As summer winds down to a close, it’s time to prepare our families for a healthy start to the new school year! Are your children nervous about going back to school? Do you worry that they aren’t prepared, or have fallen prey to the dreaded “summer slide”? Do you feel like you have a lot to get organized before the school year starts? Don’t worry - we’ve compiled a list of our best tips and tricks for making the most of the final weeks of summer!
Set aside time each day for your child to spend reading (or you reading to them). Children should read at least 15-20 minutes every single day. Choose books that are age-appropriate, and have your child read one or two books daily. Reading doesn’t have to be limited to books, either. Children can read magazines, newspapers, articles online, cereal boxes, labels at grocery stores, and more! Reading exposes children to new words and helps them build a strong vocabulary. Even children that are only old enough to be read to can still benefit greatly! Even better - have an older sibling practice reading to your baby!
- Have fun while doing educational activities.
Children don’t want to spend precious summer vacation hours doing traditional learning activities such as flash cards and math problems. Learning doesn’t have to be boring! Take your children to visit a local museum or zoo. Attend library story times. Play math and science games outside by counting rocks or flowers, or creating a scavenger hunt. Go on daily walks and discuss the things you see. Play board games together. Buy some markers, paint, and glue, and let your child explore with mixing colors or textures. There are so many ways to make learning fun!
- Make a family calendar.
Summer is usually a relaxing time when schedules go out the window. However, during the school year, it is important to stay organized. Creating a family calendar can help you (and your children) keep track of important activities, appointments, deadlines, and play dates. A family calendar can be an app on your phone, a paper calendar, or a dry-erase board on the wall. Placing a family calendar where your children can clearly see it can help them visualize how their week will go!
- Get those sleep schedules back on track.
Kids usually stay up late and sleep in during the summer. Help your children adjust to going back to school by resetting their sleep schedules to “school hours.” Try putting them to bed 10-20 minutes earlier for the final weeks of summer, and make sure they wake at a reasonable time in the morning. You can even bribe them out of bed with a special breakfast or morning activity! If children have a few weeks to adjust back to a typical school year sleep schedule, it won’t be such a rude awakening during the first week of school!
- Go school supply shopping.
School supply shopping doesn’t have to be stressful, thanks to online ordering! Many stores have phone apps you can order from, and arrange for easy in-store pickup. Stores like Target even have special parking spots designated for order pick up - meaning you don’t even have to drag the kids out of the car! Ordering ahead of time can help you price compare and stay organized.
- Set boundaries with technology.
Do your children play video games or watch movies all summer? Be sure to discuss limits on screen time with your children before the school year starts. Be clear about boundaries and time limits. Will they only be allowed to play video games on the weekends? Do they have to earn their tablet time by reading for a certain amount of time? Are they allowed to have a cell phone nearby while they do homework? Set limits and stick to them.
- Let your children choose one or two after school activities, within reason.
Don’t overschedule your children, but allow them to choose a few extracurricular activities. Let them choose a sport, a musical instrument, an art class, a church youth group, or other activities to do after school. Check that your children’s activities don’t conflict with one another, or arrange carpooling so every activity works in your schedule. Be sure to write down who needs to be where on your family calendar. Letting your children choose some special activities to do outside of school can get them more excited about the new school year!
However you choose to spend your final weeks of summer, be sure to make the most of it. Enjoy your time with your kids, take time to get everyone organized, and set your children up for a wonderful start to the new school year.