It’s that time of year again; kids in K-12 will be back to school on Monday, August 22nd. I have two boys. One is entering 2nd grade and the other is entering 6th grade. Both my boys are excited, afraid and sad about starting school again. The boy starting junior high still gets very upset whenever I mention it. But then, he reminds me that he is not a child anymore and that he can stay up late. Jokes on him now ‘cause, even if I agreed, he can’t stay up late anymore.
Me? I’m a stay-at-home mom so I’m happily counting the hours and minutes until 8:22 am on Monday, August 22nd. Why? I can’t remember what quiet time means anymore.
Getting Ready for Getting To and From School
Even adults without children are dreading the first day of school. Traffic is much, much worse with working parents racing to drop off kids as well as stay at home parents driving during rush hour once again.
Start going to bed earlier and waking up sooner now so the first day is less shocking. Pick a morning for a “dry run” with getting dressed, eating, packing up and driving to the school. Junior high and elementary school are one hour apart; junior high starts earlier so I do need to have a “dry run.” Also, I know there will be some mornings when the younger one rides along in pajamas. Allow some wiggle room in planned departure times just in case.
Check now for bus routes. The bus is a great option if you live far enough away for your child’s school to provide a bus. Most school districts have this information on their website. Look it up and see. When my oldest started kindergarten, I was driving him to the school because I had to get to work. After five days of pulling out of my driveway just to wait for the bus to load up, I checked with the school. The bus left early enough so I could be at work on time. It was easier and it saved me the expense of before school care.
A big positive for working parents is that before and/or after school is less expensive than full day summer camp.
Lunches – To Pack or Not To Pack
My children will have a mix of buying school lunches and carrying a packed lunch since neither boy has any food allergies nor does either one have a weight problem. Not all families are so lucky. There are also some families with dietary restrictions so they may have to pack lunches. Schools are sensitive to food allergies which cuts both ways. Vegetarian children may need to pack nuts for protein yet peanut allergies are quite deadly. Check with your child’s school now to learn about restrictions for packed lunches.
Meet the Teacher
Crucial is the best description for this event. You and your child will see the classroom, organize school supplies and talk with the new teacher. Lots of valuable information is given out and requested. I never miss these because it saves a lot of hassle with phone calls, digging through school websites and possibly missing out on something essential.
- Have questions ready.
- Bring school supplies. Usually, some of the supplies are for the teacher so this is the best time to separate out the supplies or, for secondary students, set up the locker and stock it with the supplies. Less stuff to carry in on the first day of school is helpful.
- Most teachers also collect information on how your child will arrive and depart from school. Check for bus routes before the scheduled “Meet the Teacher” event. Bring along the contact information for the before/after school care entity.
- Have emergency contact names and phone numbers. Most teachers collect that information for their reference and for the administrative staff.
- Do you want to volunteer for room parent or classroom reader? A sign up is usually available so, again, this is the best time to give that information.
Lots of other classroom tasks happen like signing up on birthday lists so make the most of this time. Talk with the teacher but please don’t hog the teacher’s time to the extent that no other parent gets to talk with the teacher. A lot needs to happen during this event and most classes have at least twenty children. Schools usually end the event on time so keep that in mind.
Goal Setting for the New School Year
Teachers have their lessons set and ready. Take some time to set a plan with your child.
Collaborate with your Child
Find out what he or she is most nervous about. Your child may be more worried about their best subject than their worst one. What does your child want to accomplish? What you do expect your child to accomplish? Collaborate so both of you understand the expectations.
Be Realistic yet Firm
Not everyone can be a straight A student, star athlete or most artistic. Set grade goals on the high side of your child’s abilities so they have a challenge.
Find Time for Fun or Exploration
Find an after-school activity that will be a stress reliever. Whether dance, scouting, sports, or some other non-academic pursuit, children need variety and need to try new things that are not graded in school.
Enjoy seeing your child learn new things, tackle the fear of a new group of classmates and teachers, and grow up a bit more into the terrific future adult they will become.
Give support where needed but take a step back so your child can develop some independence. The hours in school are separate and distinct from family time. It gives parents and children a break from each other. I know I will both miss my little tornadoes and revel in the freedom of kid free time.
How are you and your child(ren) coping with back to school? Any suggestions or tips to share? Post in the comments below.
– By Cynthia Marple