Planning ahead is the most important part of getting your children ready for school. Begin by talking to your child about their attitude and mindset: anxiety, tension, nervousness, frustration, and excitement. In dealing with these emotions ahead of time, you will help your child start the year off successfully.
Success begins with the Night before: Turn off TV’s and computers an hour before bedtime so that you can get organized for the next morning. Make lunches and gather school supplies together. Set out uniform or wardrobe and shoes for your child in their room. You can even set the table for breakfast the next morning. Make sure you have milk, cereal, eggs, bread, cheese, yogurt and fruit for healthy breakfast choices. Create a special zone for backpack and paperwork to be found easily in the morning before exiting the house.
Morning Routine: Set your alarm clock to wake and get dressed before you wake up your children. If they see you dressed and ready they will be more inclined to do the same. Good role-modeling is very important in the morning. Wake the harder- to-rise children first and then go back to get the others. If your child needs help getting dressed be patient and assist; perhaps playing some music can set the mood of the morning. Have healthy breakfast choices and easy clean up (paper plates and bowls might be helpful). Double check their lunches (hopefully made the night before) and snacks, homework assignment and anything else they need for school. Enjoy your coffee on the road.
During the Day: Make sure your child’s school has your important phone numbers and emergency information during the day. Plan your dinner menu and errands to be available to be finished by the time school lets out. Create an in home pharmacy. Stocking up on supplies will save you from running across town to all night pharmacy. Items such as bandages, cold medication and lice shampoo may be needed during the first week back. Re-stock your refrigeration for healthy snacks and food essentials. Get a few rolls of coins and some small bills. Stash them in a “penny jar” No more scrounging for loose change in an emergency. Prepare a “chore chart” or large wall calendar to list schedule of everyone’s afternoon school schedule.
After School Success: Arrive at the carpool line on time. The worse feeling for your child is waiting to be picked up. Give yourself enough time to get to school and be relaxed. (This might be the chance to have a second cup of coffee or ice tea in the car!) Prepare a snack for the drive home (popcorn, cut up fruit, grapes, cheese and crackers are good choices). This is your time to chat with your kids before you get home.
Dinner time and Homework: Hopefully, you have had time to plan dinner and set the table or provide a snack that can hold them until dinner is ready. Plan extra food so some of it can be offered for lunch the next day (you can also make the lunch at the same time you make dinner). Create a homework zone free from distractions. While older children may benefit from doing homework in their bedrooms or in the home office, younger children who need parental support could do their homework in the kitchen or dining room while their parents are preparing dinner. Decide on what time is appropriate for homework, chores, down time and the nightly bath routine. If you need a babysitter or homework helper, try to plan this in advance and warn your children. They might need extra attention the first few weeks of school.
Bedtime: Set or determine an appropriate time for bedtime and routine. Bath, reading, talking should all be discussed and agreed upon so there is minimal disagreements.
Start the Routine all over again for the next morning.
I will be teaching these principles and more at “Café Mom” on September 13, 2011 at 9:30am at the Jewish Family Service on Pico Blvd.