Taking Advantage of Learning Opportunities BEFORE School Starts

 Taking Advantage of Learning Opportunities BEFORE School Starts

School is fast approaching!  Yikes!  Are you ready?  Did your children study enough over the summer so they are up to speed on Day 1?  Did they go to a STEM camp?  Practice their math facts?  Take summer school to "get ahead?” Do their summer reading?  What ever happened to "summer fun" anyway? 

If you're reading this you already understand that we, as parents, are trying to wrestle a bit of life out of the academics battlefield.  Instead of giving in to the academics urge, I wanted to give you some tips on how to merge the two important concepts — teaching life skills while staying on pace with academics. But remember: stay calm, and approach the craziness with ease.

Tip 1 - School Supplies 

Give your kids a budget! 

Let them shop the aisles; all you need to do is the driving.

When my kids had no budget, they shopped for expensive binders and accessories.  When I gave them a budget and told them they could keep what they didn't use, all of a sudden they were willing to reuse last year's stuff.  Amazing!  You know the really cool thing?  I still spent less even when I let them keep some of their budget. It’s all about incentive and responsibility. This takes a lot of stress off your shoulders when you hold your kids accountable.

Tip 2 - School Clothes

Again: give your kids a budget!

Younger kids: have them try on the clothes.  Sit down with your child and plan a list of things they need — shorts? pants? shirts? hair ties? coat? sweatshirt? Then go shopping. If you’re both walking into your shopping experience with a budget and an agenda, there’s a smaller chance your kid will be grabbing everything from the shelves.   

Middle/High School: drop them off at the mall, and have them put clothes on hold until the end of the day.  When you pick them up, plan time to go back to the stores to purchase the clothes.  They can keep track of what they have on hold and decide later which things they really want to buy.  These older kids should plan what they need before they go, but be sure to gently ask.

Tip 3 - Homework

Younger kids (preschool/elementary): these kids can plan and complete their homework assignments on their own.  LET THEM!  If things are hard and they need help, let them know you are there to help. You are not there to DO the homework.  

Older kids: Let them plan their homework schedule - when and where they do it.  Before or after snack?  Before or after dinner?  With music on or off? Let their teachers be their judge of quality, not you, unless the teacher specifically asks you to do this.

Homework may not start up until the second week of school, but it’s still coming and will hit hard. Other than chores or rules you have for your kids, homework is the first “real world” responsibility that your kids will encounter. This sets the precedent for how they’ll deal with responsibilities in the future (this is also where a lot of procrastinators are born). So look out for your kids’ futures and encourage productive study habits!

Tip 4 – Lunchtime

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, make lunchtime sound like a fun adventure. Take your kids grocery shopping, show them food videos, have a special cooking night — show them that it can be a good time.

Have your kids pick out fun, exciting lunch boxes. If your kids are older, let them take a paper bag if they want to. It doesn't matter what they use; what matters is that THEY plan what they are eating and that they remember to pack it and put it in their backpack.

Organize yourself now to eliminate stress later. If you have more time now before school starts up, organize your fridge with different compartments: lunch meats, fruits and veggies, snacks, treats.

Encourage your kids before the first day to make their own lunches. Yes, even a 5 year old should be able to make a PB&J or a ham sandwich.

School and academics certainly seem to be winning the battle but you can make a dent if you start using the start of the school year as an opportunity to teach life lessons, instead of the academic lessons we’re always used to teaching our kids.  

Enjoy the school year!

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