Saturday, July 23, 2022

40 Back to School Tips

School will be starting soon for kids all over the country.  In our area, school starts at the beginning of August, in most other areas, school starts at the beginning of September.  Here are some tips to start your kids off on the right foot this school year:

  1. Register your kids for school (some schools require this each year, others don't require parents to do anything if their kids will attend the same school as last year).
  2. Sign your kids up for free or reduced-price school lunches if the qualify (also check to see if your school district plans to provide free lunches to all students as many schools are doing this year).
  3. If you plan to make your kids' lunches each day (a healthy alternative), buy them appropriate zero-waste supplies for this including an insulated lunch container, a reusable water bottle, a reusable sandwich/snack container, etc.
  4. Sign into the parent portal of your school district's website (this will give you access to your student's grades, allow you to contact their teachers, receive messages from the district, etc).
  5. Take your kids to any events or orientations their school hosts before school starts (these events usually let kids meet their teachers, see their new classrooms, etc).
  6. Also sign your kids up for after school sports and activities (busy kids are kids who don't have time to get in trouble when they have too much free time and not enough supervision.  Also participation in sports is great for their health, fitness, and psychological development.
  7. Decide how your kids will get to school each day.  Will you drive them?  Will they ride the bus?  Check the school's website for bus schedules.  Will they walk or ride a bike?  Walk or ride with them to school to "practice" before school starts.
  8. Determine if your kids will have a babysitter, go to daycare, or participate in school-sponsored before and after care programs and set these up in advance.  Also set up emergency care providers in case their primary caregiver is not available.
  9. Buy school supplies on sale as they come available (many sales are happening now at Walmart/Target/etc).  Be sure to buy extra supplies so you can give them new supplies when school starts and after winter break for their second semester.
  10. Buy clothes and shoes for your kids first at thrift stores, then at discount stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, Walmart, and Target, then finish up at the mall.  This is a great way to save money over buying everything for full price at the mall.
  11. Get your kids backpacks that are high quality so they will last all school year.  Backpacks should make it easier to carry all of their books and supplies but not be so big that they are over-filled and over-heavy.
  12. Duct tape an "emergency packet" in the bottom of your kid's backpack which isn't to be open unless it's an actual emergency.  Include a $20 bill, maybe a spare house key, and a printed list of emergency contact info. 
  13. Review your child's backpack to make sure they have all of the school supplies they need (many schools provide a checklist for this), have a place to put their assignments and homework, have the books and tech items they need, have some extra snacks like a granola bar, and most importantly, don't include things that are banned (toy guns, pocket knives, and for many schools, anything containing peanuts).
  14. Make sure your kid's vaccines are up-to-date (many health districts offer these for free) and that they get in for sports physicals before school starts (it can take weeks to get an appointment in some areas).
  15. Get your kids age-appropriate and needs-appropriate technology (cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc).  Buying used/open box is a good way to save money on these items and some school districts will even provide some of these items for free.  Also be sure to adequately supervise their use of these devices.
  16. Be sure that your kids have "non tech" time everyday when they can decompress from tech and social media by playing outside, doing art of music projects, playing board games, reading a book, etc.
  17. Before school starts, get your kids up to speed by having them read, do some math, answer quiz questions, etc. so they will get back into the swing of learning before school starts.
  18. A week or so before school starts, have your kids go to sleep at the time they will need to do so when school starts and wake up at the time they will need to get up when school starts so they won't be half asleep during the first week of school.
  19. Come up with a secret family password that both kids and parents know.  This way, if someone tells your kids you sent them to pick them up at school, your kid can ask for the password to know you really sent them.
  20. Have your kids memorize their basic information (name, address, phone number, parent's names and phone numbers, etc) even if they have this info on their cell phone.
  21. If your family is experiencing any problems that can impact your child, see what options your school has to help you.  Many schools have homeless student programs, food programs that supply kids in need with food to take home to cover them on weekends, IEP/special ed programs, extra safety for kids when their parents are in the midst of a contentious divorce, etc.
  22. Find out what your kid's school's emergency plan is for inclement weather, active shooters, etc.
  23. Talk with your kid--and the school if needed--to address their concerns about bullying, social media pressure, psych problems, active shooters, etc.
  24. If your child has a medical problem, meet with their teacher, school administrator, school nurse, etc. to explain the problem and tell them how your child will address their issue (ie: kids who require medication may need to have the nurse dispense it to them, kids with severe allergies should make the school aware of this, kids who require emergent care like an asthma inhaler or EpiPen, etc should carry these life-saving items with them and not need to go find them at the nurse's office in the middle of an emergency).
  25. Make a place in your home for your kids to get their homework and school projects done and set up a regular routine for this.
  26. Teach your kids how to organize their day, use a calendar and checklist to make sure all of their work gets done, and plan their social activities as well.
  27. Have a calendar in your home to write down activities, no school dates, early release dates, field trips, etc.  Also have a place for your kids to put their homework for you to check, permission slips to be signed, and other info their teacher provides them.
  28. Stay in regular contact with your kid's teachers so problems can be addressed as quickly as possible rather than, for example, learning your child is failing a class when the class is almost finished.
  29. Put together a Child Safety Kit for each of your children at the beginning of each school year.
  30. Keep your kid's (and your) important documents in a safe in your home as well as backed up digitally.  This included birth certificates, social security cards, passports, adoption records, vaccination records, etc.
  31. Teach your kids basic prepper skills.  This includes op sec (don't tell anyone about the family's preps or gun collection), don't talk to the police without a parent other than identifying yourself, the "run, hide, fight" response to a dangerous situation, what to do if they find a gun, what to do if their friends are in a dangerous home situation, and hundreds of other skills.
  32. Devise a morning routine, evening routine, homework routine, chores/allowance routine, sports/music practice routine, weekend family activity routine, etc.
  33. Do the things that lead to student success--serve a healthy breakfast, talk to your kids daily to find out how they are doing, ask about school/friends/activities/teachers/etc.
  34. Talk about things that may be uncomfortable but necessary--mental health issues, age-appropriate sex ed, "stranger danger", avoiding sexual assault, dangers of drugs/alcohol/drinking and driving, how to respond to bullying and violence, etc.
  35. Teach your kids manners, morals, and values which will make them productive, resilient, responsible human beings.
  36. Encourage your child to seek assistance with school issues: ask the teacher for extra help if they don't understand a topic, join a study group, find a tutor if necessary, learn to take better notes, participate in class, how and with whom to seek help if they have a problem with their teacher, etc.
  37. If you are sending your kid off for their first year of college, consider these, these, and these tips.
  38. Check out things your student may be entitled to like a free national park pass, student freebies and deals, and birthday freebies.
  39. Don't depend on the school to teach your kid everything they need to know.  Ensure your kid develops good reading skills, use math with them regularly (like when baking something or building something together), teach them to safely use a gun, how to swim and ride a bike, how to grow their own food even if it is one tomato plant, etc.
  40. Finally, determine the best education situation for your child.  This might mean the attending the neighborhood school, going to a magnet school, attending private school, or even home schooling.

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