You may be seeing all of the Pinterest boards and Facebook posts from parents who have been organizing their homes and making amazing lunch stations and homework stations for their children this summer. And, you may be feeling overwhelmed by what others are doing when you think about what you have not been doing to get ready for back to school. Fear not! There still is time to get your home and your family ready, and you don’t have to go to great lengths to do it. There are some simple steps you can take to prepare for back to school.
1. Look at what you already have
You may be surprised by how many pencils, markers, and other school supplies you have around your home. Enlist your kids to start going through drawers, desks, and old backpacks to see what you have in your house. To make it more fun, turn it into a game with your children. Turn it into a scavenger hunt or award points for each item found that is on a teacher’s list.
This tip also works for school clothes. Most kids can start the year in the same clothes they wore at the end of the previous school year, and the weather typically is warm enough for kids to wear shorts and T-shirts for at least the first couple of weeks back in the classroom. You also can save some money at the beginning of the year by waiting to buy clothes that are on clearance after the initial back-to-school sales period.
2. Get kids back into a routine
You don’t need to walk kids through each and every step of their back-to-school routine, but you should work on getting them to bed earlier and getting them up earlier in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Get them on a schedule so that the night before school starts is easier on everyone. It’s also a good idea to get them into a routine of eating meals at regular times so they are ready to eat breakfast, snack, and lunch at the same time they will on a school day.
For older kids, it’s a good idea to get them into a full morning routine so they know exactly how much time they will have to finish eating, brush their teeth, and pack their bags to make it to the bus stop or into your car on time. Eliminate some of their wasted time while it is still summer so they are completely into their routine when school starts.
3. Streamline the lunch-packing process
While you may not be ready to clear out your pantry and make a full-fledged lunch-packing station, you can move your supplies around to streamline the process. Put your plastic bags, plastic containers, and lunch boxes in a central location and consider planning a week of lunches at once so you know exactly which days you need to pack lunches and which days you need to be sure your kids have lunch money or tickets. Hanging a school menu on the refrigerator and asking your kids to mark the days they want to pack will ensure that everyone knows when a lunch is needed.
It’s also in everyone’s best interests if you pre-pack your kids’ lunches, or have them pre-pack their own lunches, the night before. You will save time and stress if your kids’ lunches are ready for them to grab on the way out the door in the morning.
4. Make a central location for school supplies and materials
No, you do not need to buy new furniture and beautiful baskets to make a school zone in your home. But, you can designate one area of your den or kitchen as the spot for important papers from school, and you can help your kids find a spot in your home where they can complete homework and focus on their reading. Be sure that this spot is away from distractions like the television and other electronics and that it is in an area of your home that is away from foot traffic and other noise.
Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.