Whether you’re sad to see them go or jonesing for a quieter house, it is what it is: The first day of school is upon us. If you live in Stepping Stone™, August 8 is the start day for all the kiddos, whether they attend Prairie Crossing Elementary School, Sierra Middle School, or Chapparal High School. (Learn more about Stepping Stone schools here.)
If you, like many of us, still have summer on the brain and need to shore up your formerly mad multi-tasking skills, never fear. We’ve gathered some resources to ease you back into the lunch-packing, homework-checking world. Stepping Stone’s Pinterest page has an excellent cross-section of ideas for everyone from your kindergarteners to your college kids.
Here’s just one area to whet your, well, appetite: school lunches. Ever stood paralyzed in the grocery store aisle wondering what to buy for school lunches besides Skippy and grape jelly? Try these suggested all-natural products or these, smartly packed to avoid sogginess. And here’s a cute, tasty take on tucking love notes into their lunches: magic message bananas. Using a toothpick, simply scratch your “I love you” on the banana skin, which will darken into legibility by the time lunch rolls around. So clever.
There’s no shortage of other Pinterest websites with practical back-to-school tips. Not surprisingly, GoodHousekeeping.com has plenty to say on this topic, such as 25 Tips to Breeze Through Back-to-School Prep Like a Boss. Here, you can further refine your kid-feeding skills with a lunchbox cupboard, well-stocked with thermoses, containers, and pantry snacks. Or, better yet, let your older kids take charge, using this poster of How to Make a School Lunch, with item suggestions in categories like “main course” and “fruit or veggie.”
Tweens will appreciate a back-to-school emergency kit, stocked with handy items like stain remover, tampons, deodorant, and chapstick. Wondering how much sleep your growing kids need, especially with those early start times? Check out this chart of how many hours of sleep children require at every age.
Streamline your everyday processes with practical tips, such as creating a command center (with car keys, permission slips, etc). Or this school supply caddy, which enables kids to easily move the homework pile off the dining room table at dinnertime. This bin for returning library books will help you avoid pesky late fees.
Care.com ups the game with 101 back-to-school tips, with most focusing more on “big picture” ideas of how to achieve academic success. All were provided by Dr. Fran Walfish, a child and family psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” and Christina Nichols, PhD, a licensed clinical school psychologist. Here are highlights:
- A week or two before the school year begins, kids should start going to bed and waking up as they would on school days—it can take a while for their bodies to adjust to non-summer hours.
- Take kids to cultural attractions like museums or historical sites the week before school starts. Get them thinking about subjects they’ll be tackling in the year ahead.
- Encourage kids to read a book in the week or two before school begins. Ease them into quiet time, while giving them a jumpstart on refreshing their reading skills.
- Use a homework app such as iHomework or MyHomeWork to help kids organize assignments.
- Set or refresh the rules about technology and screen time during the school year. What’s allowed and when?
- Use an egg timer to help kids focus for specific periods of time. Make it a game.
- Avoid becoming the Homework Cop by setting an alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
- Touch base with teachers early in the semester to identify and troubleshoot behavioral or study issues. Open lines of communication go a long way. Here are 20 questions to ask.
- Talk with your kids about their feelings around returning to school. Discuss fears, concerns or worries openly to reassure your child. Hit on these 5 Back-to-School Worries.
And finally, for your older kids, share this article from The Huffington Post. Speaking directly to them, the author offers sound advice, such as using an agenda to keep track of assignments and after-school activities, getting involved in school activities, and not procrastinating. These tips will help establish good habits even into college, and beyond.