Back to School the Easy Way
It is that time of year again where we look to the next stretch of books, homework and field trips. The first day of school signals the end of unsupervised kids, or endless camps, and the return to the structure that school brings. If back to school for you means a change in schools, the anticipation and preparation can be extra important. Both parents and kids get hung-up on shopping for the perfect accessories - the wild pencils, folders and backpacks with the appropriately hip characters on them – everything so that when they get there on that first day, everything is ready to go. The year is all downhill from there.
Except it isn’t really, is it? There will be approximately 180 days to get through after that, and planning for a successful (read: less stressful) school year involves a bit more preparation than the traditional paper, folders and pens. No matter if your child is entering Kindergarten for the first time, or close to graduating high school, each year brings its own challenges. Preparing with the right supplies and equipment to make the school year a smooth one is the best ‘school supply’ you will never see on one of those lists.
Organization and preparation starts right off with how you carry your items to school. No matter if you ride a bus, walk, or get there by car, you will be needing a backpack. Some backpacks look cool, but consider that this is something you will be carrying, kicking, scooting, dropping and getting dirty for almost two hundred days. That’s a lot of abuse! As you go up in grades, you also have to consider the amount of papers, book and folders you will be required to carry.
According to KidsHealth, kids should carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight. That doesn’t always work out though, and having a sturdy, padded backpack like this one from High Sierra (see below) that is durable enough for multiple years of use helps to alleviate potential problems. The last thing you want to try and find in after-Christmas sale madness is a new backpack because a strap broke or there is a hole forming in the bottom!
If walking home after school activities or when it’s dark is a concern, consider the safety features included in a backpack like the Urban Crew Laptop Backpack (see below). You will feel better sending them out the door when you can be sure all those supplies will get there, too.
URBAN CREW LAPTOP BACKPACK COLOR: BLACK/GREEN
School itself isn’t the only place you have to worry about being prepared. Homework starts in Kindergarten now, so making sure you have a comfortable environment setup for studying and doing paperwork is important right from the start. A comfortable workspace or desk, chairs and good lighting are essential. Reading in dim light will cause temporary eyestrain which can lead to headaches, dry eyes and other annoyances. Make sure your room has enough light to study and do homework with a lamp like this Lumiram full spectrum desk lamp. Full spectrum lighting will also help during the winter months to help keep you from falling prey to the seasonal blues.
Keeping track of your supplies is a must, as well. There is no joy in spending a hectic morning searching for folders, shoes, school notices, library books, sports gear, musical instruments or anything else your child suddenly has no idea where it is! Most professional organizers recommend setting up a specific spot to keep these items so that you can develop a routine of putting things in a specific place. Know where it is and there is no hassle! There is no one ‘right’ way to do this. You can have bins for kids to put their items in after school like shoes and sports gear. Their own hanger on the wall for their book bag, jacket and other accessories can help form good habits. Families might want a spot for everyone to put their items by the door or in the mudroom, like an organizational center with drawers or a chalkboard.
You don’t have to spend a lot, or take a lot of time to setup complex routines. Identify your main frustration with time wasted during the school year and make a plan to address it. It won’t happen on day 1, but with repetition, this can be a smooth and less-stressful school year for the whole family.