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5 Smart Ingredients for a Successful School Year

Mighty Mommy has five savory ingredients you can mix into summer’s end to ensure your family has a positive and successful school year—one that’s sure to earn you an A+ and lots of extra credit!

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #342

It may be late August but let’s face it: the minute that last, vibrant firework exploded across our summer’s 4th of July sky, advertisers started to promote # 2 pencils, super-charged laptops, and the hottest back-to-school sneakers so that we would be ready, willing, and able to take on this brand new, school year!

Back-to-school time is just as magnanimous as other mighty milestones in our lives—the birth of a new baby, moving to a new home, successfully programming a universal remote for our TV or DVD player ... I mean, this is a pretty big deal in the lives of millions across the country. Although we do it each and every year, it still requires thoughtful energy to get our kids, homes, and mindsets psyched up to transition from a laid-back summer schedule to a more structured and organized routine. 

Eight kids and the launching of dozens of new school years later, I feel not only qualified but also sincerely obliged to share what I feel are the necessary ingredients to creating a savory, satisfying, and most delicious recipe for a fulfilling and stress-free school year.

Ingredient #1: Reflect and Re-establish Routines

Before you get too crazy trying to organize, schedule, and commit to an overloaded school agenda, take some time to gather with your kids and recap your summer.  Share in the fun memories you made at the beach, going on vacation, or simply hanging out together with nothing to do but chill out.  (You can skip over those moments when you thought summer would never end!) This will help put you all in a grateful state of mind; although summer schedules can’t last forever, how fortunate are we to have some down time to refresh ourselves for the busy year ahead?

Now that you have your family’s attention and everyone is feeling rested and relaxed, lay the "Ground Rules for the Upcoming School Year" and help get your children on the same page as you by setting and discussing the rules they need to follow before the first day. If they have chores (and they should), when do you expect them to be done? How much TV and electronics will you be allowing once school starts? Can friends come over to play before homework is done? If sports are involved, how will your children handle chores and homework? What are your expectations for a morning routine? Sit down together with your children and position this talk as a positive way to help them eliminate as much stress and chaos as possible.

For younger kids, that might be something as simple as letting them pick out their own clothes. (It’s OK if stripes and plaid are their choice—don’t sweat the small stuff!)

If you haven’t implemented any routines into your family’s daily school lives yet, don’t worry—there’s still plenty of time.  For more ideas you can refer to my Episode # 179 How Routines Can Simplify Your Life as well as  Episode # 195 Transitioning from Summer to Back-to-School.

Ingredient #2: Organizing Your Home

Organizing for the start of the school year can make you feel physically organized as well as mentally ready and there are several ways to make this happen. For starters, most schools have their calendars for the year out already, so download a copy so you can schedule and mark everything down ahead of time and aren’t scrambling when November hits and you’re expected to know about late fall testing or your contribution to the annual Holiday bazaar.

Early September is also a perfect time to decide on “Homework Spaces” in your house. If your child doesn’t have a quiet spot, such as a desk in his bedroom, to tackle homework on a nightly basis spend some time thinking together about where he can set up a functioning reading and work space in the house. Choose special places, like corners of rooms, or certain tables or chairs that are dedicated solely to your kids’ most important task: homework.   See Also:  5 Tips to Help Kids Manage Homework

Organize the space in advance with the essentials, such as a good lamp, pencils, a sharpener, crayons and markers, a ruler, paper, and anything else you think he might need to start the school year off on a fresh, orderly note. And don’t forget to set up a system for yourself to keep your children’s school paperwork organized. This may include communications from the teacher, field trip slips, PTA newsletters, and other documents.  We set up a homework station that is also portable, which is so practical. I love using a shower caddy (yes, I kid you not!) because it has built-in organizing bins and it’s easy for my kids to transport around the house.

We also have a “Drop Zone” in our entry way that has several crates for my kids to unload their backpacks each day with forms that need parental attention, library books, school materials that need to be returned, etc. As kids get older and enter middle and high school, parents have less access to their child’s “school lives.” When you get your child in the habit of unloading their backpacks the moment they enter the house, utilizing this "Drop Zone," you have a much higher success rate of staying in the “know” for your kid’s day-to-day school lives. Mind you, this is a new habit to create, but once you encourage your family to follow this simple step each and every day for the first few weeks of school—it will make the rest of your school year tastefully organized!  See Also: 10 Ways to Become a More Organized Parent

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