Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back to School Timeline for students

I posted this segment last year but I think it is worth repeating!  School begins in the next month, plan ahead!

ITthe countdown to the first day of school begins this month.  Whether your children start school in August or September it helps to have a timeline to help everyone get back into the school routine.  This is meant as a general guideline, you can tailor it to fit your family and school.  
Every year is a new adventure.  So as a parent, it is best if you help your child get started on the right foot.  Instead of struggling with the new school year and getting back into a routine, establish the routine first and then the surprises and adjustments of starting school will fall into place.

Two Weeks Before the First Day
·                     Help your child clean out closets, dresser drawers, desks, bookshelves, and organize their rooms.  You will need to make room for backpacks, school supplies, books, school clothes and other necessities.  It is helpful to have separate spaces for school clothes and play clothes; this will help children with getting dressed in the morning.

·                     Make a specific spot for children to store their backpack.  Children can be forgetful and you will need to check the backpack for homework assignments, notes from school, permission slips, etc.  After the child completes the homework assignment he or she should put it in the backpack right away so it is ready to return to school.

·                     If there are any summer assignments that were to be completed before the first day of school, get them out and either get started or finish up!  Put the work in your backpack so it is ready for the first day.

·                     Designate a spot in the kitchen for lunchboxes.  Have children practice packing and unpacking their lunchbox and putting things in the sink after school.  You will want to monitor the lunchbox to make sure your child is eating lunch.  At our school we have the children bring home any uneaten food.  Please clearly mark the lunch box, thermos, reusable containers and other items with a sharpie.  Both tops and bottoms of reusable containers should be marked.  It is an environmentally sound idea to use these types of containers instead of Ziploc bags.  Be sure to include a cloth placemat and napkin for your child.  You will want a barrier between the lunch table and your child's food.  Children often drop things on the table so it would be healthier if it fell on their clean placemat.

·                     Mark all removable clothing items (including shoes) with the child's name.  This will be very helpful to the teacher and items are more likely to be returned to the proper owner if they are easily identifiable.

·                     Consider visiting the school, helping the child find his or her classroom, bathrooms, water fountains, where they will be dropped off and picked up, where the playground and the school office is located.  This is especially helpful if you are attending a new school or are moved to a new building.

One Week Before the First Day
·                     Buy school supplies.  Take your child with you so that they can make some choices. When you get home, unpack and store supplies in appropriate areas.  Label with a sharpie any supplies they take to school unless the teacher says otherwise.  Sometimes teachers ask students to bring in pencils and they become classroom supplies so they do not need to be labeled.

·                     Buy a new toothbrush while you are buying school supplies, it is a good time of year to start with "new" things.

·                     Place items that need to go to school in the backpack and set it aside so everything is ready to go.

·                     Practice packing lunches in the lunchbox with your child.  What things can he or she do without your help?  Have a "conference" with your child about foods you both agree are acceptable and healthy for lunch.

·                     Start the school bedtime routine.  We all tend to get out of the routine over summertime.  It is best to get back into the routine a week or so before the big day.  Some children will not be able to sleep before the first day of school so if the bedtime routine is established parents and children have an easier time.

·                     If possible, take your child with you to meet the teacher.  As a teacher I always want to meet the families in my class before school begins.  It may ease your child's anxiety to stop in and say "hello".

·                     Be sure the school has all of your phone numbers and email addresses.

The Day Before
·                     Help your child pick out the "First Day" outfit, from underwear out.  Set all the clothing aside so your child knows to get dressed in the morning.

·                     Explain to your child the time schedule for school.  What time you will drop them off, pick them up etc.

·                     Talk about the child's feelings, when talking with younger children be sure to let them know that you have complete confidence in their abilities, that this is a great adventure, and that you will be looking forward to hearing all about it after school.  Put a note in your child’s lunch box to remind him or her that you are proud of them and know that they are doing great.  Avoid saying you miss them or are thinking about them as this can lead to anxiety in the child.  Your child may feel that you are sad because they are not around.  Something like, “I can’t wait to hear about your day,” or “I believe in you” work well.

The First Day
·                     Keep the routine low key, calm and happy.

·                     Drop your child off, give him or her big hug and tell them you will see them at (whatever time school ends).  Do not prolong the goodbye.  Leave them in the care of the teacher even if your child is nervous, scared or tearful.  The teacher will know how to deal with this.  It’s like ripping off a bandaid.  It is better not to prolong the agony.  The teacher will find a way to help your child find friends and things that are interesting to do.

·                     Go to work or go shopping, something to take your mind off leaving your child in someone else's care.

·         When your child comes home, let him or her begin the conversation about school.  If you ask the question, “What did you do today?”  The open­-endedness and enormity of that question often result in the answer, “Nothing.”    Just be there with a smile and be ready to listen when the child opens the subject.

I wish you all a very successful school year!


  1. Hi thanks for the info, It was sweet to finally read a great blog that actually makes sense. I will be back soon to read some more. Great job

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  2. Thanks Steve, come back and read more soon!