For the past couple of weeks, but this week especially, a ton of first-day-of-school photos have blanketed our Facebook news feed. While we’re still a few weeks out in New York City, we are gearing up too, and have some tried-and-true “back-to-school” tips from our moms on staff – with kids ranging in age from 2 months to 20 years – as discussed over the water cooler this August:
BEFORE THE FIRST DAY:
- Kid bedtimes can look more like a grown-up’s in the summer. Gradually move up bedtime to get your kids back on their school sleep schedule a couple of weeks before the first day.
- Buy all the back-to-school supplies a couple of weeks ahead. This helps prevent the last-minute scrambling (and panic!) that begins to set in as items become sold out and harder to find.
- It’s helpful to involve your kids in the back-to-school shopping experience. Choosing fun lunch boxes and backpacks can generate excitement about starting the new school year.
DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR:
- Do all that you can to prepare the night before. That means clothes have been selected, backpacks are ready and by the door, and lunches are packed. It makes the morning much less hectic. (This is a good tip for parents who commute as well!)
- Put all of the important school dates in your calendar as soon as you get them. It doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to attend every school event, but it increases the odds!
- And speaking of school events, give yourself a pass (or two) at the start of the year that you won’t be able to attend or volunteer for all of them, and let your kids know too. It’s okay – the times you are there will be treasured by both parent and child.
- Get creative when it comes to finding out what happened at school. One way we’ve done this is by asking “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the worst part of your day?” Or “Tell me something funny/amazing/ridiculous that happened to you today.”
- Packing lunches can be a monotonous chore, but it doesn’t have to be. Have the kids select their own healthy snacks for lunch while you are shopping. When they get older, have them pack their own lunch, and even pack yours (you’ll definitely find some surprises).
ALL YEAR LONG:
- Have your child pick out a backpack or school supplies to donate to a classroom for students who may be without classroom essentials. Or consider making a donation to your favorite nonprofit that supports families, like the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Take time to explain to your child why you’re giving and the importance of supporting causes and helping others.
- Keep talking, keep listening, keep learning. Whether your child is toddling through preschool or meandering through middle school, have ongoing conversations with your child about the risks of drugs and alcohol at every age. One place to get started is our Parent Toolkit.