Back to School Simple Routines & Organization for the Best Year
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It’s that time of year again, scrambling to buy uniforms, last minute school supplies and get all those forms filled out in time…. It’s back to school time. After a long summer break it’s often difficult to get back into the routine of school days. With lunches to pack, kids to dress and homework to finish, back to school time can get a little hectic without a plan. That is what I’m going to give you today a plan so it will be a simple transition for you.
Now, in case you didn’t know I actually homeschool and have for about 17 years now, but my older kids did go to public school for a little while. I even spent time teaching in both public and private school for a little while. But, once my last baby was born in 2001 I decided homeschooling was what was best for our family. I haven’t regretted it since!
One of my favorite times of year has always been going back to school. I’ve always loved the shopping frenzy, setting up the schoolroom, and going through my lesson plans, but probably the favorite thing is getting back into a routine.
5 Tips for establishing a back to school routine
#1 Make a list –
Make one list per child of everything he or she will need for their first day of school such as lunch boxes, gym clothes, and school supplies. Your Kindergartener will have different needs than your sixth grader so it helps to plan ahead. Check things off your list as you purchase or get them ready for back to school.
#2 Establish a Bedtime Routine –
A few days before school starts try to start establishing a bedtime routine. If your kids already have one that’s great but if you’ve been a little relaxed over the summer break it’s probably best to slowly get them back into the routine. Talk about the importance of getting enough sleep so that they can feel good at school and try to stick to a schedule.
#3 Get a Calendar –
A much needed back to school item is a good size family calendar. You will want to put it up in a prominent place in your kitchen or other main room in the house. Then, write down any important dates such as teacher-parent meetings or deadlines for taking certain things into school. During the first days back to school especially, you’ll be getting lots of notes and reminders. So it’s good to have a system in place before school starts.
I suggest a reusable one to hang on the wall or refrigerator. My favorite is this black chalkboard from Amazon. Check it out here: Wall Calendar Black Chalkboard
#4 Schedule Tasks –
Family life doesn’t always go by plan, but try to set a flexible schedule for certain tasks such as homework times. Plan ahead so that you can fit in homework and dinner times around the kid’s extracurricular activities without having to rush too much.
Kids get tired and if they’re rushing from one place to the other, they will be less than agreeable when they then need to sit down and do their homework. By setting a flexible schedule and meal planning you can avoid a lot of unnecessary disagreements.
#5 Plan Ahead –
Preparing things the night before will alleviate a lot of morning stress. Leave your kids clothes ready for the next day, prepack their lunches, make sure their school bags are packed. Come morning, both you and the kids will be a lot more relaxed if you don’t have to rush.
5 Tips for Handling All Those Activities
As if the day-to-day activity of going back to school isn’t enough, some children will join clubs, a band, cheerleading, or an organized sport. Then you have to figure out a way of handling all those activities and still making sure your child gets their school work done. Below are some ideas to help you make handling all those activities seem like a breeze.
#1 Make the family the priority.
Yes, it’s true that as children go through their school years they will find more and more extra-curricular activities they would like to be involved in. Instead of allowing them to be involved in them all, tell them you expect them to be home to eat with the family. Your family is more important than one more school activity.
#2 School work is next in importance.
No matter how well your child plays a sport, be sure that they do their school work well. Being talented in sports may be something to work on, but having an education is even more important.
#3 Limit the number of activities.
If allowed to, a student could become involved in any number of school clubs and sports teams. Even though they won’t like it, limit the number of activities to one that meets during school hours (a club) and one that meets after school hours (like sports or band).
#4 Be involved in your child’s activities.
If you’re involved with your student’s activities, it will show that you support them. It will also allow you to know when your child will be practicing. You will also know if they have to travel out of town, and what other requirements they may have.
#5 Mark your calendar.
Having a family calendar will help make sure you or your child doesn’t miss an important event. Make sure your kids have access to the calendar so they can add items when they find out about them. This will help you to avoid having two events on one day. If nothing else, you’ll know what times you have activities.
#6 Encourage outside-of-school friendships.
