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Stress-Free Back-To-School Season: Tips & Top 10 Supplies
Monday, August 27, 2012
By: Angela M. Messier
To many people, August means hot hazy beach days, end of summer cook-outs, and garden harvesting. To me, as an ex-preschool teacher, August holds another exciting time: back to school prep. Teachers spend so much of their time preparing the school year for your little ones! It's stressful, but it's worth it to make sure students are engaged and amused and learning all year long.
As a parent, back to school can be just as stressful-especially having kids in tow while shopping and planning! Instead of dragging bored kids while you prep for them, get them involved in the back to school planning process with a little creativity. Not only will this help them get excited for school and look forward to returning, but it'll give you a wonderful little helper on all those errands and September projects!
Worries and Fears:
• If your child is new to the whole school day thing, or if their usual school procedure is changing in some way (like jumping from elementary to middle school), spend some time walking them through a typical day. Start with the morning bus or drop off and end with coming home to start on homework. A lot of new-school-year hesitation comes from the unknown. Speculate on who will be in their class (if they don't know already), what the teacher will be like, what activities they'll get to do, and especially what they'll learn! Having some sort of image of what to expect will help to calm a lot of fears.
• To add to the above point, find out if the school has an open house day. This allows your kid(s) to visualize what school will be like. Walk around classrooms, meet the teacher, guess where desks will be and what the day will be like based on the layout of the classroom. Make it a guessing game with your child to help add to the excitement!
• To help get a summer of lounging far from their minds, talk with your children about what they think they'll learn during the school year. Find out if there's anything they particularly hope to learn-like how to spell a word or what makes a volcano blow. Kids love discovery, and this exercise will help them get excited for all the learning they're going to do, without making it seem like a chore, by focusing on what they wish to know.
• Take your child shopping for supplies with you. This is a great way to engage your kids in back to school excitement. Help find favorite colors, animals, or themes for their supplies. Within reason, let your child pick out the items themselves. It will seem more personal and special. I remember being so anxious to break out my highlighters and funky colored #2 pencils as a child! (I was also a bit of a nerd.)
• Pro tip: when I was younger, I would pick out a special notebook for the school year that would be just for me. It wasn't used for homework, taking notes, or anything like that. I would write in it, doodle in it, scrapbook in it. I would trade it with my friends so they could write in it too. I'd make collages on the covers of fun things or themes. This made me so excited for school because it gave me something special and private to look forward to. When I got older, I kept up the ritual and used the notebook for journaling during downtime. The project can be as simple or elaborate as you and your child want, and it encourages creativity, art, and writing development too!
• Let your child organize their backpack. It seems simple, but trust me, kids feel much more grown up and excited when they get to do small tasks you would usually do for them. It gives you a little break, too! (Just make sure the backpack is balanced when they're done. Unbalanced backpacks lead to major back issues down the road). See Top 10 School Supplies List Below!
• No matter how hard you try, a teenager will not be as easily distracted into excitement as a younger child. Let your older kids have a bit more autonomy during back to school prep. Let them shop for their supplies themselves, and don't harp on them about the little things.
• Make sure to set an after school routine ahead of time. Lots of kids are going to try to weasel their way out of homework, but with the increasing workloads these days, this is a bad idea. Set goals for homework completion, and make sure to schedule frequent breaks, too. Studies show that long, continuous study sessions actually yield less preparation than if the student takes time to relax and recharge in between.
• It's hard to strike a balance between smothering and disconnected, but high-schoolers don't want to feel babied, or worse, policed. Teach your kids to earn respect and trust by setting the guidelines and routines, and then giving them the space to follow them. We're innocent until proven guilty, so why not responsible until proven not?
College and Beyond:
• College classes are wallet-breakers, we all know this. Don't go overboard with the supplies you think you'll need. Some students are prepping for college with expensive laptops and tablets; that's great, but it's unnecessary a lot of the time. When you get your school schedule, make sure to contact your professors and find out what they suggest for supplies for each class. A lot of times, you'll find things are superfluous or even already provided. This is also a great time to introduce yourself as a smart, responsible student. Teachers love that.
• For college books that don't leave you in debt, check out www.textbooks.org. Search by title or ISBN (the greatest book searching tool ever) and compare new, used, and electronic prices from a wide range of different websites and suppliers. Why spend a fortune if you don't have to?
• Check out what resources and extracurriculars your school offers. Most schools will have libraries, study areas, and help centers. Know where these are, and don't be afraid to utilize them. Often times, they're great for reinforcement even if you don't have a serious issue.
Top 10 School Supplies:
1.Writing instruments: pens pencils, markers
2. Writing pads, notebooks & clipboards,
3. Erasers, correction tape and fluid
4. Binders and accessories
5. Staplers, tape, glue
7. Lunch boxes
8. Backpacks and bags
10. Flash drives
Back to school time is only as stressful as you make it. Be prepared, get excited, but don't freak when all your planning falls to the wayside. Being in school is all about learning and discovery, both academically and personally, for students and the parents who love them. Don't let the details take that amazing journey away from you or your kids.
Read more from Angela M. Messier at Dear Aradia.
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