The back-to-school chatter has begun. School supply ads are all over the place. Notebooks and pens are taking over the seasonal aisle, pushing beach towels and water balloons aside to the clearance rack.
As much as some of us would like to put off the school prep until absolutely necessary, it helps the entire family to begin the back-to-school tasks now. Getting a head start helps in two ways: not only will the days before school be less hectic in your house, but your kids will also be better mentally prepared if you start talking about the school year with them now.
We engaged some moms to help us compile a handy back-to-school checklist to keep your family on track:
- Have you received your child’s school supply list yet? If not, check to see if it’s posted on the school’s website. Sales on supplies and clothing often pop up around this time. Check the paper and online for where and when to get the best deals.
- Do your kids’ school clothes and shoes fit? Especially if your children wear uniforms, have them try on clothes and shoes from last year and make a list of new items needed. Keep in mind lots of families are shopping right now, so stores might run out of the sizes you need if you wait too long to start shopping.
Helpful Hint: Include your children in at least one back-to-school shopping trip. Have them help choose a backpack, notebooks, or trendy folders or pencils needed for school. Allowing kids to make some of their own choices can help build excitement as well as lower anxiety levels.
- Have the kids had their annual well-child checkups over the past year? Are they up to date on their immunizations? Vaccine requirements vary by state. Check with your child’s school or pediatrician if you have questions.
- For fall athletics, are any sports physicals needed? Get any necessary forms in order before the deadlines hit.
- Do your kids pack their lunch? Start gathering ideas for healthy lunches. Consider making a menu plan with the kids so they don’t get bored with the same lunch day after day. Do some bulk shopping to get favorite foods in advance of the first day. (And consider a lunch box note to add a little love to their lunch.)
- Are your kids properly rested? Remind them the late nights and sleeping in will come to an end soon. Work on slowly getting them into a good school sleep routine. The CDC says sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of good health and chronic disease prevention. Individual sleep needs vary, but in general children ages 6-12 years old need 10-11 hours of sleep a night. Tweens and teens up to age 18 do best with 9 to 9-1/2 hours per night.
Helpful hint: Flu shots will be available soon. Make a note in your calendar to schedule flu vaccines for the whole family in about a month.
A Prepared Mind
- Have required summer reading and/or other summer academic assignments been completed? Check in with your children to see progress being made and be encouraging about their efforts thus far.
- Are you starting to talk to your kids about the upcoming school year? Experts agree one of the best ways for parents to help kids is by taking time to listen to their concerns. It’s important to keep your school talk positive. Reflect with your children on the fun you’ve had this summer while at the same time focusing on the opportunities for the upcoming grade.
Helpful Hint: For younger kids, help ease jittery nerves by reading age-appropriate books that deal with going off to school. There are oodles out there. Some good ones to start with are The Kissing Hand, Curious George’s First Day of School, Franklin’s First Day at School, and Vera’s First Day of School.
Get That Calendar In Shape
- For some families, it’s easier to schedule appointments before the school year starts. Check your calendar to see if you want to get in one last haircut, dentist visit or orthodontist appointment.
- Go through the school calendar and put important dates on your family calendar so events like Meet the Teacher Night and school photos don’t come as a surprise.
Helpful Hint: Whether you have a wall calendar or an electronic version, let the kids help with inputting dates to get them excited about school events for the upcoming year.
Add Some Fun
- The start of the school year can bring with it a lot of emotions for everyone in the family: excitement, worry, sadness. Consider a fun first-day-of-school tradition to give the whole family something to look forward to.
- Surprise your child with a snazzy new school supply (think cool set of pens) by their cereal bowl in the morning.
- After you take your children’s first day photos, turn things around and let them snap silly shots of you.
- Have a special snack after school in honor of the big day.
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