Editor's Note: Genny Upton of the In Lieu of Preschool blog usually writes our Crafty Mom posts. Today Upton, a former fifth grade teacher and reading specialist, is sharing some back to school tips to make life this year a little bit easier.
1. Designate a place in your house for a “backpack station.” A hook for the backpack with a nearby basket for planners and folders to be put in would be ideal! Be sure to look through these daily, and then put them back into the backpack so that in the morning your child can simply grab and go!
2. A card or small gift for your teacher at the beginning of the year can help make a good impression. Something as simple as a few extra school supplies, a candy bar, a handcrafted note, or a $5 gift card to Target or Starbucks will put a smile on your teacher's face! If you’re really creative or are in charge of a class gift, a teacher supplies cake like the one pictured from The Outlaw Mom will certainly impress!
3. Organize your child's closet for success. Either lay out clothes the night before, or sort outfits into easily accessible drawers which make it fast and easy for your child to pick.
4. Use a chore chart so that (hopefully) you won't have to remind your kids every day of the things they need to do. Here are two examples: Lynda Loveland posted about one she created at home, or here’s a free customizable online one.
5. If your child has trouble getting ready in the mornings, make a visual list of what they need to do and put it somewhere they’ll see it! We like these free printable cards, and we let the kids mark what they’ve completed by moving a clothespin from card to card.
6. Get the contact info for your child's teacher(s) and keep it handy. After the first week, go ahead and send an email to say hi and introduce yourself. It's always good to ensure the first contact is positive, and this also ensures the teacher has your contact info!
7. Have a designated place at home for your child to do homework. Make sure it is well lit, free of distractions, and stocked with needed supplies so your child does not need to get up repeatedly to find things. If you’re short on space, consider making a portable homework station.
8. Dedicate a box to storing papers and artwork you want to save so you don’t end up with cluttered countertops. As soon as something comes home that you can’t bear to throw away, stick it in the box. Go through it at the end of the school year; move the pieces you still can’t part with to longer term storage or put on display. I love this space-saving idea for displaying lots of artwork in a single frame.
9. Create a family calendar if you don’t already have one. Put ALL school, family, work, and extracurricular events on it and make sure everyone’s calendars sync automatically! Google calendar is a free option.
10. If you pack your child’s lunch, here are a few sites I enjoy for inspiration when I run out of my own ideas: 100 Days of Real Food, Weelicious, BentOnBetterLunches, and the Easy Lunchboxes photo gallery. Pack a little note in your child’s lunchbox now and then to say hi, I love you, offer some encouragement, or share a joke. You could even write it on a napkin to save paper.
Genny is a former Wake County Public School System elementary and reading teacher, who is now a stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers in Cary. Read more on her blog In Lieu of Preschool and Facebook page. Find her here a couple of times a month.