Ideas and Tips for a Great School Year

School supplies 1

August … in our home it means that summer break is almost over and a new school year is about to start!  Of course, it also means that it is time to shop for new school clothes (kids grow so fast!) and new school supplies.    When our daughter was in elementary school I was able to do most of the shopping quickly by myself but now that she is an “official” teenage for the last couple of years she has been very particular about everything from clothes, backpack, binder, etc.

Preparing for a new school year can be very time consuming and a stressful process.  Establishing some family back-to-school traditions is a wonderful way for children, preschool to high school age, to get excited about the start of a new school year but more importantly it builds wonderful memories and makes them feel loved. So, to help prepare for the upcoming new school year here are some tips and ideas:

End of summer traditions

  • Plan one last weekend trip to a favorite destination; maybe it is spending a day at the beach, lake or local pool, maybe it is going to the amusement park, miniature golf course or a water park.  The idea is to have a fun time at one of the family’s favorite summer locations.
  • Who says you have to go somewhere to have a good time, you can go camping in your own backyard!  Just set-up a tent with a few sleeping bags, be sure to have a couple of flashlights and the family can spend a wonderful night under the stars at your own home!  Plan a special family meal cooked on the outdoor grill and don’t forget the fixings for s’mores.
  • Before school starts, plan a great movie night; it can be at the local theatre in your town or in the comfort of your own home.  If the family is going out to the movie theatre, make it an event by first having a quick dinner at a favorite restaurant or after the movie go from some ice cream or frozen yogurt.  If the family is staying movie home to watch a movie; make a special dinner and a great dessert and don’t forget to make some popcorn to eat during the movie.
  • Another idea is to have a family game night.  Bring out the old favorite family games such as monopoly, scrabble, trivial pursuit, etc.  The important thing is to spend some quality time together as a family and have some fun!

Preparing for the new school year

  • Shopping for school supplies – usually the school will have a supply list available.  The key to shopping for school supplies is to shop early when the items are first available in the stores, then there is more of a selection and items are not sold out.  Since our daughter started middle school, I found that this is especially true for locker equipment and accessories which for some reason are usually in the stores in limited quantities.  In middle school decorating their locker is a big thing and items like locker shelves quickly sell out, so shop early to get the items that are needed.

CRAFT IDEA #1 – Last year, we decorated a white binder with a collage of pictures, it was a simple and easy project and my daughter loved it!  To make one of your own, just be sure to buy a binder with a plastic sleeve on the front.  Select a variety of photos and glue them to a sheet of white scrapbook paper pre-cut to fit the size of the binder.  Allow the glue is dry completely; then simply slip the paper with the photos into the front sleeve of the binder.

Decorated binders 1

CRAFT IDEA #2 – Add scrapbook stickers to plain binders for a one-of-a-kind look!

Decorated binders 2

  • Shopping for school clothes – For many families, especially those with young girls, shopping for school clothes can be a very stressful time.  I would advise first to set a budget; this should be discussed with your child prior to shopping.  Make a list of the items needed for the school year, leaving here in the Midwest our family will shop twice a year for school clothes, fall/winter clothes and spring clothes. Next, if you have a young daughter, buy some age appropriate fashion magazines and look through them together.  Discuss the school dress code and what the limitations are before shopping.  Hopefully with these suggestions a trip to the store to shop for school clothes will be a better experience.  I went to a private school and had to wear a uniform for all 12 years of school, if your child is wearing a uniform think about the importance of accessories; maybe a nice watch or some great jewelry so they can add their own personality into their daily outfit.  (Always check first to see what the school dress code allows)
  • Plan a visit to the school prior to the first day – this is a great idea if your child is transitioning from preschool to elementary school, elementary to middle school or middle to high school.    This is very helpful especially if your child is nervous and anxious about a change from one school to another.  When we moved from California to the Midwest, we took our daughter to her new school to check it out prior to the first day, she was able to see her new classroom, meet the teacher and take a tour of the school.
  • After summer mornings sleeping in, prepare your child by getting them up earlier each day for a week before the first day of school.  Check that their alarm clock is working correctly and if they don’t have one for their bedroom be sure to buy them one.

The night before the first day of school

  • Pick out the clothes the night before, this will help to hopefully avoid some of the madness and make getting dressed in the morning a little easier and faster.
  • Make sure they have everything they need in the bathroom, including toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.
  • Be sure that their backpack is ready to go and they have all their supplies so they can just grab it and leave in the morning and not forget anything.
  • Have a great quiet family dinner, it would be a great opportunity to talk about the first day and answer any questions.
  • Pack their lunch the night before, make sure that first day lunch has their favorite sandwich, a healthy snack and drink and a yummy treat for dessert.  Maybe tuck in a special note telling them how much you love them and wish them a great first day!
  • Go to bed a little earlier the night before the first day of school and get a good night’s rest.  Be sure to have your child set the alarm clock in their bedroom and also set the alarm clock in your bedroom, too.  The trick is to set your alarm for a few minutes earlier to make sure your child wakes up with plenty of time to eat a good breakfast and to get dressed.

The first day of school

  • One of the special traditions in our family is on the first day of school I always take a picture of my children with their backpacks and lunch boxes.  It is a wonderful way to look back and see how much they have grown and how fashion has changed over the years.  Be sure to allow at least an extra 10 minutes to take some quick photos.  (Another idea is to take a picture on the last day of school every year – this is something I didn’t do but now I wished I had!)

Chris first day of Kindergarten OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Consider giving your child a small gift on the first day of school.  It can be something practical that they can use for school or maybe have a special toy for when they get home.
  • When your child gets home from school on the first day, have a festive banner welcoming them home.  Bake a special treat for your child to enjoy when they get home, maybe their favorite cake, cookies or cupcakes.  This is a great opportunity for your child to share their first day experience.

I hope everyone has a great start to the school year!!