Are you ready for getting back into the daily routine that is back-to-school? By the time we get to August, my kids and I are in desperate need of putting a little routine back into our days. But, we’re not really ready to get back-to-school in a very real sense – we try to squeeze in as many water park, roller coaster, and beach days as we can during our last days of freedom. All while looking forward to school starting and a little more structure. Here in Virginia, we don’t get started until the day after Labor Day, so I’ve still got quite a while to plan and organize.
However, I know some of my family members are starting back as early as August 17th! Back-to-school time is upon us. Especially in the stores. I was shopping at Walmart yesterday and noticed a plethora of school supplies lining the shelves in colorful array and fabulous prices too. I started stocking up. Even if we don’t start for another month, it’s definitely time to save on supplies!
Now is a great time to start slowly getting organized for the back-to-school mayhem. Here are seven ways to get ready for a smooth transition into the new school year.
Take Stock of the School Supplies You Have Before You Shop
If you are like me, you have a stash somewhere already with leftover notebooks, pencils grabbed on clearance, paper packs you picked up for 50 cents each, and more. It’s time now to get all the school supplies you already have floating around and gather them into one place. Take stock. Get them all in one place and write a list of what you have by category. Take your lists of what you have and what you need with you so you don’t over buy.
Get Rid of the Old School Papers and Stuff
Now is a good time to make a small portfolio for each child, saving some of their most impressive papers, stories, and artwork – you know – for their graduation party display. If you have large pieces of art still taking up space, take a picture and print it out for the portfolio. Enlist the help of your child to make the portfolio!
I purchase simple three-ring folders at Walmart for 50 cents and a box of full-page labels. Each child creates a picture for the front using colored pencils or markers on the label. Then I have each child go through their old school work and help choose what goes in the portfolio. Let go of all but the best.
Clean out the cabinets and drawers and find all the crumpled papers, pencil shavings, and empty glue containers. It will be freeing to get all of that old stuff into the trash before the new school year starts!
Prepare Quick Breakfast Options
A little time spent now to make breakfast muffins, breakfast cookies, quick breads like our Amazingly Perfect Banana Bread, and breakfast casseroles for the freezer will make the start of school so much easier. How nice to just pull something out of the freezer the night before, or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds the morning of!
You will have homemade and healthier options than cold cereal this way, and nothing is faster than these made-ahead options. Another way to speed up the breakfast process is to prepare DIY breakfast stations that kids can use to make their own fast and easy breakfast meal.
Menu Plan for the First Week
I personally love to have slow cooker meals ready for the first month of back-to-school days. If I can create a plan ahead of time – and maybe even freeze my slow cooker meals so they are ready to go – then I am golden. Whether you love the slow cooker or prefer to make quick meals in the moment, having a plan to keep things quick and easy for that first month is ideal. But if a month seems out of reach, get started now on that first week of school menu and think through what will make meal time a breeze.
Go Through the Old Clothes
Now is the time to weed out any clothes with holes, tears, rips, excess wear, and stains. If you like to keep these clothes for outdoor play, set them aside. Otherwise, get rid of them now to make room for new clothing. If you have multiple children, now is a great time to go through what each child has and pass down what doesn’t fit any more to the next child. You can even make this a fashion show where people are trying on and modeling old and new-to-them clothes!
Make a list of what each child needs for the new season, whether they will be attending school or homeschooling. What will they need to transition from summer to fall and fall to winter? I just recently took stock and realized that two of my children were wearing underwear that could not possibly fit. I think as moms, sometimes we forget to think about the unseen details.
Plan Your Budget
With back-to-school comes a significant number of expenses and it’s a good idea to be prepared for what you need to spend and be in agreement with your spouse. This will include school supplies, new clothing, possibly new tennis shoes, and new school books. If your child participates in a gym class or sports you might also need to budget for uniforms.
If you pack lunches, you will need to make sure you have room in the budget for lunchsack-friendly foods. In our family, we homeschool so we end up budgeting for the new curriculum we will need for the school year as well. Don’t forget haircuts! I don’t know about how this goes at your house, but our boys tend to like a more shabby look for summer and even our girls like to have a fresh new haircut for the school year.
One-on-One Back-to-School Jam Session with Each Child
Sometimes the transition back to school is rough for kids, and before school starts is a good time to spend a little one-on-one with each child. You can discuss academic and inter-personal goals for the child, talk about what you expect for the first day of school, and any concerns your child might have for the coming year. Again, because we homeschool our back-to-school jam session is a little different. I like to go over each subject and what I expect him/her to cover daily during that one-on-one as well. It sets the expectations up front for a happy first day back.
If your child will be getting sex education in a public setting this year, it’s a good time to cover that topic and have the talk from your perspective now too – kids need to hear it first from mom and dad. Make your jam session special and take each child out to lunch or breakfast for your one-on-one!
Transitioning Back to School
With a little bit of extra work now following these seven steps, you will be ready to transition back to school as quickly and easily as possible when the time comes.
BONUS: Three Extra Steps Homeschool Moms Might Need
Organize Your Bookshelves
It seems like my bookshelves go from organized to an absolute mess from one school year to the next. I need to take this time to get all the books back where they belong and add new ones to my book inventory. I have my books organized by shelf: history, science, social studies, history, bible, grammar, spelling – basically all the subjects. Plus a shelf for early readers, encyclopedias, biography, literature by grade, picture books, and more.
With seven tall bookshelves, it takes me a while to get everything back where it goes, but is totally worth it because it refreshes my memory of what we have, helps me find lost material, and gets everything into a spot where it can be found.
Plan Your Curriculum
I’m not ready to think about this yet, but it’s time to plan the homeschool year. Make a list of what you plan to use with each child during this school year and think about what pace you want to take. If you are new to homeschooling, you can usually find an idea of the intended pace in the teacher’s guide or in the introductory section of the book.
Make sure you have something planned for each major subject needed, and don’t forget those things covered randomly in public school – like state history in fourth grade, sex education (in what, third grade now?), and government in senior year. That’s not to say you have to cover those things, but just consider them as you make your plan and make decisions.
Create Daily/Weekly Checklists for Each Child
With a list of the planned curriculum in hand, we like to create a daily checklist for each child in a one-week format that can be used over and over for the school year. Although we typically re-evaluate a few weeks in to make sure everything is working and then again in January, so these aren’t set in stone.
Our schedules usually involve daily math, spelling, and grammar with writing, history, science, and electives alternating days. If you use a comprehensive curriculum like Sonlight with a complete daily schedule, you can skip this step. I don’t tend to use anything as-written!
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