If August has arrived, then the start of the school year cannot be far behind. By starting to prep for those first weeks back in the classroom now, the big day may not seem like such a surprise come this month’s end. But where to begin? The most common mistake in prepping for the return to learn is forgetting that it does involve more than a trip down the school supply aisle.
There are four main areas to focus on when prepping your home for Back to School, all of which can be shared with your students by assigning age-appropriate tasks. Think clothing, study space, nutrition, and the drop-zone.
To prevent an early morning first-day-of-school panic over pants that no longer fit or shirts that are no longer classified as cool, dedicate a few hours to going through your younger children’s closets to determine what still fits and what will still make the cut. For older children, the project is the same with the likely addition of a reorganization. Task your teens with refolding and grouping jeans together, moving short sleeve shirts to a common drawer, and creating a pile of garments they no longer wish to wear.
Work together to create a shopping list for wardrobe additions and determine if each would fall into a “purchase now” or “purchase later” category, such as a light jacket versus a heavy winter coat. This shopping list is also great to pass along to those friends or relatives hoping to chip in for back-to-school shopping! In the spirit of giving, suggest donating those items that are still in nice condition to a local rescue mission.
Next on the agenda? Study-space! Study space often changes as children get older, moving from a front and center spot for the elementary age to more remote rooms as more focus is needed. Some children prefer to have a separation between school and sleep, keeping their notebooks and homework out of their bedroom while others don’t mind mingling the two. Put aside some time over the next few weeks to clear off the endless objects that have collected on dormant desks throughout summer vacation.
Before you set to organizing the desktop, though, make sure the desk and chair are still the right sizes for your student. Growth spurts happen when no one expects it and discovering that a desk is no longer the proper fit for a child can cause a homework hiccup. Have your younger children organize their desks with cute cups or bins, putting markers and pencils together within easy reach. Keep a stash of additional supplies well-hidden as they will come in handy each time another beloved glue stick goes missing (and it will save you a surprise trip to the store!).
While your older children probably have a gauge on what supplies they use the most, encourage them to organize their desks as well. A clean canvas makes for better focus and eliminating the need to dig through a drawer full of random trinkets to find a calculator will be appreciated come September.
Don’t forget the bookcase! This is a great time for a thorough dusting (at minimum) or to go through each shelf to remove any books that are no longer on the favorites list. Younger children may enjoy organizing their bookshelves by color or alphabetically or sharing why one book used to be their beloved bedtime story. Make a box of books to donate to the local library and reward your children with a trip to the bookstore to discover a new genre.
For parents, one of the biggest adjustments on those first days of school is discovering backpacks tossed in the middle of the living room floor, shoes deposited down a hallway, and cardigans draped across the couch. Creating a drop-zone for returning students will give your children a space to unload while making the transition from “school to “home.”
While a mudroom is ideal for this, it is not required. Use a small bench or bin for shoe storage and add coat hooks for jackets or backpacks. If you already have hooks installed, check their weight limits! With each higher grade, book bags become heavier, make sure their drop-zones are ready for the load to avoid damage to the wall.
In the morning, the drop-zone becomes a natural launchpad, a pickup spot for everything that is going out the door and onto the bus. Give your children an evening deadline of having all items back in the space for the following day and the morning rush can be a little bit less chaotic.
Long hours at school mean hungry children coming through the door at day’s end! Rather than a daily barrage of “there’s nothing to eat!” create bins based on nutritional category and label accordingly. This is an easy way to point your younger children to the refrigerator or pantry to grab, for example, 1 protein + 1 fruit + 1 sweet. Breakfasts can be done the same way if your kids prefer to grab and go - simply create a breakfast bin with granola bars or yogurts that can be eaten on the road.
The end of summer can be bittersweet as we say goodbye to a more relaxed schedule. Getting a head start on back-to-school preparation may make the transition a little bit easier and make the arrival of September a little more relaxing as well!
Herring Homes has beautiful new builds convenient to amazing educational opportunities, each crafted with ideal spaces to make preparation easier. Contact us today to learn more!