Inside: Is your child ready for their 1st Day of School? Are you ready? You need these clever and practical Back to School solutions to make your life easier and to set your kids up to have a successful school year.
Everyone talks about School Readiness and Kindergarten Readiness.
Parents are constantly asking:
“Is my child ready for Kindergarten?”
“Is my child behind their peers?”
And parents almost always mean, “Are they ready academically? Do they know enough of their letters and numbers? Is it a problem if they still write their K’s backwards?”
But there are other ways students need to prepare for school.
They need to be physically ready with the right school gear.
They need to be emotionally ready to say goodbye for the day.
And they need to know what to expect, and what will be expected from them.
My third and final kiddo is heading off to Kindergarten this fall. And while I will without a doubt get teary-eyed, I’m also much better prepared this time around to make sure it’s a smooth transition for her. And for me. These clever Back to School hacks have made our school mornings and days so much easier.
Here are essential Back to School solutions to make sure your kiddo is excited and prepared for school:
1. Start talking about school early.
Make a countdown calendar or paper chain so they know when they’re starting school. Talk about “getting to go to school” rather than “having to go to school” to keep it positive.
2. Read great books about school so they know what to expect.
3. Choose a backpack that is big enough to hold their folder, their lunch, gym shoes (if needed) and their library books.
Jansport backpacks are my personal favorite because there is a lifetime warranty on them- if they break, Jansport will fix or replace them. A $20 Princess backpack that lights up will for sure break by April. Trust me.
4. Lay out clothes the night before.
It avoids arguments and lengthy discussions of why plaid doesn’t match polka dots at 7am.
And if your daughter is wearing a dress or skirt, have shorts or leggings to match for when they sit on the rug to avoid showing off their undies.
5. Label all their clothes: sweaters, sweatshirts, mittens, hats, jackets, and snow gear.
Remind them that when they take something off, it goes right into their backpack. Mittens come off and go right into their jacket pockets. It avoids you digging through the mildewy lost and found bin later.
6. If your child is feeling anxious about the separation, read them the Kissing Hand.
This is a must read in our family and we often give and get Kissing Hands whenever anyone is nervous with a transition.
7. Send friendly faces to school.
Print a picture of your family and laminate it (head to an office supply store or use clear contact paper) to help with homesickness or anxiety.
Tape it inside their lunch box or supply box. Sometimes seeing a friendly face when they’re feeling nervous or anxious can help.
8. Have easy, ready to go breakfasts your kids will eat.
Cereals, yogurts, oatmeal, bagels…whatever is fast and easy.
Double your pancake or waffle recipe the next time you make them and freeze the left overs. Popping frozen pre-made pancakes or waffles in the toaster is a hot, home cooked breakfast on the table in less than 3 minutes.
9. Do. Not. Let. Your. Kids. Leave. The. House. Without. Lice Spray.
This has been our saving grace. My eldest came home from Kindergarten with a raging case of lice. And all 5 of us got it. It was the biggest nightmare.
So now, my girls wear their hair up in braids, buns, or pony tails. Every day. And everyone gets sprayed…even my son. He uses it as a hair gel because it’s pretty sticky.
10. For tennis shoes, gym shoes, or running shoes, get no-tie laces.
Even if your kiddo knows how to tie their shoes, chances are they aren’t super fast at it. As a teacher, I spent half my day tying laces. Practice at home, but send them to school with these easy guys.
Added bonus, when they get their shoes on in the morning, it’ll take seconds rather than minutes!
11. Meet your child’s teacher before school starts and see the classroom.
Meet your child’s teacher before the first day of school to ease anxiety and worries.
If it’s possible, take a tour of the school so they will see where they will eat lunch, where they will go to the bathroom, and where they can get water.
Knowing that their basic needs will be taken care of will assure them. Knowing where they can hang up their backpack and where they’ll sit will get them excited.
Nothing excites my kids more than knowing the fairies are coming the night before school to bring them a little surprise.
My eldest was always eating her lunch at snack time and came home starving. Separating the two made it so much easier for her!
14. Lunch notes make eating away from home more fun!
Try these black magic notes so you can write simple messages or draw pictures. A mid-day love note is always a welcomed surprise.
15. Prepare your child for the fact that your school is most likely nut free or nut safe.
Start getting your child ready by finding non-nut lunch snacks and meals. Try sunbutter in lieu of peanut butter. Double check your granola bars. The food allergy kids and their moms (like me!) will forever be grateful.
Tips after you drop them off to make the 1st Day of School Easier:
16. When it’s time for goodbyes, don’t linger.
Parents who linger always make it harder for their kids. If your child is crying, they will calm down a few minutes after you leave. It’s 99% guaranteed. A quick hug, kiss, and a reminder that you’ll see them after school is perfect. Then walk out the door.
You can cry in the parking lot with the rest of us.
If you’re going to linger, linger at pick up. Come into their classroom. See their work. Or spend extra time on the playground after school to meet their classmates and the other parents.
17. Set up a homework station.
Create a space with crayons, pencils, scissors and glue sticks–everything your child will need to be successful at completing their homework. Start with a routine of good habits from day one to avoid homework hassles.
Our family’s routine: come home, empty your backpack, wash your hands, get a snack, and start your homework. Then play. It’s non-negotiable and they know what to expect because they’ve been doing it since Day 1.
18. Have a designated spot to hang up backpacks.
There is nothing worse than trying to find your kid’s backpack when you’re running late to school in the mornings. The easiest way to avoid it is to have a pre-determined out-of the way spot, with a hook for each kid’s backpack.
It’s easy to empty and it’s easy to refill for school the next day.
19. Clean out their backpacks everyday.
Speaking of good habits, parents need to get into the routine of going through their student’s folders and backpack right away. Look at all their work so you can see what they’ve been learning in school. A lot of erase marks or teacher marks on their work is a communication to you that they’re not yet understanding what is being taught.
Recycle what you don’t want to keep (worksheets, tests, etc.), hang up the art work, and save anything special (writing is my favorite thing to keep!)
20. Sign the forms you get right away and stick them back into their backpacks before you forget.
You do not want to be scrambling in the morning or the only parent who didn’t sign the field trip permission slip.
21. Plan a special first day of school dinner and serve their favorite meal to celebrate their big first day!
Celebrate the success of their first day and your first day sending them off to school. Keeping it positive will keep them excited to return to school tomorrow.
Sending your kiddo off to school for the first time can be traumatic for parents.
But if you’re prepared and your child is prepared, it’ll go a lot smoother.
Which is a good thing, because you’ve got at least 179 more school days to go.
What’s your favorite Back to School tip that you love to share with other parents?