Move over, summer – a new school year is upon us! LSU AgCenter Certified Family Life Educator Dr. Diane D. Sasser shares her joy of anticipation with six steps on preparing for the event.
1. Prepare yourself mentally. “Resolve to make your back-to-school preparations now without waiting until the last minute,” Sasser says.
2. Get everyone and everything organized. “Clear off that hall table or some spot that will be the site for your family scheduling books or planners,” Sasser advises. Maybe call it the “family business” table or place. This is where you put the family calendar for all those school activities, programs, parent-teacher meetings and life!
“Keep the family business area restricted to anything related to time and family management,” she recommends. Remind everyone to check and double check dates and activities so no one is running around late for soccer practice or without a ride to the school play just because someone forgot to check the family calendar.
3. Practice for the first day of school. “Ease yourself and the family into a school-year schedule,” Sasser says, noting, “The first day of school is no time for a major change in sleep schedules.” Instead, have children practice getting ready for the first day of school by easing them into the school-time routine of waking earlier and getting ready for their day and going to bed earlier for adequate rest.
Start this transition about two weeks before school starts. “Don't neglect mealtimes, especially breakfast,” she emphasizes, explaining, “Younger children in particular need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them.” Plan meals and snacks to accustom little ones to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.
4. Plan before you shop. Clothing retailers love the back-to-school shopping crowd. Why? “Because we all get frantic with making sure the children have just the right clothes, backpacks and school supplies,” Sasser says, adding, “Back-to-school clothing sales begin in July, and we buy like we’ll never have a chance to shop again!
“But stop! Take time to plan before you buy,” she cautions. Take an afternoon to assess each child's clothing needs. Empty drawers and closets of outgrown or worn-out clothing, and either store them or donate them. Working with your child, clean and organize clothing storage before new garments are added. This will cut down on school morning calls of "Mom! Where is my …?" and “I don’t have any clean…!”
Put together a list of clothing needs for each child. Check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings as you make your list. If school uniforms are required, check your school, local churches and neighbors for slightly used uniforms. Kids outgrow clothing so fast that many of the uniforms from the previous year probably still look like new. Get that school supply list as soon as possible. Shop early.
“By including your children in the discussion for clothing and school supply needs and budget, you'll avoid in-the-store tantrums and whining about getting the same items as their schoolmates,” Sasser says, remarking, “And the way stores seem to keep moving up the dates when they release seasonal items, you’d better buy early or your child will only have Halloween costumes or Christmas decorations to wear back to school!”
5. Be sure your papers are in order. Did you remember to register your child for the school year? Do you have all of his immunization records up to date? Do you have proof of residency, light bills and similar documents that establish your residency in that school district? “Call the school to find out everything you and your child will need before starting school,” Sasser advises. Again, that family business spot comes in handy to keep things together.
6. Plan for tomorrow the night before. “Starting the day begins the night before unless you like starting the day on a frantic, chaotic and frustrated note,” Sasser says, explaining, “Train everyone in the family to do the same by having them select and lay out the next day’s clothing the night before.” Plan together, and post the next day’s chores, bathroom times and breakfast menu. Place necessary books, papers, lunch money and related items on the family business table and avoid crazy, wild mornings where no one knows where anything is.
Editor: Mark Claesgens