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The shift from summer break to back to school can be chaotic for both parents and kids but it doesn’t need to be. A little bit of preparation can make the world of difference between a panicked start and a smooth transition. Here are some tips to organize and prepare for back to school.
10 Tips to Prepare for Back to School
1.) Take Inventory of Clothes
Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out that your daughter only has two pairs of shorts that fit her. Go through each kid’s closet and drawers and clear out what doesn’t fit and get rid of it. Then inventory what new items they need and go shopping.
Don’t forget about any items your kids may need for fall sports and after-school activities, such as new soccer cleats, dance bag, etc.
2.) Buy School Supplies
This is another don’t wait until the last minute task. The back to school supply section at every store is insane right before school starts and many items are picked over. If you don’t want to run around to three stores looking for glue sticks, then go to the store now or buy it online (Amazon Prime can be a lifesaver if you waited too long).
Most schools send home the supply list at the end of the year or post the list to their website so you can prepare for back to school early.
Also, make sure you are stocked at home with all the supplies you need for a homework center. Our home supply is usually stocked with leftover supplies the kids brought home at the end of the year but sometimes we need to buy a few extra items, like markers (thanks to my kids for never putting the caps back on correctly).
3.) Create a Homework Center
Having a dedicated space for homework is so important. Whether it’s at the kitchen table or in a home office, kids need a quiet place to do their homework. Keep homework supplies close at hand, such as markers, pencils, erasers and scissors. Small labeled storage boxes, homework caddy or plastic or glass cups on a Lazy Susan are all great options.
4.) Family Command Center and Schedules
A family command center can be so helpful to keep your family’s schedule and paperwork organized. Now is the perfect time to create a command center or update the one you have to adjust for any changes in your family or schedule. Command centers should be personalized to fit each individual family’s needs. Check out 5 family command centers ideas for inspiration for yours.
Input all school and after-school activity dates on your family calendar, whether it’s a paper planner or digital. I personally prefer Google calendar that both my husband and I can access it. He can integrate it with his work calendar so he only has one calendar to check. I signed my oldest son up for his own Gmail account when he was around 11 years old and so now I add him to the calendar invites for his activities.
Make any changes in cleaning or chore schedules. My kids have more chores to do in the summer when they have more time to do them but I lessen the chore load as the school and sports schedule increases.
Now is a great time to start meal planning if you don’t already do this. Meal planning will save time and make dinner prep less stressful.
5.) Storage for Backpacks and Shoes
When the kids come home, they want to kick off their shoes and dump their backpacks right where they enter. Create a dedicated storage spot for the shoes and backpacks so they aren’t cluttering up the entryway. Hooks, storage cubes, storage cabinets are all great options for mudroom organization.
6.) School Lunches
If your kids pack lunches, buy school lunches or a mix of both, then think about all you’ll need to be prepared. Making sure you have healthy snack and lunch options (that they will actually eat) is so important. I tend to get stuck in a rut, packing the same lunch over and over again. Sally at Real Mom Nutrition has an incredible printable list of 100 lunch box ideas so you never run out of ideas. Or better yet, teach your children to pack their own lunch.
Don’t forget to check your supply of reusable containers, lunch boxes and freezer packs. Consider creating a grab and go station in the pantry and fridge with pre-portioned fruit, veggies and snacks. It will make it easy for you or your kids to quickly pack lunches.
I also love the idea of lunch box notes but never take the time to create them. Living Locurto and Think.Make.Share offer adorable sets for FREE. Just print them off and put it in a kitchen drawer so it’s ready to stick in their lunch box. My middle school son would die of embarrassment if I ever put one in his lunch but my younger kids really appreciate it.
If your children buy school lunches or breakfasts, add money to their school account. Our district offers a payment method online or be prepared to send in a check on the first day of school. Set a reminder on your calendar to print or check the lunch menu for the week or month. Make a note of which days your kids are buying lunch.
7.) Reestablish School Year Ground Rules
Summer is great for late nights chasing fireflies and sleepovers with friends. It’s not easy to switch to an early bedtime and early mornings. Start moving bedtime earlier a couple of weeks before school starts so they won’t be so tired and cranky on their first day of the school year.
It’s also important to remind your kids about other rules that may be different in summer than during the school year. I’m more lax about TV and video game time during the summer so I have to remind them of the limits and cutoff times for the school year.
8.) Prepare for the Expected and Unexpected
Make arrangements for before and after school if needed. Make sure your child knows the plan for each day. If your child’s schedule changes frequently, then consider writing out the weekly schedule in their planner or on a notecard to keep in their book bag.
Make sure to also have a plan if your child becomes sick at school. You don’t want to scramble at the last minute trying to figure out who can pick your child up from school.
9.) Schedule a Yearly Check-up or Sports Physical
If your child hasn’t already, make an appointment for a check-up or physical. Bring any health forms the school requires for the doctor to complete. Doctor offices usually require 24 or 48 hours to complete the forms.
10.) School Forms and Kids Artwork
The beginning of the year is usually filled with lots of forms to be filled out. If your lucky, your school has moved a lot of the paper online and you only need to confirm if the info is correct. However, there will usually still be other forms and papers with important dates coming home. To really be prepared for back to school allot some time in your schedule before school starts to go over and complete any papers. Also, expect additional papers to come home right after school starts.
In addition to all the forms, kids bring home all kinds of artwork, school projects and written assignments. While I don’t recommend keeping all of it (or even most of it), you will want to keep some of it for keepsakes. Check out my kid’s artwork storage solution.
Recap: Back to School Tips
1.) Take inventory of clothes
2.) Buy school supplies early
3.) Create a homework center
4.) Create a family command center and input dates on the family calendar
5.) Have a dedicated storage space for backpacks and shoes
6.) Prepare for school lunches
7.) Reestablish school year ground rules
8.) Prepare for before/after school care and have a plan if your child gets sick at school
9.) Schedule a yearly check-up or sports physical so you’re prepared for health forms
10.) Set aside time to fill out school forms and create a system to organize your kid’s artwork and school papers