Tips for getting your kids ready to go back to school

I was shocked in June when Target was promoting Back to School - hadn't we just finished the school year. But now it's August and it's really time to start the "re-entry" process. Here's our back to school acclimation program that is more productive than a shock to the system on Sept. 1.

Tip One: Don't stop reading
Couple in background, rear view, sitting on grass beside lake, British Columbia, Canada.

We've encouraged reading throughout the summer and my eldest has an assignment to write a report on two books he's read. We let the kids choose books to read for the summer and enticed them with a slight extension to bedtime exclusively for reading. I'm pretty sure parents have been trying that trick for generations.

Tip Two: Clean the desks - but make it fun

My family has a paper problem and I'm pretty sure the sheets of paper have learned to reproduce in our welcoming environment. I hired an organizer to help me deal with my husband and my issues.  So far, so good and it's been a couple of months.  For the kids, we let everyone know that Saturday morning was desk cleaning day.  Dad led the removal of everything from the desks and the initial garbage disposal. Mom led the review of what to keep and what to relegate to memories.  Empty desks ready for the next year of work.

Tip Three: Take inventory

School supplies aren't particularly expensive, but so many of them come home at the end of the year that it seems wasteful not to re-use the ones that are still virtually new. We put all the existing inventory on the dining room table, tested pens, pencils, erasers, markers and more until we had everything sorted. Compared our inventory to the school supply list and highlighted what was left to buy.

Tip Four: Make a playdate

My kids go to a bunch of camps over the summer where they make new friends and explore their interests. Sometimes there's a schoolmate at these camps, but usually not. August is a great time to reconnect them with their friends. We're doing a Giants game with one friend. Working on more (social calendaring is not my strong suit). If your child is at school with my sons - want to have a playdate?

Tip Five: Talk about school positively

It doesn't take much for kids to realize that summer is a lot of fun. No homework. No tests. No reports. Lots of sports and fun. Our kids usually find school to be fun too (not like summer, but still fun) - they like learning and being with their friends. Instead of bemoaning the end of summer, we talk about what they're looking forward to in their next year of school and what they want to learn. We convey our own genuine excitement for the experience they're about to have at school. A little bit of the self-fulfilling prophecy - you get what you expect.

Tip Six: Squeeze lots of memories from the dog days of summer

Six Children Have a Water Fight Round a Paddling Pool in a Back Garden
We're going to extract every last morsel of summer from the season. My sons and husband are going camping/rafting this summer with Dads from our school. Next weekend, my kids join my parents in the mountains by a lake...while we get a couples weekend.  Then we go to the lake.  Tired yet? And there's the possibility of a short, impromptu family vacation when none of the kids have school. Of course, we don't get those sorts of vacations from work!  Have fun and good luck.

Tip Seven: Plan the afterschool activities

Our kids are pretty active and we want them to run around and play a lot after school. Because we both work, we need to put a little structure into that playtime. Each son gets to play one organized sport a season - their choice. They have music instruction. And they get to do something else they like - active. Sometimes two something else's depending on proximity. So now we're choosing what the activities will be (except for soccer, that has to be chosen in April for the fall season). It's fun and builds anticipation with the kids.

Tip Eight: Make a big deal of the haircuts

Somehow, my kids have fallen in love with the haircut experience. It's likely the lollipop for the little girl and the Pao de Queijo for the older two. But in any case, before they go back to school, they need to look sharp and making this a fun outing reduces the amount of complaining it could otherwise entail.

Tip Nine: Ask your friends for their tips

So?  What do you do to get the kids ready to go back to school?



I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get a HarperCollins book set. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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