The kids are going back to school soon and that means time to say goodbye to lazy summer mornings and hello to routine, structure, and backpacks! With a little bit of preparation and organization now, you can cruise through the first few weeks of school with your sanity in place. A few years ago I posted my five favorite back to school sanity savers for Moms and kids on now defunct blog of mine, but decided this is too good not to share with my new readers!
Take Stock Before You Restock
I don’t know about you but when my kids came home on the last day of school with the contents of their desks in tow, I noticed something – that box of 12 colored pencils we “had” to have, still looked brand new! And so did half of the notebooks. Before you rush out to buy tons of new school supplies, take stock of what can be reused from last year. Then combine all your kids school supply lists into one and shop throughout the summer for items as they go on sale or buy them in bulk from my personal favorite online resources, Bulk Office Supplies or Discount School Supply (they stock allergy free and special needs art supplies).
The same thing goes for the kids clothes. Where we live the temps are warm enough in September for the kids to wear their summer clothes still – and my kids always seem to have a last minute growth spurt before the school year starts. Get the kids to try on their summer school clothes and items from last year and make a list of must buys and a list of buy once the weather cools down. I never buy my kids jeans before October – and then I wait for stores like Justice Girls Clothing (my girls favorite) to have their massive sales.
Post a routine
Kids always do better when they know what to expect! Help your kids (especially those Kindergarten and 1st Graders) develop a morning routine and practice it before school starts. I love charts that I can post on the refrigerator (remember my summer chore chart?) and I have created a very simple one that is picture-based so that kids of any age can go through it on their own. Yes, you can have one of your very own!! Download the morning routine reminder to hang on your own fridge.
Take it a week at a time
Use Sunday afternoons or evenings to get your week planned out. Keep the family schedule in a location that everyone can see. I have a Magnetic Dry Erase 3 in 1 Board by Board Dudes hanging in the mudroom so everyone can get a feel for the events of the week at a glance and its easy to change.
I also keep a planner on my desk. I just ordered the new MomAgenda Home Office edition because it has room for my schedule and notes, but also has space designated for each child and dinner and pockets for important papers, too. You can get them in a variety of sizes and fun colors. Everyone in the family knows to check the book for important phone numbers, general schedules and upcoming events, too.
Create a Backpack Zone
Find a location in your house that is convenient and create a backpack zone. In our house it is the mudroom. Backpacks, shoes and jackets all get parked there when not in use. It makes it much easier to find everything in the morning if you aren’t hunting high and low all over the house for it.
Create a Home Study Zone
Give your kids a regular spot for doing homework – somewhere with good lighting, minimal distractions, and access to the supplies they may need to get the tasks done. Our kitchen table is the homework zone. There is no TV near by, the kids have plenty of room to spread out and I can monitor their progress without having to sit right there with them.
Joe Bruzzesse of Our Thinking is a Middle School expert and author. He has created a list of supplies to keep on hand for homework and projects. We have a china cabinet in the kitchen that houses art and school supplies. This summer the area got a little out of control so I spent some time this weekend clearing it out and reorganizing. One bin contains paper, notebooks and journals. Another bin contains pencils, pens, crayons, markers, rulers, scissors, tape and such. The bottom cabinet holds art kits (translation – beads) and coloring books.
What are your best back to school tips? Feel free to share them in the comments!!