The long-awaited day when children go back to school is upon us. To help make this new school year go smoothly, I’ve created a few tips that I have used over the years and included a few that I wish I had known about.
Elementary: (This is the sweetest age!)
School can be a scary place, especially if you are just exiting your toddlerhood. Some children are more resilient to change, but it is not unusual for a more “seasoned” child to need a little more attention during the first few days and weeks of school. To make the transition less scary, try the following:
- Do visit the school or classroom before the very first day of school. Anxiety is due to a lack of knowledge. The more knowledge your child has of the place and people, the less anxious they will be. Start by visiting the playground. Take a picnic and create a first impression filled with good food, family, and friends. Also, most schools will host an open house allowing you to walk through the school and meet the teachers.
- Be open and available to your child and let them talk to you about their concerns and hopes for school. A kind listening ear is always comforting.
- Pretend it is the first day of school and go through the process of getting up on time, dressed, fed, and out the door. Also take some time to practice regular routines that occur at schools like proper handwashing and sanitary habits for runny noses, sneezing/coughing, and other bodily functions.
- Pictures say a thousand words. Sometimes, just seeing a familiar smiling face makes all the difference. Consider making a portable family album. Laminate a few pictures to put on a key ring so that it can be easily washed and kissed!
- Food. Shop together and either purchase a premade goodie or buy the ingredients to make a special first-day-of-school snack.
Middle School and Older: (I don’t think sweet quite describes this crew. Sticky? Sour? Ooh…Bitter!)
This is the age group that eschews good-bye kisses, will request to be dropped off a block from the school and does not want any pictures of their family on them. What they do want is to begin flexing their newfound and growing independence. Here are some creative ways to make their school year a little more successful.
- Sleep is essential, but so is waking up on time. Use a water spritzer. A light mist or one well-aimed shot of water is extremely effective in getting a teen out of bed. How would I know this is the best delivery method? Well, I have often had to use what was at hand and water bottles and glasses of water sometimes pour out more water than initially intended. Plan B: If you are lucky enough to have a friendly pet, a sloppy dog tongue does the trick, too.
- Demand --this is not a time to be passive-- demand that they pick out and try on their first day of school outfit two days before the first day of school. This will allow you time to fix any wardrobe malfunctions and them the opportunity to change their minds a few times.
- Washing and ironing. If your child cannot at the age of 12 or older work your washing machine and iron their own clothing then you are a naughty parent. Go find a corner and sit in it for a few minutes and contemplate how you are an enabler in creating a young adult with entitlement issues. Fix it.
- Not sure what to feed that endless pit? This is especially true if you have a son, have two sons, or have more than two sons. Ditto to any child heavily involved with sports --they just eat a lot. Keep the processed foods at a minimum and stock the cabinets with foods that are pronounceable and have less than six ingredients on the label. If they are truly hungry, they will not grimace at eating fruit or vegetables.
- Electronics. Be mean, here. You are not their friend; you are their parent. As a parent, you are required to set limits. 1. No electronics, other than for homework, are to be used on school nights. 2. ALL devices should be located OUTSIDE of their rooms at a communal charging station. There is only one question you need to consider here: Do you leave your outside door wide open when you go to bed at night? If the answer is no, then why would you leave open a virtual door to the internet in their rooms? Worse things than wild animals will come through those doors.
For All Ages
Go shopping. You don’t have to have a completely new wardrobe, nor does this have to break the bank. Even though uniforms are frowned upon in public schools (sigh!) there are some standards in clothing that even a family on a low budget can swing. The following list is a great basic wardrobe for any gender and age.
- Have at least three pairs of pants. Two should be regular blue jeans and the third should either be a black or khaki jean. The latter pair can be used for slightly dressier occasions.
- Four to five shirts. These can be a combination of school-appropriate t-shirts, but make sure you include a nice button-up shirt and a polo.
- New socks. These come in packs which can be split among your children if need be, with each child receiving 4-5 pairs.
- New undergarments, 5-7 pair each. Sharing is not encouraged!
Remember, not all the clothing has to be new or bought from a mall. There are many consignment stores that sell good quality and name brand clothing at a fraction of the price. Besides, who will know that those new-ish pair of designer jeans you have on came from a second-hand store? If you are on a budget, consignment stores will be your pocketbook's salvation! Also, keep an eye out for local charities who often will host a back-to-school fair that hands out free backpacks, school supplies, and clothing.
So, what works for you? Leave your comments on our Facebook page under this post @UnionWireless.
Contributed by Angelica Mecham