12 Secrets to Make This the Best Back to School Year Yet!
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So, I don’t pretend to be the most knowledgeable Mom on the planet. (Usually.) But I do have 4 kids–one has completed high school, one is starting kindergarten this year, and the other two are well into their school-age careers. So I am pretty darn well-versed in what’s gonna make the start of school (and many, many parts during the year) easier. For that reason, I thought I’d share with you my 12 secrets for making this the best back to school year ever! (And hopefully the less stressed.)
1.Put ALL teacher/classroom/school info in you Household Binder.
Wait-what? You don’t have one? Seriously–get a binder and some divided tabs, and start a Family Binder with your family’s important and household info. You will refer to this stuff several times a year most likely, and if it’s all right there together where all the other family info is, you never have to keep up with it separately.
This is also helpful in case there’s an emergency. Or you have family come stay with the kids so you can take a trip. Or a babysitter. You get the idea.
2. Create contacts for your kids’ teachers + the main school phone # in your phone and include email addresses.
Do this immediately. Also, add in ‘[insert kid’s name]’s teacher’ in the ‘company’ section so in case you forget the teacher’s name (I seriously did this the entire year for both middle kids), you can just do a search for that and it’ll pull up the contacts.
THEN–make sure to forward those contacts to your husband/partner and request that they add the contacts immediately.
I honestly can’t tell you the number of times I needed to send a quick email regarding homework, snacks, special candy, holiday parties, grade programs/plays (you get the idea) to a teacher and knew that if I didn’t send the email in the 25 seconds I had before gymnastics started, I’d forget until it was too late. This tip alone has been a lifesaver and instrumental in me creating our best back to school year!
3. Find all teachers ‘likes’ for gift-giving time
Step 1-We had a good run where the teacher would actually list these things on the ‘getting to know me’ handout that was included at the beginning of the school year. SAVE THESE!!!! Seriously–those are direct quotes from that teacher as to what kind of gifts she would like and will cherish from you and your child.
Step 2-If there is no such thing for your child’s teacher, the next step would be to Facebook stalk. Find out what kinds of things he/she is interested in, and make a list.
Step 3-Go ahead and purchase minimum of 2 of these things and put them away for when it’s gift giving times. Major ones are Christmas, end of year/teacher appreciation, and if you do birthdays for teachers.
If you regularly have too much on your plate to be able to mentally function at the holidays and end of the school year like every other Mom on the planet, you’ll seriously thank me for this advice later.
And if you still can’t get ideas from Step 1 or 2, check out this post on ideas for teacher’s gifts.
4. Put all school dates in the calendar ASAP
I know a lot of dates aren’t released (like for holiday parties, end of year festivities, etc), but the major dates for in-school and out-of-school should be on the calendar that is given at the start of school, or that you may already have found online.
Go ahead and put these in your main calendar so you don’t forget! Our kids go to 2 different schools, with different start and release dates (and times every day), and have different dates for teacher work days. This will save lots of frantic calls for emergency sitters, or having to call in sick to work. Or, you know, forgetting to take your kid to school at all.
ALSO INCLUDE the first parent-teacher conference date and time when you’re adding dates. Teachers like to schedule a first one pretty close to the start of the year to go over your kid’s work and behavior, and any other issues that may need to be addressed.
5. Get to know the teacher
I know some of us are blessed with children that always make excellent grades, behave perfectly, and have no food allergies or other health issues. Others of us–me included–have kids that have all of these issues and must be in touch with the teacher frequently.
It’s a lot easier to handle personality quirks if you take a little time to get to know your kids’ teachers at the start of the school year. ‘Meet the teacher’ night is probably not the *ideal* time to do this because there are so many other kids and parents there to meet him/her as well. But a semi-in-depth conversation when you meet him/her can give you a decent idea of personality, as well as time to ask what the best contact methods are.
I bring up contact methods because I’ve had issues getting in touch with teachers before. This was the result of them trying to use one of the school messenger apps, then never responding to it, or not returning phone calls, or not responding to email. Every teacher is different in their response times and preferences, so find that out.
