Back to school basics and beyond

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Preparing to go back to school is an adjustment for everyone in the family.
Whether you’re a parent sending your first child to their first day of school or an experienced parent preparing for the last years of high school, the following are simple life hacks that can make returning to school better for everyone:

  • Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “school time” two weeks before the first day.
  • Get your kids involved in programs that they can do after school to keep them active.
  • Visit cultural attractions like museums to shift their brains into “scholar” mode.
  • Hire an after-school sitter to help care for your kids while you’re at work.
  • Encourage your kids to read at least one book before the school year begins.
  • Reacquaint your kids with the calendar schedule they’ll use to manage their activities.
  • Set up weekly meetings to review your kids’ schedules for the week(s) ahead.
  • Create a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
  • Refresh your rules about screen time for the school year. What’s allowed and when?
  • Establish a set “family time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  • Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  • Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  • Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  • Discuss what your kids can expect on the first day so they feel more prepared.
  • Visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environments.
  • Get the lists of school supplies, books and technology your kids will need.
  • Inventory last year’s school supplies before going out to buy more.
  • Include your kids in back-to-school shopping by letting them pick out their items.
  • Establish a specific space like the family office as the official “homework area.”
  • Remove distractions like TVs and video game consoles from homework areas.
  • Repurpose and relabel plastic tubs to organize all school supplies.
  • Set and enforce regular weekday and weekend bedtimes.
  • Set and enforce regular weekday and weekend wake-up calls.
  • Keep track of existing extracurricular activities to prevent over-scheduling.
  • Have your kids set realistic goals for the new year, such as reading 30 books.
  • Touch base with teachers early on to troubleshoot any issues your kids may be having.
  • Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.
  • Encourage your kids to lay out their school clothes the night before.
  • Have your kids pack their school bags before they go to sleep that night.
  • Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  • File or scan assignments that you want to keep.
  • Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  • Inventory your kids’ wardrobes and toss/donate things they’ve outgrown.
  • Create a list and budget for back-to-school shopping.
  • Get copies of school menus in advance to discuss lunch choices.
  • Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus.
  • Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus.
  • Shop for school supplies and clothes early. Avoid the rush.
  • Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  • Keep a single, easy-access file for vaccination records and other important papers.


(List compiled from care.com.)

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