School bells will soon be ringing, and while that means no more sleeping in or lazy days at the pool, welcoming structure and routine back into family life helps get kids who are reluctant to return to school more motivated to go. With a positive attitude and a few back to school tips, even reluctant school goers can start the school year off right. And getting off on the right foot paves the way for school success for the entire year.
1. Reintroduce nightly routines.
It’s easy to get off schedule during the summer when longer days beckon kids outside late and sleeping in is easy to do. Introduce nightly routines before school starts or as early in the school year as possible because it may take children a few days to adjust. Read a book together as a family to simulate academic routine before daily homework starts. If you have tweens or teens that have been staying up late, take their bed time back 15 minutes every night until you get to the desired bedtime so it isn’t too much of a shock to kids’ sleep cycles.
2. Get organized.
Organize those areas that you will use for school preparations. Make a place for lunch and breakfast items in the refrigerator and pantry so they will be ready to go when making lunches or breakfast. Restock home desk supplies and prep study areas. Organize your laundry room with baskets for school uniforms, sports uniforms, and individual kid’s clothes. Don’t overlook your vehicle. Keep a basket with all the things you might need for those busy hectic drives between school, work and after-school activities.
3. Purge last year’s items.
Go through backpacks and closets and get rid of anything that is outgrown or worn out. Sell the nicest items at consignment stores or a yard sale, and save what you make to put toward new items this school year.
If your child has a hard time letting go of items even though they are worn out or don’t fit, try putting them in storage for a month or two, then bring them back out. I’ve done this with my own kids, and usually they are willing to give up the items when they realize they haven’t missed them.
4. Devise a shopping strategy.
After you have purged your home of old items, it is fun to replace them. Sometimes kids get excited about returning to school because they get new clothes and supplies.
Check out all the sales flyers and compare prices for the things your child needs. Make a shopping list of needed school supplies, clothing items and any organizing tools you might need for closets.
If your school has already sent a supply list, you can shop early and avoid the crowds and out-of-stock items. Sometimes I even shop late in the evening for school supplies when the aisles are less crowded so I can look carefully for what my kids need. The more you plan, the more you can do in one trip. You might even make it a special day out with kids.
5. Attend school orientations.
Sneak-a-peek. Back-to-School Night. Readyfest. They are called a variety of names, but back-to-school orientations are another way to create a desire to go back to school. Students can meet their teacher, check out their classroom and see friends they haven’t seen all summer. This can make students previously hesitant to return to school eager to get started.
6. Set goals.
Help your child set a goal for the school year, or set a family goal together. Maybe your child wants to ace pre-algebra, start a kid blog or read more books than they read last year. Or maybe he or she wants to kick more goals in soccer this year or nail that back handspring they have been working on in gymnastics. As a family, maybe you want to volunteer together at school or raise money for a worthy cause in the community. Setting goals can motivate kids and families to have an amazing school year.
7. Celebrate with back to school traditions.
It can be simple, like snapping a morning photo shoot before the first day of school, or elaborate, like hosting a neighborhood back-to-school bash at your house. Have a family meal at your favorite restaurant after the first day or plan a special weekend getaway before homework and sporting events kick in. Whatever you choose, model an upbeat attitude about the start of a new school year, and chances are your child will too.
Janeen Lewis is a writer, elementary teacher and mom. She has been published in several parenting publications across the country and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales.