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Ten Things to Get Ready For Back to School
A few weeks ago, I saw school supplies in the stores. My first thought was, “Arrghh! It’s only July!” But then I started thinking about some of the things I want to get for the kids, and some of them take a little lead time.
So here is my list of 10 things to get ready for Back to School.
1. How many times have you sent your child to school with ten freshly sharpened pencils, and a week later they can’t find a pencil? Personalized pencils are available at quite a reasonable price. You could get a set of pencils with your child’s name on them. Those should be less likely to end up on someone else’s desk. Or how about a nickname, favorite quote or inside joke that will make your child smile? There are also fun pencils like scented Smencils or Swarovski Crystal pencils. Speaking of pencils, how about a fun pencil sharpener like these shaped like noses?
2. If your child uses the computer for reports or projects at school and at home, a thumb drive can help them carry their work in progress with them. They even make some that look like monsters, robots or animals.
3. Get a globe and map of the United States for your house. I’m amazed at how often my kids relate to these. It’s not just in the homework either. A question will pop up on a game show and the kids will run to the map to find the answer. It also helps children put things together. They can harden a globe and see how a flat map of the United States fits into it. You might even go as far as getting a map of your community so they can see their home, school, grocery store, and other places they frequent.
4. Get a wall calendar for your house and mark important dates on it for everyone to see. My favorite is Boynton’s Mom Calendar. Start with the school calendar. Mark the first day of school, holidays and minimum days. Add sports schedules and game dates. When the teacher asks your child to bring something to school on a certain date, have them mark it on the calendar. When your child asks you if they can make plans for Tuesday after school, send them to the calendar to check if they are free. This is the beginning of them managing their time, instead of you.
5. Planner. Schools are using planners for younger and younger children, and it’s a great idea. Long before they have to manage homework from six different classes, they are used to writing their homework in their planner every day. If your school sells planners at orientation or in the classroom, get one. It’s easier to use the same planner that everyone else is using. If your school doesn’t make planners in an organized way, you might want to think about getting a planner for your child anyway.
6. Lunch provisions. Start thinking about what you’re going to make for lunches. Will you send them to school with their lunch, give them money every day or buy lunch tickets? Start stocking lunch bags and Ziplocs. What things will you need for lunches? Make a grocery list (or better yet, have you kids make a grocery list) for the week before school starts. If your child is just getting used to being away at lunch, maybe you could get a nice notepad to write a little note to put in your child’s lunch each day.
7. Set homework. Children need a homework routine including a quiet place to do homework. Consider this before starting school. Is it easier to do homework at the kitchen table where you can supervise? Or are younger kids who have already finished their homework distracting kids who still have work to do? Can you set up a desk in their room? If they do homework at after-school care, set up a routine for kids to show you what they’ve done. You can check it against the scheduler and see if there is anything they need help with.
8. Establish a routine for papers that need to go to you. My least favorite part of school is when I get everyone ready and one of them announces that they have to bring (fill in the blank) to school today. Of course it’s usually something I need to go to the store for and somehow the notice never reached me. So as part of homework, your child has to put anything that has to go to you in a designated place.
9. Novels and textbooks. Younger children are often expected to read for a certain number of minutes each evening as part of their homework. For children in the upper grades, sometimes the teachers will give you a reading list at the beginning of the year. If you’re the first on your block to act, you might be able to find these novels at a used bookstore. Another option is to order them online. If you order a certain dollar amount of books, sometimes you can get free shipping. If you’re almost at that magic number, consider ordering another copy of something for the teacher to have as a backup.
Middle schoolers often have to lug heavy textbooks back and forth every day. If you can get the ISBN number of a textbook, you can buy a copy to keep at home. If you can use it, the cost can be very reasonable. Start with the math book because there is math homework almost every night. That also avoids the ever-popular, “I can’t do my homework because I didn’t bring my book home.”
10. Transportation plan. How will the children get to and from school? If they’re old enough to ride their bike this year, it’s time to make sure the tires and air and you have a bike lock and helmet that fits. If you plan to carpool, start calling other parents to work out a schedule.
The teachers always have lists of needed school supplies. You may be able to get most information early on your school’s website or in their office. The afternoon of the first day of school is a terrible time to shop. The stores are selling out and the lines are long. If you can, grab the essentials starting now while they’re on sale. When you see markers for 19 cents or folders for demon, get 3x what your child will need. They will have to replenish their supplies around winter break and spring break, and the prices won’t be as low then. You might also think about getting some extras to give to the teacher when you see a deal that’s too good to pass up.
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