Back to School COUNTDOWN
Week 5: Bedtime
Begin rolling bedtime back to a reasonable hour.
I know it’s still summer and only the beginning of August, but if you roll bedtime back by 10 or 15 minutes a week, you can get back to a reasonable bedtime by the time school rolls around and your little darlings won’t notice the difference.
Similarly, begin moving waking times up the same way. To avoid alarms or other giveaways, begin making breakfast, very loudly, about 30 minutes before you want them to actually be up, so that they will actually be vertical about 15 minutes earlier than the week before. This works just was well with vacuuming, and playing your favorite song on the radio.
Week 4: Clear out the Clutter
If your kids are anything like mine there should be about a foot high mountain of clutter obliterating what used to pass for their desks, and at least a couple of drawers (or closet) full of clothes consisting of no less than three different sizes - none of which fit by the end of summer.
Before you even begin to think about back to school shopping, clear out the clutter. Clean off the desk, and donate old or ill-fitting clothes. If the heat induced sibling rivalry just gave way on your last nerve this is a perfect opportunity to get even by making them try on all of it to ‘see what fits’. If you’re feeling more generous, just bag it up and call the local good will. They’ll even come pick it up.
Next create a calm, orderly place where your child can focus on his daily school work, and easily find what he needs. Place a large peg-board or black board behind their desk to help them organize their weekly workload. Clip cups or mason jars to the peg boards to organize at-home school supplies. Keeping surfaces clean ad clutter free is shown to help kids remain calm and focus during extended tasks.
Week 3: The List
Go dig out your child’s backpack from where it was strewn on the last day of school. It’s probably still in the same spot it was left back in June. Once you’ve found it, locate the supply lit for the upcoming year, and toss everything else in there. No one needs 3 month old snacks left over from the end of year party. Then make a plan of attack.
Plan and Prioritize the List
Before you buy anything, take a good look at the list. Most likely you already have some of these items already either left over from previous years or older siblings. Your child may not agree but crayons used a couple of times before are just as good as new ones, and they really don’t have the cooties if big brother or sister used them first.
Next, think about use. Most teachers put everything for the entire year on the list for the beginning of the school year - but many items just won’t be used for another couple of months or even the second half of the year. To avoid a big bill and help spread the cost over time, consider buying what is needed to begin the year, and schedule a few monthly supply purchases every month or two. If you’re feeling especially proactive contact other parents in the class and see if you can arrange a schedule to deliver general classroom supplies like tissues, paper towels and disinfecting wipes monthly rather than bombarding the teacher with 20 of each on the first day.
Week 2: The Morning Routine
I’m not going to lie. Getting yourself, and a couple of little people, ready for the day looking somewhat presentable and on time is a major challenge.
The key is to have it all organized in an easy to follow, visual planner. Be sure to clearly list any items you want your children to do on their own – from making their beds, getting dressed, to packing their backpacks. Attach a marker to it with a string and paste it on your child’s bedroom door at their eye level. Read through each item together, talk about your expectations, and practice making beds together.
Set an egg timer. My kids will try on - and discard - three or four outfits and throw three or four tantrums over their clothes if I let this process go on for too long. Set a timer to mark the point at which all items should be completed. Or if you’re really organized, set multiples, one for each item on the list.
Last go ahead and make the dreaded trip to purchase the supplies necessary for the first few weeks of school. If you’re like me and will do anything to avoid waiting on line at Staples, order on-line. Most places offer free shipping, so there’s no down side.
Week 1: Dry Run & Reward System
Pick out a small reward for your child. This can be anything from a favorite desert to a small toy or trip to the movies. Place it some place where your child can see it, but cannot reach it. If it’s not something that can be ‘placed’ try making a picture of it and using that as a stand in.
Set morning alarm clocks and practice getting up and going through your morning routine. When you’ve successfully completed a whole week, your child has officially earned the reward. If you are struggling with this, a series of smaller rewards for smaller steps along the way works just as well.
Pack their backpacks. I still remember the excitement I felt filling my backpack with my new notebooks and supplies. Do this together and you’ll both have this shared memory for year to come. Label notebooks by subject & color-code them. Pack crayons in an outer zippered compartment to avoid breakage. Place newly sharpened pencils inside pencil cases together with sharpeners and scissors. Ideally the pencil case will be secured inside binders. This is neater, avoids accidental poking, and gives your child’s supplies a place to ‘live’ so they always know where they are.
Congratulations, you made it. Now you’re home free!
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