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In my house, today starts the two-week countdown to the return of backpacks, the daily onslaught of school papers, fall sports practices, and the incessant preparation of PB&J sandwiches. Back-to-school time is a bummer in some households, a celebration in other households, and a significant time of transition in ALL households with school-aged children.
As is the case with most things in life, a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition from the carefree days of summer to the busy days of fall. In that vein, I’d like to share some tried-and-true organizing strategies to put in place in your household, in order to start off on the right foot for the coming school year:
1. Begin by determining what the daily schedule will look like for your household once school starts and fall arrives. Be sure to include bus schedules, before/after-care schedules, sports/activity schedules and work schedules. Put it all down on paper to have a clear idea of how the master schedule looks.
2. Use one centralized family calendar (either paper or digital) to keep track of daily schedules. Color code calendar entries to correspond to individual family members’ activities and/or to separate work vs. home-related events.
3. Establish a family communication center to use in conjunction with the family calendar. This can take the form of a bulletin board or a 3-ring binder. Keep school calendars, lunch menus, carpool schedules, etc. in this one centralized location for easy reference.
4. Conduct a family meeting in order to review the new schedule, and to discuss expectations for the upcoming school year. This is also a great time to iron out details regarding morning routines (what time will they need to wake up? what are they responsible for packing in the backpack each day?), homework routines (will they be expected to complete it when they get home or right after dinner?), and school lunch routines (how often will they buy vs. pack?) Be sure to include your kids in the discussion, which will increase their buy-in and cooperation with the plan.
In Part II of this series, we will offer additional steps to prepare for the transition from Summer Vacation Mode to Back-to-School Mode.
What steps do you take in your household to prepare for the upcoming school year? Share in the Comments section below!