Back-to-School season is here! Are you just starting to stock up on school supplies? Or are you already back in the school groove?
We still have three weeks left, and although we’re determined to enjoy every last second of summer, the time has come to do a bit of back-to-school preparation.
Here’s our official BTS Blueprint! (Organized from A to Z, of course!)
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A is for apples, and other brain-friendly lunches and snacks. I’ve been pinning some of my favorites to my Food and Back-to-School Pinterest boards. Turn snack prep into a fun family literacy activity by having the kids help read the recipes and help you cook.
C: Clean out the backpacks, lunchboxes and coats. Mine are taking a trip through the washing machine as we speak! Usually I forget until the day before school starts, so yay! Oh, and speaking of laundry, this little visual aid from Caravan Shoppe will be helpful as I introduce my sons to their new laundry job for the school year. Ooh, maybe they could make a few more infographics for other other household chores.
D: Drawer Dump: Dump the contents of kids’ clothing drawers and evaluate what fits, what gets worn, and what needs to go. Mornings are easier if kids can find their clothes! I give my kids a piece of paper to list any school clothes, outerwear or sports gear that should be purchased before school starts. If you want to get really organized, you could make some drawer labels like these or these.
E: Excited, not stressed. After I watched this TED Talk by Dr. Kelly McGonigal, I’ve been talking with my boys about reframing the way we look at stress. Perfect for back-to-school, and something I would love for them to internalize at a young age!
G: Set some goals for the upcoming year. Here’s a free printable to help!
H: Home literacy! Make a plan for the year. What will your daily routines look like? How can you squeeze in a few regularly-scheduled family literacy activities? It doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming, but if you plan it now, you’ll be more likely to start the busy school year with literacy routines incorporated into the mix.
I: Investigate! Figure out how something works or learn about something fascinating together. Remind kids that their job at school is to treat every day as a new investigation. They should be actively searching for new learning opportunities and not just going through the motions.
J: Jot down a list of books you’d like to read during the school year. Here are a few ideas.
K: Keep track of the back-to-school fun with a simple keepsake that you and your child can complete together. School Years: A Family Keepsake of School Memories, is a handy book with a fill-in-the-blank format to record important memories and mementos from each school year. It takes only a few minutes to do the pages for each year, and by the time your child graduates from high school, the book will be packed full of memories.
L is for learning styles. This is the perfect time of year to help your child learn about himself as a learner. I love the learning style resources from Kidzmet because you can get a detailed guide to your child’s brain. We don’t all learn the same way and it’s super important to help kids, (and the grown-ups who work with them), know how to work their brains so they understand their strengths and weaknesses, and so everyone is better able to work smarter, not harder this year.
M is for mail-order learning enrichment. Have you tried Kiwi Crate yet? Their craft kits are cool, but I’m over the moon about those science kits! They’re perfect weekend or after school activities for curious kids.
N: Notes for everyone! Lunchbox notes are a great way to ease back-to-school jitters, we all need these to keep us on track during those crazy first mornings, and the teachers definitely deserve a quick note of thanks after that busy first week of school.
O: Organize your homework space. I’ve been admiring this cool New School Desk from Land of Nod, but really, any clean and comfortable desk or table in a distraction-free zone is fine for homework time. Round up a small container of supplies. (Sharp pencils, erasers, crayons, a ruler, sticky notes, a glue stick, and scissors.) This year we’ve added these noise reducing headphones to cut distractions, (also helpful for drum practice), and a visual timer to keep everyone focused on the task at hand.
P: Before school paperwork. (A pain!) I made it a little better by completing my three sets of back-to-school paperwork while lounging in the sun this year.
Q: Questions: Asking and answering questions is great oral language practice for kids, and they need to be proficient at justifying their answers with clear reasons, details and facts. Family dinners or drive time are the perfect time to discuss. You can prepare to practice this skill all year long by downloading these Family Conversation Cards from Childhood 101, or by making up a set of your own.
R: Read! We adore The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn. Chester holds a kiss from his mom in the palm of his hand as he heads off to school, which is a nice reminder for kids that their parents will be thinking of them, and will see them soon. If You Take a Mouse to School, by Laura Numeroff, is a great preview of a typical school day for any elementary aged student. For the newbies, Kindergarten Rocks, by Katie Davis, is a great read about Dexter Dugan, who “is an eensy teensy beensy bit scared” to start kindergarten. And for the big kids, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio is a wonderful story about friendship, empathy and celebrating differences.
S: School supplies! I seriously love school supplies. We spent over an hour at Target last week tackling this fun task. I’m happy to report, 2/3 of my boys can now handle their own lists fairly independently, but it still took a while and I was kind of wishing I’d just gone by myself at about 10:00 pm. (We rewarded ourselves for a job well done by hitting the Starbucks counter on the way out. I know I deserved it!)
T: Take a test. Just kidding! Plenty of time for that during the school year.
U: Understand the curriculum your school uses, and think about what you can do to help at home. If it’s Common Core, this little guide is full of fun literacy activities for the whole family that relate to the Common Core State Standards.
V: Designate a blank notebook as your family vocabulary journal. Challenge your family to find a new and interesting word every day during the school year. Try to fill the notebook pages with words, pictures and short, kid-friendly definitions.
W: Wrap up the summer with a little celebration. Here’s one summer wrap-up idea from my old blog, Small Types.
X: X out some eXtra activities to give the kiddos more time to just play after school this year. Here’s why.
Y: Yeah. I can’t think of anything for Y. Totally drawing a blank! Any suggestions?
Z: Get some Zzzzz’s! Rest up! This is easier said than done, but I know it’s wise to TRY to ease back to our normal bedtime routine the week before school starts. Back-to-school stress is much more manageable when you’re well rested.
Yay for school! Have a great start!