Staples Business Depot’s iconic 1996 commercial, featuring an exuberant dad back-to-school shopping with his not-so-enthusiastic kids, captures the feeling of relief felt by many parents at the end of summer.
However, the daily school routine comes with its own organizational challenges for both adults and children. So before you start singing from the rooftops, take some time to prepare a back-to-school plan that will make everyone happy to be hitting the books this fall.
Start a back-to-school routine
Routine is important for school-aged children. Two weeks before school starts, re-introduce kids to a typical school day schedule. Younger children in particular will benefit from earlier bedtimes, while teenagers should be gradually woken up closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins. Make sure you leave enough time for things like breakfast, bathroom time and the trip to the bus stop.
As the week progresses, you can make adjustments to ensure everyone has plenty of time to get ready.
Create a centralized school calendar
Keeping track of parent-teacher meetings, band rehearsals and hockey practices can seem like an impossible task.
Take some of the stress out of after-school scheduling by creating a one-stop calendar for events and deadlines. The calendar should be prominent, easy to use and utilize a format that everyone is comfortable with. (A large dry-erase board or a 12-month paper calendar works serves as an excellent visual reminder for younger children, while older kids may benefit from email or text-based reminders).
Make the calendar part of your daily routine: Get in the habit of adding events to the calendar as soon as you hear about them (older children can help with posting duties). Talk to your kids about upcoming events so they won’t forget.
Organize your back-to-school shopping
Involve your kids in back-to-school shopping by having them help you prepare a shopping list before you hit the mall. This (hopefully) will prevent in-store arguments and tantrums.
Most schools will provide you with a list of required back-to-school supplies, which can serve as a starting point for back-to-school shopping.
With clothing, clear out some space in your kids’ wardrobe before going on a spending spree. Go through each item in your child’s closet, setting aside anything your child has outgrown (older children can help with this). Discard or donate anything your child will no longer wear.
Don’t go overboard buying stuff you think your child might need. Instead, wait until the first week of school to purchase any items you may have left off the list.
Gather your documents
Now is the time to start looking for vaccination records, birth certificates, doctors notes and other documents your child might require for school. Make photocopies of these documents before you send them off to school. Check your school’s website to make sure you have everything necessary to start the year off right!