As summer draws to a close, many families in Hampton Roads are rushing around to get ready to go back to school.  It can be an exciting, yet hectic and stressful, time for students and their parents. Back-to-school is one situation where it pays to be proactive, so consider these three tips for making this school year the best one yet.

1. Get Organized
Think about your routines from last year. Were you losing permission forms? Was homework left behind on the kitchen counter? Were you rushing back in from the bus stop to grab shoes for PE? Was every morning a mad dash to make it to school on time with all needed papers and supplies?  Start this year right by implementing a few systems to help your routines run smoothly. Decide where your child will do homework (hint: not near the TV), and stock up on the needed supplies.  Set up a basket or paper tray (on the counter or mounted on the wall) where you can keep school papers and forms.  Think through your evening routine and make a plan with your child to get school things organized the night before — backpack stuffed, papers signed, clothes selected and shoes located, and everything ready in a designated spot. Keep a family calendar in a shared spot so everyone’s on the same page.  These are simple modifications that can really de-stress your mornings.

2. Get On Schedule
Don’t wait until Labor Day weekend to get your child’s bedtime back on school hours — that’s too late!  Start the shift now if you haven’t already.  You want your child to be rested and bright-eyed on the first day of school.  In our house, we’ve been kind of terrible with enforcing a bed time. If bedtime is supposed to be 8:30, we find that pajama-selecting, teeth-brushing, story-reading, water-getting, etc. all add up to kids who are still awake at 10:00 p.m.  Lately, we’ve been doing a “head to bed time,” and it’s working much better. Instead of shooing the kids upstairs at 8:28 for 8:30 bedtime, we start the routines much earlier, around 7:45.  This gives everyone time to unplug from iPods and TV, handle their bedtime routines, and have quiet moments to read and talk before lights out.  

3. Get In Touch with School
Now is the time to think about any special communications that could help your child as the school year starts. If your child has allergies or special medical needs, get in touch with the school nurse. If your child has learning needs and has an IEP or 504 plan, get in touch with her teacher or the school’s case manager and make sure that everyone is aware of your child’s learning needs.  If your child has a weak subject or needs remediation, get in touch with us!  We can talk about back-to-school tutoring programs.  If you can, consider reaching out to your child’s teacher and offering to help with back-to-school set-up and parent communication.  Even if you can’t volunteer in the classroom, introducing yourself and staying in the loop is a great way to show support for your child’s education. 

Teachers and parents, what strategies will YOU use to make this school year the best one yet?