“Hurry up, we’re going to be late…..again.” If this is a phrase you find yourself repeating every morning, use these helpful tips to prepare for back to school and learn a better morning routine.
Paperwork – Depending on the age of your child, the paperwork to be eligible for school may be minimal or mindboggling. Create a folder for each child and follow the checklist provided for their grade. Complete required forms, scan a copy for yourself and then turn in the paperwork prior to the deadline. Be sure to leave enough time to make necessary pediatrician appointments.
Once the “start of school” paperwork is complete you can use the folders to avoid ongoing paper overload with a “central command” for incoming information. Develop an Action, File and Reference folder for each member of the family and as papers come in, ensure they are placed directly in the file. Allocate time each week for these folders to be actioned and stick to it.
School supplies – Your school likely offers a list of supplies required for your child by grade. Sort your current supplies to determine what you actually need and then fill in the gaps.
Wardrobe – Use this time of year to go through each child’s closet and try on clothes to determine what fits, what can be passed on to a younger sibling and what needs to be donated. No child can be expected to get dressed in time if they have to sift through clothes they have outgrown or aren’t appropriate for the season. Start with your oldest child’s room to ensure you can efficiently integrate hand-me-downs. Seasonal clothes can be placed in a labeled storage box on a high shelf and small clothes can be transitioned to a younger sibling or donated. Based on the items remaining, create a list of required items to purchase. When placing items in the closet, store like with like and arrange by color.
Equipment – Kids may need a book bag or backpack, lunchbox and drink bottle. The options are endless but be sure each item has enough space to house what needs to be carried and shows off a little bit of the personality of your child. Organize within each space so things don’t get lost. For example, book bags might need smaller zipper bags or plastic storage bins to contain pens, hold keys or other items that tend to get lost in a big compartment. Lunch bags may need sandwich boxes or snack containers. Teach your kids to be consistent about where they put items so they find them easily.
Equipment Space - Ensure no one forgets their lunch or homework by creating an exit space for every member of the family. Whether they get their own cubby or a bin by the door, they should have a spot to put anything that needs to go with them for the day. Younger kids may need a checklist of items that need to be placed there for each day of the week. As much as possible, prepare the exit space the night before.
To keep school books and library books separate from your home collection, you may store them in a bin labeled appropriately.
Nourishment – If students are not eating a lunch provided by the school, you will need to pack a lunch each day. Create a place within the pantry and fridge for school lunch options. When you return from grocery shopping, portion lunch components into individual servings that can be compiled the night before.
Schedules – From sleep habits to after school sports, keeping to a schedule is important.
Sleep habits. Many kids get to stay up late and sleep in during the summer. A sudden return to an early morning wake-up will create cranky mornings and sleepy schooldays. About a week before school starts, gradually transition bedtime and wakeup routines to look more and more like the ideal school day.
Morning Routine. While you’re adjusting the timing of your routine, start to practice the critical aspects required to get to school on time. For example, getting dressed immediately upon wake-up, setting the table for breakfast and getting teeth brushed. If there are elements to the routine that will be new, like a walk to a new bus stop or a new drop off location, walk or drive it to confirm the time you need to stay on schedule. Younger kids may benefit from having their routine written (or drawn) as a checklist.
Calendar. Families are incredibly busy and it can be a full time job to track schedules. Create a family calendar so the entire schedule is communicated to every member of the family. Whether it is an old school calendar placed at “central command” and color coded by family member or a shared calendar in the cloud, family members should develop a habit of adding appointments to the calendar as soon as confirmed and cross checking weekly.
Homework - Ensure kids have a designated space to do homework. Clear out the broken pencils and empty bottles of glue to make space for this year’s supplies. If the space must be shared (ie is also the dining table), create a homework caddy that has all the required supplies but can be easily moved when it is time to eat. For older kids, you can include a folder for each subject to organize important reference materials or completed assignment. Determine the timing for homework that will produce the best results for each child. Introduce a planner to even young children so they can start to practice keeping track of deadlines and understanding timeline expectations.