Note: This post is sponsored by and written in collaboration with South Carolina Calvert Academy.
The smell of a new notebook, the sharp points on a new box of crayons, full length pencils with no teeth marks – are only the beginning of the excitement of a new school year. With all items checked off of the classroom supply list and the “new” aroma still lingering, what else can be done to ensure your family gets off to the right start?
Start preparing now.
If you are like me, all signs of a routine seem to magically disappear over the summer. The pace is slower, and on some days the clock is overlooked all together. Soon, a blasting alarm will sound and place us back into reality with the rush of another school year. Now is the time to prepare for the first sounds of the alarm clock. You don’t actually have to set it yet, but begin working toward a bedtime routine. Research has shown that children ages 5-12 need anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Slowly begin working toward a set bedtime.
If it is still too light out and your child can’t seem to fall asleep, have them read. Maybe there is a book they are required to read or one of interest on their grade level reading list from the school or library that will work. Younger readers can look at picture books and tell the story using the images or make up a story of their own. Having them in bed and quiet is a start. With a set bedtime established, you are well on your way to the first day!
Once the sound of the alarm becomes routine, the remainder of the morning should be as close to a routine as possible too. Talk as a family beforehand and make a plan. Early on, my girls would groggily wander into the living room, sit in front of the TV and eat their breakfast like sloths. Interrupting their steady gaze to finish eating, get dressed, brush their teeth and fix their hair became a hassle and groggy quickly turned into grumpy.
The morning routine sets the tone for the day. Today, the girls have to make their bed and get dressed before exiting their room. They eat at the kitchen counter, and the television sleeps in. Then it’s off to brush their teeth and hair. Their backpacks are packed and organized the night before, and if lunch boxes are on the menu, they are prepared as well. With bags in hand, they head out the door.
Most mornings, everyone leaves in good spirits. We do have our moments when the outfit planned the night before does not seem to be “the one” come morning, or there is a form that needs to be signed and money provided that magically appears as we’re walking out the door. The pace is quicker though, and they move with it as opposed to dragging a sloth through the rush of outfit changes and raiding piggy banks.
If you’re fortunate enough to not have a commute, in the instance where you are virtually schooling your child(ren) at home, while a set routine is still necessary for consistency, the morning rush isn’t as big of a hurtle, allowing you to ease into the school day and take advantage of extra morning energy and focus to tackle more challenging course material with your child.
It might be a day into the school year or a few weeks, but the homework and projects will come. How do you control it all on top of after school activities, dinner and the few minutes of family time that remains at the close of the day? Plan it out now.
Is there a family calendar so that you can see who is doing what and when? Where will homework be completed? Stock up on school supplies for the home too. Notebook paper and pencils will be gone before you can blink.
Create a supply area at home with anything that might be needed to assist with homework and projects. No homework? There is always something that can be done. Index cards and markers are handy in creating flashcards for spelling, multiplication, or vocabulary words.
The test isn’t until next week? The teacher very likely covers the material over several weeks. Reviewing notes and what was covered in class for at least 10 minutes every night in each subject is certain to make the grade as opposed to cramming and trying to remember everything the night before a big test.
I’ll share one more personal tool before we head into the race of another school year. A friend with three school-aged children shared it with me, and it works! Papers! What do you do with them all? In our house, each child has an accordion file. I put everything including newsletters, graded items, miscellaneous art that misses the refrigerator display in the accordion. At the close of the school year, we sort through it together. If there is art they can’t part with, it goes to the back of the file with report cards, standardized testing scores, etc. All other items are discarded, and we start fresh the next year.
The summer goes all too quickly! I trust you will enjoy these last few weeks and get your children involved in planning a nightly, morning, and afternoon routine that will work for everyone and offer a successful start to the school year. Don’t forget to breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh start!
About the author: Amanda Youngblood is a teacher with the South Carolina Calvert Academy (SCCAL). She teaches 7th & 8th grade ELA and 8th grade Social Studies. SCCAL is a K-8, tuition-free public virtual charter school available to families statewide in South Carolina. To learn more about the program and view their schedule of upcoming events, click here.