Back to School Tips and Tricks

Published by Catherine Durkin Robinson on

Summer is almost over, stores are stocked with supplies, and parents are preparing their kids for a new school year. Whether you have elementary or middle school kids, high schoolers, mainstream learners or special needs students – it helps to have them all “back to school” ready by day one.

Here’s how to make that happen.

Elementary and middle school students

Supplies

Most teachers send out a list of back to school supplies and these are needed the first day. 

If your state has a tax-free holiday for clothes and supplies, wait until that day/weekend to buy what you need. Otherwise, get in early before stores run out of popular items.

Uniforms

Does your school require uniforms? If so, call and ask if they sell gently used uniforms from previous school years. 

Parents usually drop clothes off in May and the school sells them at bargain prices in August and September.

Assigned seats

Normally, from kindergarten through 5th grade, teachers assign seats.

In middle school, students choose where to sit in some classrooms the first day. Then teachers map out their own seating plan by the second week of school. Have your students write down where their seat is located, so they don’t forget.

Clean clothes

Part of your Sunday night routine can be looking through your students’ clothes for the week. Are they clean and ironed? Create a space for them in the closet where they are easily accessible in the morning. This is recommended whether the school requires uniforms or not.

You’ll feel less stress each morning if the decision of “what to wear” is already made.

For middle school students, parents can still ensure clothes they’ve chosen are ready to wear. The kids may pretend not to like it, but double checking helps simplify mornings for everyone.

Backpacks

Organize backpacks each night before the kids go to bed. Assist younger children to include folders, permission slips, completed homework and anything else needed in school the next day.

Mornings can be rushed and/or chaotic. Therefore, having supplies ready to go makes it easier for kids to start their days the right way.

Lunches

Recent studies show that for younger kids, school lunches are healthier than packed lunches. As students get older, however, they are more in charge of their own choices.

You know your children better than anyone. If they tend to favor healthy foods, let them eat what the school offers. After all, cafeterias today have plenty of quality options.

If you want to pack their lunches, here is a good guide to make them as nutritious as possible.

Back to school for teenagers

Check out the recommendations above

Hopefully you’ve built a good solid foundation in elementary and middle school. Setting out clothes, lunches and/or supplies the night before is a good idea no matter the age or grade. Continue doing what works best for your family.

Orientation

As kids get older, orientation becomes more important for them to attend with parents

Getting into the school ahead of time allows students to get a feel for the new building. They can practice walking to each classroom without worrying about a tardy bell.

They will also meet their teachers.This gives both parents and students the opportunity to ask questions. Get an understanding of what is expected that year. Parents also learn how best to support their growing kids.

Be ready to listen

High school is an entirely new experience for your kids.

In addition to hormonal and body changes, they’re going to meet new friends and try new experiences. Teenagers feel pressure in the form of high-stakes tests and advanced courses. Sports and other interests loom. Be open to their feelings and emotions so they can turn to you for guidance.

Plan ahead

Keep track of all the different activities coming up.

Mark down the dates of midterms, finals, and other tests. Note the due dates of term papers, essays, and projects. List other commitments like basketball practice or play rehearsals.

Encourage involvement

Your teenager will benefit from joining STEM clubs, trying out for sports teams, or getting involved in creative or performing arts. Involvement in extracurricular activities helps them feel a part of the greater school community. Their grades and self-esteem will go up, too.  

Special needs students going back to school

Organize

If you’re the parent of a special needs student, you know the importance of organization. Keeping track of IEPs, documentation, and day-to-day information isn’t easy. Devote an entire file or desk drawer in the family office. Use folders you can label. Or set aside paperwork in a closet or dresser if necessary.

A communications folder

Be sure to keep all correspondence between you and your student’s teachers. Keep in mind that teachers and their aides often have 180-250 students on their caseload.

You have one on their caseload. 

Help them help you by staying on top of whatever is needed. Use gentle reminders and meet with them regularly. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate.

Communicate

Remind your child that you are here to listen. Let them vent about any anxiety they might feel.

It’s hard not to fix things for the daughter or son you love so much. But remember that older children can often solve their own problems. Self-advocacy is an important skill to learn before they graduate.

They just need a wise and loving parent to listen, encourage and believe in them.

Stay informed

Keep up with new or updated special education legislation in your area. For example, set up Google alerts so you receive relevant news quickly.

In addition, follow your state’s Department of Education on social media and sign up for newsletters.

Be an involved parent

Attend parent events at school when you can.

Parents, administrators and teachers are on the same side. Your child will benefit from you knowing each other and working together throughout the year.

No matter the age, make sure your kids:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
  • Take notes during the day and write down assignments/due dates.
  • Eat dinner with the family each night to go over the day’s events.
  • Start going to bed earlier, and waking up earlier, about a week before school starts. This will make going back to school an easier adjustment.

From everyone here at KidzToPros, have a great year.


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