Knowing the teacher a little better will seriously prevent a lot of frustration in trying to communicate throughout this best back to school year!
I know this isn’t an option for every parent, but if you have the time–volunteer for something! Anything! This is for a couple reasons:
1-Your kid knows you’ll be up there every now and again, and this affects behavior
2-The teacher has you on their radar. I know this sounds like teachers give preferential treatment, which isn’t fair to the other parents. But in my experience, teachers are waaaay more communicative and accommodating if you’re doing them a favor by volunteering. This doesn’t have to be anything major. It could be cutting stuff out of construction paper. But if they know you’re willing to help, they usually reciprocate with a helpful and cheery attitude, and respond to questions and other issues that are pressing to you.
7. Get your school morning routine down to a science
I know it’s a struggle to get kids back on a sleep schedule, and also back on a wake-up schedule. But the other parts of the mornings before school could be way easier. I’m telling you, the best back to school year involves pleasant, smooth-running, and stress-free school morning when getting out the door for school.
I’m talking about things like, pre-making lunches the night before, packing up backpacks the night before, and having a good breakfast.
If you need help creating your perfect morning routine, I invite you to take the Smoother School Mornings Challenge! It walks you through 5 steps in 5 days to eliminate school morning chaos. Plus, it’s delivered straight to your inbox! Click the image below to get started!
8. Find out each classroom policy on things like snacks, eating, and water.
I say this because at one point last year, my kids were no longer allowed to have disposable water bottles in the classroom. This was because 2 or 3 kids couldn’t manage to NOT punch holes in their water bottles and then shake them around in the classroom to soak other students. Don’t ask me why everybody had to be punished, or why these kids weren’t supervised for a long enough period that they were able to manage this type of obnoxious behavior. The point is that at that point they only allowed reusable water bottles. So if my kid was thirsty during the day, she had to either ask to go use the water fountain, or do without.
Another policy they had was that kids could eat snacks any time they wanted in the class. It was helpful to know this because one of my kids complained of headaches in the afternoon, and since she had a super early lunch, I suspected she was dehydrated and hungry. So I had to make sure she packed a good snack, water in a reusable bottle, and remembered to eat a snack around 2pm.
9. Find out the teacher conference times
That is, if they’re not listed on the beginning of the year paperwork they send out. This is important because you need to know when you can come in and talk with the teacher if anything is amiss during the year. That way, you’re able to coordinate with your own schedule.
Teachers aren’t typically able to just have a meeting anytime during the day, so that time of day is important.
10. Don’t kill yourself trying to find that *one thing* nobody can find on the ‘school supply’ list.
Seriously. If it’s something super mandatory, the teacher will send out an announcement when that thing is needed. Otherwise, the usual protocol is to dump each school supply item into a large bin in the classroom. Then everything is doled out later.
On that same note, don’t bother buying the best brand you can find, or the specific color your kid wants. They have very little chance of actually getting and using that thing you bought and spent more money on because of the system most schools have gone to for school supplies. Which I DON’T agree with, but whatever.
Find out what other parents live close. Then ask if they’re willing to carpool to/from school. This saved me a ton of time the last few years. The only thing I recommend is setting up a firm schedule and sticking to it the best you can. My neighbor and I have done this the last few years. If either of us was sick or had something going on, the other graciously picked up the slack. It worked perfect.
12. Get a sleep schedule ASAP
Seriously. Kids quickly get into the habit of staying up late, reading, playing, watching tv, and playing on electronics during the summer. The sooner you can get them back on a sleep schedule the better. This is especially helpful to get a handle on before the time change happens in October.
Grab your free Kids Sleep Schedule Log by clicking the image below!
And there you have it–my 12 tips for the best back to school year ever! Hopefully you found a few tips to help you move through the start of this school year seamlessly!
And if you’re in need of WAY less stressed school mornings, how about joining the FREE 5-day Smoother School Mornings Challenge!? Click the image below to get started!
Got any more tips? Let me know in the comments below!
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