Parents and kids everywhere are preparing to go back-to-school with lots of mixed emotions. As a Mom, I love spending time with my kids and summer time is a more relaxed, laid-back time of year for us. We don't have to get up early every morning and go through the usual morning rush and chaos that always seems to happen in my home.
On the other hand...there is only so many summertime activities and lazy days that can occupy and keep all of us content, so heading into a new school year is a welcomed event for the boys and me. Transitioning into a school routine takes not only time but effort and careful planning for all three of us and over the years I've come up with a few things that work for my family.
Re-establish Bed Times
Although there aren't strict bedtime rules during the summer, the schedule has been slightly off, so re-establishing a bedtime and waking up time is necessary and should be eased into rather than set into place the night before the first day of school. After a bath or shower, we lay down, relax and watch a bit of television or read a book. This gives my boys a chance to wind down before bedtime. I also talk to them about getting prepared for school to start and don't make going to bed early seem like punishment. I'm not saying it's an easy routine to reinstate, but it doesn't need to be stressful.
Once their bodies are used to an earlier bedtime, getting up earlier in the morning won't be a shock but rather a natural process. As with every year, my hopes are that our mornings become less eventful and stressful. A Mom can dream, can't she??
Jump Start Learning
I have four children and each one has a very unique personality and learning style. My oldest daughter loved to read and learn from an early age and never needed to be encouraged to do her school work or maintain her grades. My other daughter, who is two years younger, was equally intelligent but had no interest in school unless it was from a social aspect. She did exactly what she needed to do to keep her grades at an acceptable level and would rather be a social butterfly than a model student.
My two boys are both elementary age and again, both very different. My ten year old is very excited about learning new things and his summer always includes discussions and Internet searches about history and science. For instance, our family visited The Alamo in San Antonio this summer and it was the highlight of the weekend for him! Quite the opposite for my six year old as he is not at all interested in picking up a book during the summer. So a few weeks before school starts, I incorporate "fun" things into his day. I look for computer games or children's movies that entertain him but also teach him on a variety of subjects. It's a win-win situation!
Every year it seems that the list of supplies required for each child gets longer and longer (and more expensive!) As soon as I can locate a supply list either on the school website or in a local store, I begin buying things. I always seek out sales to trim the cost a bit and usually keep a stock-pile of the usual items that I've found on sale or clearance throughout the year.
I've found that one big expense for a high school student is a calculator. It's completely necessary and they really can't survive without it. Casio has a great line of scientific calculators that are completely affordable and meet the needs of your student from middle school through college level math. The Casio fx-300ESPLUS is an all purpose scientific calculator with 144 built in functions. It is available in pink or black (my girls would have insisted on PINK!) and is small enough to fit nicely into a backpack. It's designed for middle school and high school students who are enrolled in numerous math classes including Statistics and Physics. Awesome!
From my experience, shopping for younger children is so much easier and gets more entailed, stressful and expensive as they get older. Again, sales are a Mom's best friend as are coupons and online coupon codes. Paying full price for anything is not something I look forward to so I'm constantly scoping out the back-to-school promotions online and in-store.
Meet the Teacher
If your school offers a Meet the Teacher night, be sure to take advantage of this awesome opportunity to ease your child into the feel of a classroom. Especially when they are younger, it won't be such a shock on the first day of school if they already recognize the teacher and possibly a few new classmates. It's also a plus if they allow you to bring the school supplies to this event. Heavy, overloaded backpacks are not an ideal way start the school year so this option literally takes some of the weight off of your child's shoulders on the first day of school.
With a little preparation the new school year can start off on the right foot and hopefully continue on a positive note throughout the rest of the year. My goal is to send the kids ~ and myself ~ off in a happy frame of mind!