11 Hands-On Back to School Tips for Parents in 2019

While the kids are hooting and hollering, enjoying the long summer days, parents everywhere are nervously nibbling their nails — knowing that Back-to-School is just around the corner. No doubt you’re whizzing around the internet, scrolling anxiously for back to school advice for parents!

Rather than let the anticipation overwhelm you, why not start getting prepared ahead of time. That way, you’ll only be fighting half the battle when the end of summer rolls around. If you’re looking for helpful back to school preparation tips, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a handy guide stuffed full of actionable tips for back to school.

Re-establish a Morning Routine for School

Rather than completely drop out of sync, why not start with success. While you can relax the schedule a little, encourage a morning routine throughout the summer. You can establish different weekend and weekday wake-up times than the regular morning routine for school, but try to keep the weekday/weekend pattern ingrained — be prepared to negotiate (either way depending on age!).

Once awake, encourage your kids to start the day by doing something healthy and productive for 30 minutes. Allow them to create a list of 10 things they can choose from each morning — inspiring them to feel excited about the choices. Prompt them to create a diverse selection, such as: 

  • Reading a book for pleasure
  • Researching a personal project
  • Doing something toward a personal project
  • Exercises, like yoga or aerobics
  • A walk around the block
  • Taking a long shower
  • Catching up with the news
  • Gardening
  • Walking the dog

Toward the end of the summer, you’ll find you need to tighten the morning routine to prepare your family for going back to school. It’s important to use these back to school routine tips to create active systems to coordinate all the members of your family harmoniously.

While it seems idyllic to have a pancake breakfast together with the family each morning, in reality, it’s more manageable when we break up the tasks.

Set up a Breakfast Station

One of the top hands-on back to school tips for breakfast time is to dedicate an area of your kitchen or cupboards to becoming a breakfast station. Here you can put the ingredients needed for breakfast time, along with instructions on how to make certain breakfast meals. 

Depending on your child’s age and ability, you’ll find you can introduce a variety of healthy breakfast options that are easy for kids to manage, such as:

  • Fruit salad
  • Granola and yoghurt
  • Fruit muesli
  • Smoothies
  • Cereal
  • Microwaveable porridge
  • Toast and jam

By having a dedicated breakfast station, it speeds up the breakfast process and allows a child to independently feed themselves in the morning. That way you can have one child having breakfast, while another is in the bathroom, and another dresses — it keeps the squabbles at bay!

Establish a Bathroom Timetable

We all know the struggles of getting your young son to wash in the morning. Conversely, many of us know what it’s like trying to get teenagers out of the bathroom in the morning!

Creating a bathroom timetable is one of the best back to school morning routine tips out there. You can make independently or incorporate it into your kids’ daily routine chart. Make sure everyone is allotted an appropriate amount of time depending on age and personal circumstances. Your teenage daughter may require more time, for example, than you 8-year old son! Maybe even employ an alarm system in your bathroom back to school routine, to signal for family members to switch!

Give everyone a bathroom caddy that they can use for their wash items. This stops the bathroom cluttering up and removes the chance for arguments about using each others’ things. It also allows you to keep an eye out for dry flannels!

Slide into a Bedtime Routine

Bedtimes often slip thanks to long summer nights. This can be a hurdle when it comes to suddenly re-establishing back to school bedtimes.

To reduce the shock impact the night before back to school routine kicks in, introduce the process gradually by shifting the evening routine. Serve dinner earlier to coax children in from play sooner. Alter evening activities to invoke a calmer and more studious atmosphere, such as reading or drawing. Put regular bathtimes back on the schedule and start winding down at the same time every day.

As you near the end of summer, back to school preparation is important to introduce into the evening routines. To ease pressure on busy mornings, preparing for back to school the night before is a real help. Try these ideas:

  • Pack lunch the night before
  • Lay out clothes for the next day
  • Empty school bag from the day before and repack
  • Prepare bookbag
  • Pack sports kits
  • Empty sports kit and put in the washing
  • Hang coat by the door
  • Put bags by the door or in designated ‘ready to go’ area
  • Set up the breakfast station

Introduce Regular Exercise

The summer is a time for all-night sleepovers, late-night snacking, sticks of rock, sugary ice-lollies, computer games, and long nights playing out. While this is all fun and games at the time, the explosive cocktail of sugar, late nights, and too much excitement turn your child into a fizzing ball of energy.

