School starts back in most states next week, it is the time to start preparing yourself, the kids and your home for the first day of school – putting routines in place in the mornings so you aren’t running around frantically to preparing the kids back to routines and school time sleeping hours.
Here are some of my tips to prepare yourself, the kids and the home for school:
Having all the kids uniforms, book supplies, bags, lunch boxes etc labelled before school starts. This will save your stress levels during the year if items go missing. Lunch boxes and drink bottles always go wandering, left behind in the eating area or another child accidentally takes it home, but if they are clearly labelled it usually will find back to the rightful owner.
You spend so much money on uniforms, which you don’t want them to go missing. If clearly labelled they should find their way back to the owner. Plus it’s also easy to distinguish which uniform belongs to which child when folding away clean washing.
Before your child starts school it’s important that they now know how to do particular things themselves such as:
- Open their lunch box
- Open food in lunchbox, ie peel off yoghurt covers, peel banana
- Open drink bottles
- Dress themselves
- Go to the bathroom themselves
- Wash their hands
- Helping to pack school bag
- Getting in and out of the car themselves with their school bag
- Ensure they can recognise their own bag, lunchbox etc.
It’s important for children to start doing tasks for themselves and making their own decisions and choices. Children that have too much done for them will become reliant on others which will hinder their self-confidence, resulting in helplessness, frustration and anger when it comes to the time they need to do it themselves.
It’s our motherly instincts that want us to do everything for our kids, but we need to let go for the benefit of the kids, as children who are responsible and independant are more likely to succeed in school and socially.
Visit your schools website and browse through all the pages, taking note of school starting and finishing hours, uniform policies, tuckshop days and browse the menu (print out so you have it on hand, keep it where you would keep the brown paper bags).
Set dates in your calendar
When your browsing the schools website look for the events calendar, this will have dates for teacher/parent information nights, upcoming assembly days, public holidays, student free days etc. Write all this information in your calendar so you don’t forget important dates and can book kids into extra care if needed for student free days.
Visit the school
Most schools usually open by the end of the last week of the school holidays. If you are new to the school take your child in for a walk to familiarise themselves with classrooms, toilet blocks play areas etc. This would be a good chance if you roughly know where your child’s classroom is to designate a pick up area where they can meet you after school.
As you are walking around the school encourage your child to ask questions.
Don’t be a friend pimp
Teach your child to make their own friends. Encourage them to go up to their classmates and ask if they can play with them, or sit with them for lunch. Don’t be a friend pimp and look for the ‘friendliest’ looking mum in the playground who you think you will get along with and then push your children together. This is creating important social skills for your kids. But in saying this it is also a lovely idea to be friendly with the other school mums, but it’s not necessary to push your kids together.
Get enough sleep
Most families are usually lenient with bedtime during school holidays, but it is good practice to get back into routine the week before school goes back so you are not battling with them the night before schools starts and not sleeping in till all hours. It is recommended the kids have the following amount of hours sleep:
- 3-6 years: 10-12 hours – bedtime example: 7pm
- 7-12 years: 10-11 hours – bedtime example: 8pm
- 12-18 years: 8-9 hours – bedtime example: 9pm
As children get older, with school, sporting and social commitments bedtime gradually becomes later.
Have a home for everything
Create a home for all the kid’s school items:
- Bag storage, see how I store our bags here and a great list of readers images here.
- Designated area for lunch bags (I keep mine in the bottom of the pantry)
- Tell the children where you would like dirty lunch boxes and drink bottles
- Homework areas, see my homework station here and one I created for a reader here.
- Area for shoes
Let your children know what you expect of them. Rule considerations:
- Will the kids watch TV on school mornings
- Will you limit TV time in the evenings
- When do you want homework done, after afternoon tea, before dinner or after dinner
- Do you expect your child to empty their own school bag
- What you would like them to do with uniforms once they get changed
Don’t continually repeat yourself
Have a list of tasks that you want the children to complete each morning. ie. Have breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth. I want to go into a morning routine in more detail soon, however, want to share the benefit of creating a routine chart is that it will stop you nagging, yelling and repeating yourself.
I created this routine chart for my kids when they started kindy, to stop me continually repeating myself each day. When I created it I considered the order I want them to complete the tasks, in particular to brush their teeth before they got dressed to prevent toothpaste falling onto their clean uniform.
I have framed mine, but you can laminate them, or print and blu-tak straight to wall.
The more that you read print can be found here.
Encourage your children to leave their room tidy before school starts. All school age children have the ability to make their bed, allow them the independence of doing it themselves, and perhaps it may not be to your standard, but save yourself time and don’t re-do it, be proud they have made the effort. Here are a few more things I allow to be ‘perfectly imperfect’.
Give children responsibly tasks
It’s an important lesson for the kids to help around the home, to share the responsibility of household tasks. School age children have the ability to do tasks such as unpack the dishwasher, sweep the floor etc. You will find a full list of age appropriate children’s task ideas here.
Prepare the night before
Before the kids go to bed get them to:
- they have clean uniforms
- packed their homework into their school bag
- have all other items in their school bag and ready for next day ie. sports uniform, show and tell
If you find you have a very busy morning you may want to prepare your school lunches the night before and keep them in the fridge ready to place into school bags in the morning.
Create a laundry system for school uniforms
If you purchased only a few school uniforms you will need to create a plan of laundry attack to ensure that you allow time to wash uniforms through the week so they have enough uniforms for the end of the week. I have a laundry schedule which you can read about here.
Planning food for kids lunch boxes is essential. Kids need to have healthy nutritious lunches and by planning ahead you are going to have all the food required in the fridge or pantry and eliminate the stress of wondering what to pack for lunch. I use this lunchbox planner here.
You can read some of my lunch box idea posts here:
What is your best tip for preparing for school returning?