is packed and ready to go for the next morning, including papers that need to be signed by a parent. Lay out the outfit for the next day. Some parents find it simplest to let their freshly bathed preschoolers sleep in a comfy t-shirt and sweat pants or leggings that can go right to school.
- Create a comfortable, quiet study area. Whether it’s the kitchen counter or a bedroom desk, your child should do homework in the same spot every night. Make sure supplies such as scissors, tape, glue, dictionaries, and rulers, are close at hand.
- Start a fall calendar. Either a poster-sized wall calendar or a large whiteboard from the office-supply store will work.Start filling in important dates such as music lessons and sports practices. You can add in birthday parties and school events as they arise. Go over the week’s schedule with your child to lessen anxiety, and to make sure you’re all prepared.
- Re-establish earlier bedtimes. To avoid first-week grogginess, start getting your child to bed closer to his school night bedtime at least a week before school begins. Wake your son or daughter up earlier each morning as well, so it doesn’t feel like it’s still nighttime on one of the most exciting days of the year!