It’s important that we don’t quash this energy as our children move into the new school year. Instead, steer it in a positive direction. 

To burn off surplus energy and use up that extra sugar, you can introduce an exercise routine. Joining in with the children will help you to get healthy, while also setting an example. Why not try:

  • Online yoga videos
  • Walking the dog
  • Going to the park
  • Round Robin of exercises in the garden
  • Body-weight exercises
  • Download a fitness app and follow it together

Organise Your Own Schedule

The ‘Back to School’ time of year also gives you a milestone to set goals and get organised. It’s advisable to set aside some time for you to consider what you’d like to achieve this school year and what needs to be managed. This will help you to more clearly define a back to school preparation action plan for yourself.

Do you need to organise after-school care while you work? Do you need to arrange transport for extra-curricular activities? Have you bought school supplies or set aside time to go shopping? Do you have what you need for work? Have you set aside time for playdates? Do you need to hire a cleaner to help during term-time? Have you scheduled time for self-care or time without the children?

Getting your schedule organised over the summer means that when term time starts again, you can focus on making sure the children are prepared — knowing you’re on track.

Get Diet Back on Track

We are what we eat. This is one of the oldest phrases in history because the nutrients we put in our bodies through our food affect the capacity of our bodies and minds to work to their premium level.

Fatty barbecues and sugary fairground snacks make for an enjoyable summer, but these less healthy diets don’t prime our brains for learning. As the summer comes to a close, try to reconfigure your family’s diet. 

To equip the brain and body for learning, we need sustainable energy levels that don’t spike and taper off. While sugary snacks and processed food boost your energy quickly with lots of sugar, healthy wholefood diets keep you fuller for longer with more revitalizing nutrients. To prepare for back to school, try shaping your diet to include:

  • Bigger portions of fruits and vegetables
  • Wholegrain carbohydrates — they take longer to breakdown and keep you fuller for longer
  • Switch from processed fats to natural fats – use olive oil, real butter, and coconut oil over margarine and vegetable oil
  • Cut out sugar by replacing it with raw honey
  • Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel – These fish have high levels of Omega-3 Fatty acids, which increase brain activity

Discuss the First Day Back

Open space for conversation — this is one of the most poignant back to school tips for kids with anxiety or who are starting a new school. Going back to a new school year can be a scary experience. As adults, we often forget how long Summer can be, and children fear their friendship dynamics may change over that time. Equally, the idea of taking on harder work may feel like a burden to some children.

Speak and listen honestly and openly with them about the first day back and the coming term. You don’t need to spring this on them right before they head back — make it an ongoing topic of discussion over the summer. 

If your child is nervous about friendships, you could always organise playdates to reestablish those social connections. It may be worth asking the school for a copy of the class list so you can contact parents ahead of time and ensure your children spend time together during the holidays to ease the transition back to school.

Equally, as a parent, inviting our children to reframe issues can help them to overcome them. Reframe anxiety into excitement by discussing the more enjoyable events — such as giving friends holiday souvenirs or learning new subjects.

Additionally, you can make it into a fun game. Ask them to visualise and verbally describe the best and worst day they can imagine. You can follow this up with the creative task of thinking of the weirdest first day back, or the spookiest, or craziest, or loudest, or most colourful. Try to find solutions for how they would deal with each. By making the task fun and a little nonsensical, you take the pressure away from it and help them to work out solutions to overcome any bizarre scenario – boosting their confidence.

Bring the Summer to a Close with a Bang

The end of summer is a time to wind down and refocus our children’s energy and thoughts toward the return to routine learning. Most back to school tips for parents implore calming your child down with less hyped up activities.

That said, with nothing to look forward to, it can be difficult to motivate a child to prepare for back to school. It might be advisable to shut down the summer with a milestone finale to signify the closing of this episode. Simultaneously, it gives your children something to look forward to at the end of summer — rather than becoming increasingly temperamental as D-Day draws closer.

Whether it be a trip to a local theme park, a day out rowing on the local lake or a cinema visit, try to let the children pick something they’d enjoy rather than deciding for them. Treat the experience as a reward for them, to thank them for a great Summer together.

