Whether summer flew by and you can’t believe it’s already back-to-school time, or the last couple months felt like an eternity as you balanced kids on summer break with all of your other commitments, one thing is for sure: there’s no time like the present to prepare yourself, your home and your kids for a successful school year ahead. Back-to-school preparation can mean all sorts of different things – from shopping for school supplies and new clothes, to fitting in that last vacation or summer activity… but have you set aside time to prepare for the school year ahead? After all, it’s not just teachers who need to get their classroom set up for school to start, you can also get your own home in order to help transition from summer-mode into school-mode. Here’s are 5 ways to do so: (1)

  1. Get the Routine Down: and let your kids in on the planning. Have “the talk” about what a school day morning should look like together. It can include what time you wake up, who picks out the clothes, if the backpack is already packed (and where it should be placed the night before), etc.

    o Extra Credit: here are 3 tried-and-true tactics that have worked in other families: 1. choose an outfit the night before and ensure your kid gets dressed before leaving the room, 2. eat a healthy breakfast every day, and 3. follow the same routine consistently (in other words, take the guess work out of how to get ready for school – the routine can soon become automatic) (2)

  2. Don’t Forget About the After-School Routine Too: after a long day of school, kids need to have time to unwind before getting back down to business. Give them this opportunity to change out of their school clothes and enjoy some well-earned fun time outside of school.

    o Extra Credit: for getting them outside and active. Remember, it’s suggested that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Consider signing up for extracurricular activities or simply set up neighborhood play dates to encourage physical activity and fun.

  3. Set Up the Productivity Station: this workstation or homework area should be free of distractions and quiet, well lit and contain all the supplies your child will need. It can be in the bedroom, at the dining room table, in a parent’s office space – anywhere he or she can focus on their work.

    o Extra Credit: for creativity! Consider making up a fun name for this space that can turn into your “inside joke” with your kid. From “brain power station” to “smarting hard” to something more abstract like “unicorn learning center” or “superhero brains” … make it fun. You can even add some fun notes or motivational gifts for big assignments later in the year (even something as simple as a unicorn pencil or superhero eraser can keep it inviting and engaging).

  4. Back-to-School Shopping: families with children in elementary school through high school spent a total of $27.5 billion on back-to-school clothing, electronics and school supplies last year (an average of $684.79 per family). (3) That’s no small chunk of change.

    o Extra Credit: for preparation! Prepare for this shopping extravaganza by having a list together before hitting the store. Retailers know this is an expensive time of year and have advertising campaigns out in full force. By nailing down what is needed for each kid, you will stay on track and keep your spending in check. Not sure where to start? Online checklists can help you narrow down your back-to-school shopping list and ensure you have it all covered for the year ahead.

  5. Encourage Good Habits: school doesn’t start and stop on school grounds – it should be continued at home and throughout life. As the quote goes, “Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.” This is as much true with adults as it is with children, and it’s the parents that can encourage continuous learning habits early on.

    o Extra Credit: for finding what works best for your family and situation. You may consider setting up a cozy reading nook or corner tent where your kid can enjoy reading. Or set up a bookcase – fully stocked with books they can pick out on their own (maybe a book fairy drops off some new ones every now and then for good behavior). The key is to keep your kid curious and engaged – and show him or her that it’s fun!

Don’t let back-to-school season pass you by. Now is your opportunity to get your home and your family set up for a successful year ahead, and beyond. By putting in the work now, it can save both time and energy down the road. Plus, it can be a fun and engaging exercise to work with your kid to prepare together.

Speaking of planning for what’s to come, have you begun planning for your child’s future? Just as important as setting up good study habits for the upcoming school year, it’s also critical to lay the foundation for what’s ahead – starting a college savings plan now will allow you to set aside funds for your child’s college education that grow tax free over the years. So as your preparing your morning routine now, you can feel confident these healthy habits will help lay the groundwork for his or her education journey for years to come.

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(1) https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/prepare-for-the-school-year/
(2) https://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/good-student-habits/
(3) https://www.inc.com/peter-roesler/nrf-survey-suggests-near-record-back-to-school-spending-in-2018.html