“10 Tips To Make Back To School Awesome”

September 6, 2015

Lisa Baumgartner[Opinion column written by Lisa Baumgartner]

Getting ready for a new school year can be exciting! It may also be a major cause of anxiety or stress. Preparing children ahead of time can ease the transition from the familiarity and comforts of home into the classroom. Planning ahead and being organized for the week will reduce stress and will allow you to focus your energy on settling your child into school.

1. Get together with friends
Whether your child is starting a new school or returning to a familiar one, social time with friends always helps the transition from home to school. Ask your child’s teacher for a class list and reach out to other parents and arrange a few play dates, allowing your child to form or rekindle friendships that will ease the move into their school environment. Plan a special activity, like swimming, bowling or mini golf, and they will create special memories to talk about when they see each other on the first day.

2. Re-establish school routines and plan healthy meal plans
Ensuring your child is well-rested and well-fed with healthy, unprocessed foods, will ensure they are at their best for the school day. Exhaustion and being hyped up on sugary foods can lead to fidgety behavior, an inability to concentrate, and fatigue during the day.

3. Reach out to your child’s teacher
At the beginning of each school year, send a brief email to the teacher, with a photo of your child, names of their siblings and pets, as well as a few of their favorite activities. Bullet points make for an easier read! If your child has unique needs, this is a great opportunity to inform or remind your child’s teacher. Ideally, most schools host an orientation to give the children a chance to meet their new teachers and see their classrooms. If your school doesn’t host an orientation, ask to tour the school and meet the teacher before the first day.

4. Practice the drive or walk to school or the bus stop before the first day
If your child is attending a new school, or there is a change in the drop off routine, practice once or twice before the first day. Look for fun or notable landmarks along the way. This will teach your child what to look for and expect along their route to school. Play a game of I-Spy! It’s a great way to ease any school drop-off jitters [both yours and theirs] when they are young and is sure to become a favorite childhood memory.

5. Let your child help pack their own backpack and waste-free lunchbox
With the desire to send your child off with the perfectly packed backpack and lunch, parents may overlook this important step and pack everything neatly themselves. Allowing your child to help do it will foster their independence, teach important life skills, and will allow them to quickly find the items they will need during the busy school day. Be sure to send your child’s favorite snack and lunch foods. The first day of school is not a good time to pack new food items. Let them help to make healthy choices with food they are already comfortable.

Favorite Tip: Create a launch pad! This is a designated spot in your home where school gear is stored: backpacks, lunch bags, gym bags. You can buy some fun duct tape and create a square area for each child to put their belongings. Anything you can do to facilitate your child’s independence is helpful for them and for the family

6. Hug your child’s teacher!
Whether it’s during the orientation evening, school event or at drop-off, it’s important for your child to see that you trust their teacher and that everything is going to be okay. Forming a supportive, trusting relationship with your child’s teacher and school staff is one of the best investments in your child’s education that you can make.

7. Remain calm and make drop off a quick and positive goodbye – don’t linger!
Dropping off your child at school is often harder on moms than it is on the kids. Don’t show your anxiety or emotions, or your child will pick up on your worry and that will be upsetting for them. Give them a hug, wish them a happy day, and tell them that you will see them right after school. Say only ONE goodbye! Turning back only confuses your child, especially when they are of preschool age, which can be very upsetting. Trust your child’s teacher and the school – they love your kids too!

8. Leave an encouraging note in your child’s lunchbox.
Sending a positive, personally written note in your child’s lunch is like packing a smile or a hug in with their food. For children who have Asperger’s Syndrome, or any social anxiety, a favorite cartoon printout, like Garfield, can be a great way to calm their nerves and give them something to talk about with their lunch buddy.

9. Take Your Child Out For a Fun Activity After School
Going for a frozen yogurt, stopping at the book store or going to the park are great ways to celebrate the first day back at school. Ask your child to share the highlights of their day, and the conversation carries itself from there. Taking the time for these moments helps to foster open communication with your child, and will start the school year on a positive, happy note.

10. Take a Picture!
As busy as the first day of school is, you will always be grateful for having taken the time to snap a quick picture! It’s worth getting up 10 minutes early.

Lisa Baumgartner is the creator of Funkins – reusable cloth napkins for kids – and a Public Relations professional, but first and foremost a mother. She is very involved in her children’s schools and is always looking for creative ways to teach kids how to care for the planet. Visit the Funkins website at www.myfunkins.com

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