There’s more to getting ready to go back to school than new clothes and sharpened pencils. If all the lazy summer days have made you hazy on how to prepare for the new school year, our three-step guide and printable checklist can help you make the transition easier and set the tone for the entire year.
Ready or not, here it comes!
It’s always a little bittersweet when summer ends, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Going back to school is an ongoing process that requires preparation, organization and a game plan for staying on top of things. The last weeks of summer are a good time to de-clutter, stock up, and set up all the systems that will help you stay organized and engaged throughout the year. The more you prepare before the start of the busy fall schedule, the more likely you’ll be to juggle it all with ease. All it takes is some planning and foresight.
Break it into three
One great way to approach the task is to divide it into three areas to be tackled. Then approach them one at a time. Not only will it make the prospect of returning to school less daunting, but it will help you cover all your bases, too.
Okay, so you are a student and you have a million things to do before school starts, all in about five minutes. Still, it’s important to take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling. Talk to your parents about any concerns or questions you might have about going back to school. Once school starts, share your experiences and first impressions with them. The transition to a new school year can be challenging, and it’s important to check in with close friends and family members. Parents, if you have very young children entering preschool or kindergarten, take the time to talk to them about the new experiences they will soon have. Reading books about school is a good way to open up the conversation.
Before school starts
Parents, make sure to schedule physical exams and check immunizations requirements, and to take school forms with you to the doctor’s office. Talk about health issues that may come up during the year.
Before buying new clothes for school, it’s a good idea to go through your wardrobe and find what you may have outgrown. (Parents of small children can turn this into a fun fashion show.) Plan your shopping trip before you go, making lists of everything you need. Also, ask the school for a list of classroom supplies before buying them. Label things like clothes, sports equipment, supplies and/or uniforms.
Call the school or check the school district website to find out what paperwork will be required. Gather papers like documentation from immunization records, report cards from the previous school year, proof of medical examination for athletes, even birth certificates and confirmation of registration. Make sure all necessary forms have been completed, signed and returned to school and that your computer is ready for homework. Set aside an area for school newsletters, notices and other important papers and communications and make sure there’s a comfortable, quiet, well-lighted place in the house for studying and homework. Try getting in touch with teachers before school starts to get a sense of what supplies or equipment might be needed, get a sneak peeak at the class syllabus or reading lists.
One way for students and families to coordinate all their busy schedules, avoiding scheduling conflicts and keeping on top of it all is by creating a family event calendar. This “central” calendar, which should be placed in a high-traffic location in the house, can help track after-school activities, assignments, sports and volunteer work. Moms can aAssign a color to each family member, so that it’s easy to tell at a glance who is doing what. Another great thing to do is to use a smart phone or tablet to sync calendars on multiple devices at once. Things like school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, sports practice schedules and similar can also be added to or placed near the calendar to help everyone keep sight of the big picture. Finally, a great way to reduce last-minute scrambles in the morning is to set aside a space for all the things that will have to go out the door the next morning, such as books homework, lunch or lunch money, sports bags, etc. so
Staying engaged and involved
Among the most important skills a student can develop or a parent can instill in a child are organization, time management and the development of routine. When students organize their goals, aspirations, and accomplishments, they are much better able to realize these goals. Organization also contributes significantly to stress reduction and last minute scrambles like cramming for tests. One thing parents can do at the start of the year is to help students set and track realistic goals and reach those goals by planning ahead for homework assignments, projects and exams. By helping students set concrete goals together and figure out how much time it will take to accomplish tasks, parents can help teach time and stress management. One way to do this is to break big assignments into simple tasks. Assignments and goals can then be tracked on a calendar or chart which allows students to map out a game plan and visualize goals. Tasks can be crossed out as they are completed.
Use an assignment planner to list assignments, deadlines and exams. Keep one folder and one notebook per subject. Also, use notebooks for clarifying your thoughts when attacking a new assignment. With no email or Internet distraction, it’s easier to focus and produce higher-order thinking. In class, remember to take notes, write down assignments and ask questions.
[ ] Complete, sign and return to school all necessary forms
[ ] Attend any open houses or school orientations
[ ] If possible, obtain class syllabus before school starts
[ ] Review school rules and regulations with your child
[ ] Arrange play dates with friends from school to re-establish connections that may have been dropped for the summer, or to create new ones
[ ] Check bus, class, and after school schedules
Set Expectations and Routines
[ ] Plan ahead for extra-curricular activities and decide on which to enroll in
[ ] Create a lunch chart
[ ] Adjust sleep schedule gradually
[ ] Establish regular school-day times for homework, baths and bedtime
[ ] Establish rules regarding school day TV, video games and curfews
[ ] Establish family eating schedules
[ ] Develop systems for organization and time management and develop a routine
[ ] Set a school day schedule
[ ] Set and track realistic goals
[ ] Track assignments and goals on a calendar or chart
[ ] Use an assignment planner to list assignments, deadlines and exams.
[ ] Keep one folder and one notebook per subject
[ ] Find out if any after-school athletic activities require physical exams
[ ] Schedule physical exams and check immunization requirements
[ ] Take school forms with you to the doctor’s office
[ ] Talk about health issues or concerns
[ ] Find out if the school requires a uniform or has a dress code
[ ] Go through your wardrobe, find what you have outgrown
[ ] Make lists of what you need for school, sports and after school activities
[ ] Label clothes, sports equipment, supplies and/or uniforms
[ ] Ask the school for a list of classroom supplies before buying them
[ ] Check coupon websites like couponcabin.com for discounts
[ ] Make lists of all supplies, including athletic gear and lunchbox essentials
[ ] Shop for supplies with your child and organize them
[ ] Set aside an area for incoming school newsletters, notices and other important papers
[ ] Set aside a space for outgoing things such as books, homework, lunch or lunch money, sports bags
[ ] Create a central family event calendar to track after-school activities, assignments and sports and volunteer work
[ ] Create a lunch chart for meal planning
[ ] Make sure there’s a comfortable, quiet well-lighted place in the house for studying
[ ] Organize and stock workspace
Some tips on getting ready to go back to school, by age group:
[ ] Adjust sleep schedule gradually
[ ] Use pretend play to explore the idea of preschool.
[ ] Read books about preschool
[ ] Visit the school with your child ahead of time and meet teachers
[ ] Buy a backpack and/or lunchbox with your child, and let he/she choose it
[ ] Help your child adjust to the academics by working with them on kindergarten readiness skills such as writing their name, reviewing their letters, and problem-solving
[ ] Read books that help calm nerves about starting school
[ ] If the kindergarten curriculum is available, familiarize yourself with yout kindergartner will be expected to learn
[ ] Familiar with yourself with your school’s kindergarten and kindergarten readiness philosophy
[ ] Buy a combination lock so your child can practiceusing it over the summer
[ ] Familiarize yourself with your middle school’s system for teaching, whether vertical learning, or one teacher per subject
[ ] Help your child learn how to get organized and manage their time
[ ] Set goals for the year
[ ] Choose a system for tracking goals and staying organized
[ ] Plan high school course selections to meet recommended coursework for college