As summer comes to an end, we are bombarded with visual reminders that a new school year will soon be upon us. For many people this is welcome news. We look forward to new routines, new adventures in the classroom, and more structure to our days. For others, thinking about the start of a new school year raises feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Stores are overflowing with fall clothing and school supplies. And...did I REALLY see Halloween decorations on display already?! It can all be a bit overwhelming if we don't arm ourselves with a plan so that we can stress less, spend less, and enjoy more on these last days of summer with our families before our new routines take shape. Keep the following in mind as you prepare for the first days of school.
A- Acknowledge that there will be expenses and look for coupons and sales.
B- Be prepared with a shopping list and buy only what you really need to get started.
C- Check school websites for supply lists and book purchases needed for first week of school.
D- Designate an in/out launchpad at your front door for backpacks, notes to teachers, shoes, and jackets.
E- Each child needs his/her own set of supplies to be kept at home for homework and should have an assigned work space whether it be in a bedroom or at the kitchen table.
F- Fix lunches and snacks the night before school.
G- Get your kids involved in the process of setting up work spaces and choosing supplies.
H- Haircuts are a good idea but I caution you not to wait until the last minute. Schedule them a few weeks before school starts to allow a little growing out and adjustment to a new look.
I- Invest in something new such as a school bag or backpack that your child helps to choose.
J- Join a parents' support group or plan regular coffee mornings. There is strength in numbers be it in person or via blogs and the internet and much to be learned from those who have paved the road you now walk.
K- Keep it simple...backpacks, notebooks, highlighters, sticky notes, planner, timer, reinforced hole paper, pens and pencils are a good start.
L- Label everything, especially outerwear!
M- Measure kids' heights to mark the new school year.
N- New habits begin with you. Prompt your child to give you notes/forms/permission slips from teachers and to return homework to the same place in her/his backpack daily.
O- Organize closets and study areas the week before school starts.
P- Photos taken on the first day at home rather than in front of peers may induce less stress for your children.
Q- Quest for knowledge can be exhausting. Have healthy snacks on hand for after school!
R- Relax...It has been my experience that teachers send home wish lists and class supply lists the first week of school. Make sure that your student has the basics to begin the year right and then fill in the gaps over the next few weeks.
S- Send labeled medications and pertinent health information to the health office and to your child's teachers the first day of school.
T- Test the route to school the week before school starts to allow for timely arrival.
U- Update IEP/504 plans ASAP.
V- Volunteer opportunities abound. Choose those that suit your time and talent; know your limits.
W- Weed out old clothes that no longer fit and donate them to make room for new purchases.
X- eXamine the calendar of events for the year ahead and add them to your calendar. It will make planning much simpler. Many 2014-2015 calendars are already on school websites.
Y- Yes, there is an end to the myriad of forms requested at the beginning of the year. Treat them like a game of "hot potato." Complete them and send them back ASAP!
Z- zzz...Get a good night's sleep!