Allow your children to spend time with friends outside of school. Perhaps you could have a couple of friends over for a weekend afternoon or allow your child to go to their friend’s house. Becoming friends with the family would be another way to encourage friendships. Our house was always that house in the neighborhood where all the kids gathered. It may seem like chaos at first, but you will cherish those times as they get older.
Sports, band, cheerleading, and school clubs are all important activities. However, they pale in comparison to time with the family and doing school work. Learn that handling all those activities doesn’t have to be difficult. A family calendar gives you a place to keep track of them all.
Helping Your Kids Get Organized with Their School Stuff
Now, I want to share with you are some strategies that will help you help your kids organize their school work to lead to success in school. Kids are naturally unorganized. And if you have more than one child you are going to have stuff all over the place. This leads to mom chaos!
In the Backpack
Labels, labels, labels! Label everything that does not move: jackets, gloves, staplers, binders, lunch bags, pencil cases, eyeglass cases, inhalers, calculators, flash drives. Make sure that all their possessions will be identifiable in a lost-and-found box.
A label maker machine may just be your new favorite gadget! These are so simple to use and you will find that your kids may want to do this job themselves.Yay, less work for mom! Not that you won’t have to oversee the younger ones, but your older ones especially can create and apply their own labels. With these little nifty labels they can even do it more discreetly if they prefer.
Here is my favorite the Dymo handheld label maker. Also, consider placing a flexible plastic folder in the backpack for papers that need to be signed and returned.
Three-ring binders with subject dividers are practical but bulky. Consider buying two binders, one for “before-lunch” classes and another for “after-lunch” classes. A three-hole punch is very useful for hanging on to handouts; gummed reinforcements are a good idea, too.
Mechanical pencils, with spare leads, or lots of #2 pencils with a manual sharpener will save on broken-pencil aggravation during classes. Their teacher will appreciate it too.
In the Locker
Shelves, dividers, whiteboards, and hooks can be used in lockers in most schools. These can help prevent lunches from getting squished and homework from getting forgotten. Check with your school to see what is allowed and for locker internal dimensions.
Also, check with moms or older students for the dorkiness factor before investing in these. One too many times I picked out something I thought was fantastic only to find out they would die before taking it to school.
I found some really cool locker shelves that can stack on Amazon. It is a great way to utilize more space in their locker. It folds flat for easy transport, and fits standard size or 12 inch wide lockers. Check them out here: Lockermate Stac-a-Shelf
In the Home
Back to School Zone
Keep kid-friendly supplies in a specific, reliable place for homework and school projects. This will save you money, save your child time, and save both of you lots of grief. Not having to run to the kitchen or to Mom’s room to get scissors, tape, or a hole-punch will keep the child on task as well.
Remember the old milk crates we used in college for filing papers (and storing boxes of Pop-Tarts and cans of tuna)? These still work as very practical file-holders for students; they can be pushed into a closet when not needed, and cost lots less than regular filing cabinets.
Hanging file folders
These are the kind with hooks on the edges — are great for easy filing and retrieving of important papers. They come in all kinds of colors so your child can get as fashionable or color-coded as they wish. (Tip: go in with another parent to split the cost of a large box of hanging folders and another box of tabbed manila folders.)
Here is a 25 pack of colored ones on Amazon for a really great price (you don’t see them this cheap in office supply stores! AmazonBasics Hanging File Folders
Start your child off with basic folders for Science, Social Studies, Math, and Language Arts. Add a folder for sheet music if applicable. Encourage them to place returned homework papers and graded quizzes and tests in folders for future reference, e.g. final exams or end-of-course tests.
If your child gets into the filing practice, they might eventually create and use files for everything from soccer practice schedules to birthday cards to college view books. Getting that Dymo handheld portable label maker would be icing on the cake and really encourage a filing frenzy.
Wrapping it up
By thinking ahead a little bit you can ensure that back to school is a pleasant and enjoyable time for the whole family. For all of the above ideas, getting your child involved in the choosing process will help bolster their sense of independence and their inclination to stay organized. What tried and true tips and routines do you use to get organized and sane when getting back to school? Share them below in the comments!