Preparing for the first day of school begins before the first class bell

Transitioning from summer to school routines – it’s not too early to start the school routine. Beginning your routine now will be a big help when the first day of school arrives.

The media is hot on the trail of back-to-school messages while we’re still thinking of picnics and swimming. While we may want to ignore these messages, they are a reminder that the summer routine will soon transition into the school year routine, and it’s not too early to start practicing.

Bedtimes have no doubt been later during the summer break. Sending kids to bed 20 to 30 minutes earlier gives minds and bodies practice toward making changes. Michigan State University Extension supports the fact that children who get enough sleep do better in school.  

Mealtime has probably been more flexible due to later bedtimes and playing outdoors longer. Just like bedtime, regular meals and snacks are crucial to learning. Planning in advance, especially for breakfast will result in a smoother start to each day and a child who is ready and able to learn.

What about last year’s school clothes? Do they still fit? We hold a fashion show each August in our family. It can go on and on, but it eliminates the uncooperative “rubber body” children seem to develop when urged to try on last years’ sweaters and jeans. If no one at your house wants to participate in a fashion show and you have a private deck or lawn, take the clothes outside. Grab a timer and challenge kids to change their clothes before the timer goes off. This is generally a chore that nobody likes and thinking outside the box might make it a little easier.

How do your children get to school? Do they walk to school or to a bus pick-up location? Do you have a long drive-way? Will you wait for the bus with them? Do you drop them off at school? Will you be taking children to more than one school building this year? Everyone pile into the car and perform some research. How much time is needed for everyone to get where they need to be each morning?

Bathroom time in the morning may need to be determined if you have a child who, while you could not get them to comb their hair last year, is now spending hours in front of the mirror experimenting with new hair styles. Who likes to shower at night? Create a schedule and encourage one of your kids to draw it and tape onto the back of the bathroom door.

All these decisions can be made as a family. Kids know what they need, are resourceful and when given an opportunity to have a say, are very cooperative. You can always revisit the master plan and tweak as needed. This takes pressure off parents while teaching kids responsibility and cooperation.

The more prepared your family is for the beginning of the school year, the better the start. It’s a preventative measure – let’s prevent a mad dash on the first day back when stomachs might already be full of butterflies. Schedules and routines go a long way to starting each day ready for the challenges.

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