Comprehensive back-to-school guide for parents
Are you worried about getting yourself and your child ready for back-to-school time? Do you want more than just a few tips to get you started? Then simply following Dr Rosina’s comprehensive 14-day back-to-school guide will inspire you to get into action and take the worry away! By including your child in the preparations and taking care of only one activity each day, you can still enjoy the last few weeks of the holidays and make sure you get the New Year off to a great start! Sound good? Well then … let’s go.
First! Grab a notebook so you can keep everything together and make notes as you go. No more lost lists, numbers or bits of paper everywhere! Now you’re ready to get on your way to being organised!
Day 1: Uniforms and shoes
If you already have school and sports uniforms as well as shoes from last year, then get your child to try them on to make sure they still fit. If they do, simply get everything ready with a wash, an iron and a polish and you’re done. If not, make a list of the purchases and alterations you need and then shop, shop, shop now! Make sure you leave enough lead time for uniforms to be made or altered for length.
Day 2: School supplies
Ask your child to help you collect in one place, all of the school supplies you already have. Throw away the items that are old or no longer working and make a list of all the things you need to replace including school bag, note pads, pens, easers etc. To save money, take advantage of the back-to-school sales, use the list you’ve prepared and don’t buy things you don’t need!
Day 3: Contact and emergency information
Create a contact list including your phone number and address, emergency numbers, doctor’s numbers and a ‘back-up’ contact number for when you can’t be reached. Place these numbers on the fridge at home in clear view, provide them to your child’s school, in your child’s school bag and help your child to memorise your contact number and their home address.
Day 4: Organisation - calendars and routines
Purchase a large calendar where you can write appointments and events. Place it in a location where it is easy to view and update. Enter in as many dates as you can at this stage and help your child to learn about using a calendar by referring to it every day and updating it together. This is a great life skill you can help your child develop!
Next create routines for morning, after school and before bed and explain them to your child. For example, morning routine could include getting their lunch from the fridge and putting it in their bag, after-school routine could be change of clothes, time for snack, then homework, play and wash hands before dinner. Before bed routine could include preparing uniforms, shoes, socks, packing bag with books, homework, sports clothes etc. You can help children do this by themselves by having a checklist for them to tick off every night. Practise these routines before school starts until they are running smoothly ready for their first day back!
Day 5: Sleep
Both you and your child need to be well rested to be productive and happy throughout the day. The week before school commences, decide on bedtimes and waking times, put them into place and stick to them.
Day 6: Homework area
Prepare an area for your child to study and complete their homework after school. Ideally this is a quiet space with no access to internet or television so that they are not watching TV, updating Facebook or looking at YouTube videos when they should be finishing homework! Involve your child in the design so they feel part of the process and it is inviting to them.
Day 7: Relieve back-to-school nerves and inspire your child
Talking about the upcoming school year and the changes your child might experience can help reduce some of their back-to-school anxiety. You can also motivate and inspire your child by discussing the exciting new classes, activities and events they can participate in during the year.
Day 8: Friends
Studies have suggested that approximately 75% of your child’s time at school is spent in social interactions, so the quality of their friendships has a significant impact on their success at school. While you can’t pick your child’s friends, you can provide valuable knowledge that will help them select wisely. The idea of just one ‘best friend forever’ can lead to disappointment and unhappiness as conflict and change is inevitable. Being open to diversity in friendships and having multiple relationships is less likely to result in isolation when disagreements arise. Encouraging your child to be-friend different people some who share their own interests and personal strengths and others who do not, holds many advantages.
Day 9: Exploring solutions to potential problems
Can you remember back to your days at school and the difficulties you faced and all things that can go wrong? Imagine if you had discussed them with your parents before hand and developed and practised strategies to cope. Take the time to talk about topics like bullying, accidents, drugs and alcohol, strangers and peer pressure. Your child is more likely to cope better if they have discussed a situation and practised strategies before it actually occurs.
Day 10: Transportation
Work out how your child will get to and from school and then organise the car pool, bus tickets, walking route or locations for drop off and pick ups. Explain the transport plan to your child in detail and then have a few practice runs so you both feel safe and confident.
Day 11: Meet the teachers
As you get closer to the back-to-school date organise for a tour of the school with your child and to meet their teachers. Meeting the teacher can reduce your child’s back-to-school nerves. Opening the lines of communication and building a friendly relationship with your child’s teacher will support your child in many ways!
Day 12: Set a good example
Children learn more from what their parents do than what they say. So set a great example and be the kind of person you’d like your child to become. You can’t expect them to be organised, tidy and thoughtful if you don’t display those characteristics and are messy and disorganised.
Day 13: Create a little surprise
Prepare a little surprise like a personal note or a photograph and place it in your child’s bag for them to find at some time during their first day … it will show you care, reassure your child they are loved and a inspire a big smile!
Day 14: Meet your friends
After all that’s done it’s time for a well-earned break and a catch-up with your friends. Remember a tired and grumpy parent is no fun for anyone and happy parents make a happy household. So don’t forget to take care of yourself as well as the family!
You’re now ready to start a new school year organised and confident! Remember, your efforts will not only make the transition back to school easier, it will also help your child develop the key life skills they need to lead a happy and successful life.