It may be hard to believe, but it’s time to think about school. Pretty soon, you’ll be taking those first-day pictures and sending your kids off for another year.
Here’s how to make the transition to your fall routine a painless one and ease your kids into a nice back-to-school routine.
Adjust your child’s bedtime.
Maybe you let your kids stay up a little later in the summer, and sleep in a little bit, too. (We did, too.) But it’s an easy fix to get them back on track.
- Start by moving summer bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night. Keep that up until you’re back to your child’s school bedtime.
- Not sure how to calculate the right time to go to sleep—especially if your child is pushing back at an earlier bedtime? Ideally, you want your child to get 9-10 hours of sleep, or at minimum 8, so set the school bedtime accordingly.
- A bedtime routine, such as bath time and reading can help. So can having the whole family unplug before bedtime. Choose a spot where everyone can charge their devices overnight to manage your child’s screentime.
Pro tip: Buy your child an alarm clock. Have him/her set alarms for bedtime warnings and for morning wakeups. That way, it’s the clock, and not mommy or daddy, alerting him or her that it’s bedtime. An alarm clock has the added bonus of reducing dependence on a cell phone as an alarm.
Organize your child’s closets.
You have a growing child. Chances are, his or her fall wardrobe from last year doesn’t fit anymore. The end of summer is a great time to clean out your child’s closet. A clean and organized closet will help your child more easily pick out clothes as part of his or her school routine.
- Have your child help you by sorting clothes that fit and don’t fit. Donate the ones your child has outgrown.
- Make a list of the clothes that need to be replaced.
- Organize the remainder of the closet to ensure easy access to shoes, clothes, and accessories. Clear out any items that don’t need to be kept there.
Go back-to-school shopping.
Once school starts again, schedules will become busy and it may be hard to find time to hang out together. Use back-to-school shopping as a special bonding time with each child.
- Schedule shopping trips sooner rather than later or you could be caught up in last-minute, pressure-filled moments rather than enjoyable ones.
- Shop for school clothes and supplies. Let your child choose his or her favorites, within your budget.
- Follow up the shopping trip with a nice lunch or special treat like ice cream. Use the time to chat with your child about his/her thoughts on the new school year.
- Make this a yearly tradition and you and your child will look forward to it for years to come.
Create a homework space.
Get your child thinking about school responsibilities by setting up a homework station. An inviting homework space might just entice your child to do his or her homework without nagging. (By the way, this is a good place for them to complete their summer reading if they haven’t done it.)
- Find a place in your home without distractions. Ensure that it has good light and comfortable seating.
- Equip it with the materials your child will need, such as pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, and paper.
- Make sure no clutter makes its way to the homework station. It should remain well-organized with just the tools needed.
- Set up clear expectations for homework. Reward a job well done.
Set a morning routine.
School mornings don’t have to be a stressful rush. With thoughtful pre-planning, you and your family can keep them under control.
- Think back to last year’s routine, and make any changes that would help create a calmer, happier morning. Consider new age-appropriate responsibilities as children mature.
- Make a morning list of responsibilities for each child. Provide simple easy-to-follow steps and discuss them with your child. Print them, laminate them and post them.
- Rehearse the new routine, with lots of praise and encouragement. Adjust as necessary.
Plan school lunches and snacks.
This is your chance to get healthier and more creative with your child’s school lunches and after-school snacks. Involving him or her in the process will make your child more likely to eat it, too.
- Research healthy lunch and snack ideas with your child. Write down ones that you both like.
- Consider creative packaging such as bento boxes.
- Create a snack station in your pantry and fridge where kids can grab granola bars or snacks, bags of fruit or veggies to add to their lunch or snack on when they get home.
Do a test run.
Chances are that your child is nervous about the new school year. It’s only normal. Try a practice day to get him or her more comfortable.
- Practice walking the route to school, especially if it’s new.
- Visit the school and take a tour. Find your child’s classroom, the bathroom, lunch room, etc. (Make sure to call ahead and arrange this visit with the school. You may even get to meet the teacher.)
- Let your child play in the school playground.
- Set up a playdate with future classmates.
Do something fun to celebrate the end of summer.
Finally, it’s the end of summer. Plan something fun to commemorate it. This can be an annual tradition each year before school starts.
- Plan a family beach day or favorite summer outing such as the zoo or amusement park.
- Plan an end-of-summer get-together with friends. Host a barbecue and make s’mores.
- Host an ice cream sundae celebration.
- Let your child choose a favorite summer activity to close out the season.
Your kids are only young once. Enjoy every moment!
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