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Back To School Tips For Kids AND Parents

August 25, 2010 · 91 comments

in Misc Tips, Parenting

Going back to school is always a time of adjustment.  However, it isn’t just the kids that can have a hard time handling the change of schedule and increase in commitments.  Parents can also have a difficult time.

I always struggle with change and the kids returning to school.  Summer is a season of fun for us, and settling back into the routine of getting up early, packing lunches, and studying is faced with dread.  However, it is a necessary evil that we all must accept.

To help ease the transition from summer vacation to school, I have written up some tips that hopefully everyone in the family can benefit from:

Tips for helping the kids:

  1. Don’t let the kids stay up super-late that last week of summer.  I know you may be tempted to squeeze in every last minute of fun (I am very guilty of that), but structure needs to be reintroduced before school starts so that the first day of school is not a killer.
  2. Make sure all books/supplies are bought well in advance so there isn’t a last minute rush to Staples the day before school starts.  (Not to mention you will probably miss all the ‘before school’ sales that are going on right now if you wait too long.)
  3. If your child is headed to middle school or high school, see if you can access the school before the first day.  This is especially helpful if your child already has their schedule.  One huge anxiety about school is getting from class-to-class, so if you can show your child ahead of time that it can be done, it should ease some of their worries on the first day of school.
  4. Have an electronics-free study space designated for each child.  Have your child help design his or her own study space, which will hopefully get your child a little more interested in settling in and doing their homework when the time comes.  I know so many kids that do their homework near a computer, which is a recipe for disaster.  (Unless they are writing a paper, obviously.)  The temptation of Facebook is so great that many kids only focus on homework for a few minutes at a time because they are constantly looking at Facebook updates.  (Or Twitter, or whatever social media they are into at the moment.)

Tips For Parents:

  1. If you are a stay at home parent, you too may need to adjust your schedule ahead of time and start getting to bed earlier.  (That would be me…)  You don’t want that first day of school to be started with crabbiness and rushing because you didn’t get enough sleep!
  2. Involve your kids in lunch planning and preparing.  Unless your kids are incredibly young, they can help pack lunches.  As a side note, I highly recommend packing lunches instead of buying a school lunch.  Packing a lunch is cheaper, and most likely healthier- unless you consider Doritos a main course at your house.
  3. Be extra patient those first couple weeks of school.  If you are feeling any anxiety about your child growing up and heading off to school, imagine how nervous they must feel.  Combine anxiety with less sleep and the general rigors of school, and your child may not be at their best.  Even if they are really crabby, just take a deep breath.  Your child may not even understand why they feel the way they do.  So, just give them a snack and have a chat instead of losing your temper.
  4. Get everyone up early enough so there is plenty of time to get everything done calmly in the morning.  (Including eating a healthy breakfast.)  It ruins everyone’s day when mom or dad is just barking orders and rushing out the door.
  5. Pack all uniforms, homework, etc the night before.  This will hopefully reduce the  number of times you are forced to run up to the school to hand in a forgotten permission slip or whatever was needed that day.
  6. If you are a stay at home parent, try to get as many of the household things done during the day while the kids are at school.  Kids can be pretty needy those first couple weeks, so try to be as available as possible.  If you drive your kids to school, it is a great time to connect with them since they are a captive audience in the car.  So, take advantage and find out what really went on with their day.  I have found that I get so much more out of the conversation if I ask specific questions than if I just ask ‘how was your day’.

Do you have any back to school tips?  If so, please leave a comment!  I hope everyone enjoys the remaining days of summer vacation!!

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

Dianna August 25, 2010 at 8:19 am

You hit the nail on the head. I know that I am having a harder time getting ready this year than the kids. Middle school nerves and wondering what life will be like living in the car…need to stock up on audiobooks I guess! Enjoy the last days of summer!

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Everyday Tips August 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

Dianna, I totally have a hard time when school starts each year. I have been through both the transition of going to middle school and high school, and it can be hard. But, you both get through it, and it is also another great phase of life.

Regarding living in the car, I will be writing a post on that soon. I spend so much time in my car, I think I need a refrigerator installed.

Good luck with school, and enjoy your last days of freedom! 🙂

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Little House August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

Tips for Kids numbers 3 and 4 are great. I teach in an elementary school, but I know that the 5th graders sort of freak out about moving on to middle school because the campus is so much larger and more complex. The week or two before school starts, campuses are usually open because staff is preparing their classrooms. If parents can take their kids around the campus, it means less anxiety the first week of school. Also, showing them how to use a combination lock on a locker would be beneficial as well if they are just beginning middle school!

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Kris August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Little House – I totally remember trying to figure out my combination lock, and I ever remember the combination from 7th grade (36-15-27)!

Kids do feel so much stress crossing over into those milestones. I remember it like it was yesterday…

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Money Reasons August 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Even though I hate it when the kids go back to school, I try to act like it’s a great thing (because in many ways it is). I try not to convey that I wish they were not going yet; and I ask they how there day was when I come home.

I think if you act like it’s great (and not a sad moment), the kids pick up on that and enjoy school more.

When I was a kid, certain family members (aunts, uncles and even my mom) always reminded me how they though school sucked, and that tarnished my outlook of going back to school each year. This make a huge difference (or so I believe).

We try to pick up each kid at least 1 day each week early. Just to get out a little sooner and make it something to look forward to.

4. Have an electronics-free study space designated for each child.
This is a great idea! Especially including them in the creation of the space!

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Kris August 25, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Money Reasons – I am probably guilty of ‘bummerizing’ the start of school. My kids are older now though, and they just know it is because we hate giving up our fun. But when my kids started school, or transitioned to a new school, I was always being fake and acting like it would be the best thing in the world, even though it made me sad inside.

Sounds like you do a very good job with the kiddos!

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

The not-staying-up-late part was the most important when I was a kid. I was always excited to go back to school and see all of my friends, so adrenaline worked for the first few days, but then I’d crash hard. I know, I liked going back and that makes me the weirdo, lol. 🙂

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics August 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Tip #4 for helping the kids is really great! Adults could use that as well… I might get more work done!

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The Biz of Life August 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I agree…. tip #4 for kids is a must.

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Squirrelers August 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

For my 2nd grader, we try to get her excited by talking about friends at school, and how she’ll be a bigger girl now than the 1st graders. She was ambivalent about school starting, but now that it just started, she seems totally fine.

I tried to prep her by getting her to do some reading and basic math as school was upcoming. That’s another thing to do to help them get back into the swing of things.

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Sandy L August 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Good timing on the post since my #1 son is starting kindergarten this year.

We go to bed early but then end up reading til way past bedtime. Gotta start the stories about an hour sooner I guess.

I have to travel for work, so unfortunately, I’ll miss his first couple of days of school. boo hoo.

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Kris August 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Sandy – Sorry about you having to travel for the first day of school!

Even though my kids are older, we need to start the routine earlier than we do. We always end up staying up chatting and next thing I know, it is way later than I intended. But it is hard for me to say ‘no’ to conversation.

I have wonderful memories of reading to my kids, it was a wonderful part of their childhood. Keep it up!!

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Erik Franzbrandt August 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

This is a great post. Getting the kids involved (if they are old enough) will help make the transition back to school a lot smoother.

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Mike - Saving Money Today August 30, 2010 at 10:14 am

What if you buy all the school supplies so far in advance that you forgot where you put them?? I’ve got less than 2 weeks to find them! 🙂

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Kris August 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Mike, my son was looking for notebooks yesterday and actually found them himself. (shocking!) They were still in the Target bag in the office. Yep, we were prepared ahead of time by buying everything, but we kinda forgot to organize it all the day before school!

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