This also gives them something to talk about when they head back — enhancing the anticipation of seeing friends again. It can also serve as a source of inspiration in their school work.

Restart Family Meetings

Family meetings can be a great tool to increase diplomacy in your household and to provide the space for your family to discuss achievements and difficulties. To stay as a solutions-focused forum rather than an emotional trial, try to orient family meetings toward setting goals, discussing progress, and devising next steps together as a team.

In preparation for back to school, introduce regular family meetings back into the schedule. These can coordinate with mealtimes if necessary, or can be held as a fun family activity one evening.

For the first session, use the Summer as inspiration. Ask your children for feedback on their Summer: what did they enjoy/learn/improve upon/embrace/overcome/etc this Summer?

Considering the previous year, discuss their goals for the future and try to nail down a handful of specific goals for the year. You can do this for each child and also for the family as a whole. From this, you can devise steps together on how you’re going to reach each target.

Set Up a Family Calendar

The first family meeting is also a great opportunity to establish a calendar. This can be a physical calendar or could work as a synchronized application, such as Google Calendar. Assign colour-coded timetables to each family member and for joint activities. That way everyone is on the same page regarding homework schedules, morning and bedtime routines, extra-curricular activities, weekend activities, date nights,  childcare etc. More importantly, a calendar allows you to set up a time management system your family can follow for the coming year.

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Brainstorm the Year

A brainstorm session can help you everyone hash out their ideas for the coming year as a family.  From extra-curricular activities to family days out, from home improvement projects to family holidays, brainstorming gets everyone’s ideas out while practising negotiation and communication skills.

Get in the Reading Rhythm

You may have found that your reading routine has become a little slack. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get your child back into a stricter rhythm so that their brains refamiliarise themselves with learning information in this way.

Try to create a reading routine for more sustainable success. Perhaps you read at bedtime together or you discuss a newspaper article over breakfast. Alternatively, why not introduce a reading marathon with a star chart or start a book club before the end of summer. This would also help to re-socialise your child with their classmates while learning together.

Set Up a Homework Station

To create higher levels of focus, it is best to separate the idea of homework and play in your child’s mind. A homework station achieves this by actively setting aside an exclusive place for study.

For a homework station to be successful, your child needs to have everything at hand. Ensure all supplies are within reach — it may be worth having a separate set of pens for leisure and homework, for example. 

Homework stations need to be free from distractions, but personal. While it’s not ideal to have toys in a homework station, a blank desk can suck stimulation from a child. Instead, decorate your child’s homework station together with useful resources, such as times tables sheets or maps. You can theme these depending on your child’s taste so they feel included and the space feels personal and welcoming.

If you’re struggling for room, why not consider a portable or hideaway homework station? Why not pop a desk in a wardrobe, and shelve the back of the wardrobe for storing supplies? Alternatively, if you need to use the dining or kitchen table, have your child store their supplies in a caddy they can put away under their bed. You could even have a fold-up table that goes away with the caddy too!

Set Rules About Screen Time

Technology is encroaching on our lives in all kinds of ways — especially when it comes to children. From video games to social media apps, it feels like kids these days are glued to their devices.

Scientific research is coming to the consensus that blue light — which is emitted in large doses from our devices — can harm sleep patterns. As blue light is naturally the most strong in the morning, it tells your body to wake up. In the evening, the decrease of blue light triggers the production of melatonin in our body — signalling our brains to sleep. If your children are using technology late into the evening, they’re going to have difficulty sleeping.

Equally, the overly stimulating content of what exists on the internet only serves to enliven our kids’ brains more!

Limit screen time by imposing strict rules. Cutback screen time significantly 2-3 hours before bed. Instead, replace it with a soothing activity which is easy on the brain, like reading, bathtime, listening to an audiobook and so on.

To Sum Up…

Going back to school doesn’t need to be a struggle, as long as you have these back to school tips under your belt! 

The best back to school advice for parents it to remember that winners use systems, so develop winning systems so you don’t have to micromanage every facet. The art of slick integration into the new term and hassle-free management throughout the year is to develop robust and easy-to-follow systems for your family — so everything gets done automatically!

So get that kids daily routine chart up. Hang those schoolbag hooks by the door. Setup that synchronised family calendar app.  The quicker you get your systems in place, the smoother the back to school transition will be!

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