Summer fun is drawing to a close and the first day of school, for many, has arrived – or is fast looming.
A few simple steps can help take the stress out of back-to-school drama and make the transition from play time to study time much smoother and easier.
If you give yourself some time to prepare in advance, you and your kids will be all the better for it.
Don’t go shopping… yet!
It’s tempting to rush out to the stores while the back-to-school sales are on. The problem is that it’s easy to get caught up in all the great offers and forget what you really need – and don’t need.
The first step, instead, should be to take stock of what’s already in your house. How’s that uniform fitting? Is the mountain of pens, pencils, rulers, glue and tape sufficient or should you get rid of the junk and buy a few specifically needed items?
Assess your school stocks and supplies first – then decide what you need to buy.
Create at-home ‘school zones’
There are two main zones you need to prepare in your home: The Dump Zone and The Homework Zone.
Kids need a dedicated place right by the door for them to drop school bags, sports equipment, shoes, clothes, and so on. Establish a zone that’s all for them.
Find a couple of good hooks for hanging jackets and backpacks; a cubbie for them to throw their book bags in; a small bench for them to sit on to take off wet shoes; and a spot to hang hats and jumpers on.
Next, make sure there’s one place – preferably not the kitchen table – where homework will be done. Some things to keep in mind are good lighting, access to organised school supplies, and a bookcase nearby for them to store their work.
Consider whether you want to have a computer there or not – depending on your child, it can be a great resource or a great time waster.
Prepare-ahead for the next morning
It’s a great idea to get your kids in the habit of taking 10 minutes every night to plan out the day ahead.
Encourage them to switch off the TV and enjoy some screen-free time in their bedroom arranging their homework so it’s in one place. Then – if they’re the messy type – help them sort out their wardrobe so their school clothes can be crease-free for the morning.
Decide what you’ll do for breakfast and lunch, so the morning school run can be as hassle-free as possible and you can all get out the door on time.
Take learning outside
Once your brood are back home, set them up with creative after-school activities, which they can do in the backyard or on your patio. For example, fun craft activities, dress-up games and mini role plays – or, if you have play equipment, let them design an action-packed course.
Also remember: Success isn’t just about learning.
Make sure you’re kids are eating well, drinking a lot of water, and getting a good night’s sleep. Good habits of organisation will help ensure you all have a happy school year ahead.