As summer is winding down and both children and parents are preparing for the return to classes, there is always a rush to fill those back to school lists and make sure everything is ready for the first day. This time can be exciting for students who are looking forward to seeing friends they have missed and are looking forward to new supplies and clothes.
For parents, though, this time can be a nightmare. Not only is this time a reminder that children are growing up, but it is also a time of chaos to find the right supplies for each student in the home. And it is an expensive process. In 2019, US households will spend an average of $518 per kid on back-to-school supplies.
Here are eight tips to surviving back to school preparations to give you a little more time to make memories in the final weeks of summer break.
Each year you receive a list of what each child will need for their new classes. While there are a few class-specific items they will need (especially with older children), the items required will generally include some basic essentials. Here are some great ways to save some money and get the supplies needed without the chaos of back to school shopping.
Start Early to Save Time
Starting early on the back to school buying process, allows you to avoid the last-minute rush at the stores. Buying the basics like pencils, crayons, and markers beforehand will leave only the class-specific items left to buy when the school lists are out.
Buying an entire list of school supplies in one trip can be costly and often puts a strain on the budget. Lessen the strain by purchasing a few items at a time throughout the summer months. Each time you make a trip for groceries or find yourself at the store, grab a box of pencils or crayons.
Utilize Bulk Buying to Lower Costs
With a family to provide for, you are probably familiar with buying in bulk to lower grocery bills. This concept works great for school supplies as well. Items like pencils and crayons can be found in bundles with five or more boxes together. The price for these bundles will generally be less than for single boxes, allowing you to save a bit on items you will need several of to fill your list. This works very well if you are in a community with several neighboring kids around the same age.
Some other items that you can find in bulk include hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, loose-leaf paper, folders, and glue. These are items that almost always make it on the list, and if you find you have extras, you can use them around the house or save them for next year’s list.
Save Leftovers From Prior Year
As mentioned above, when you have extra items, saving them for the next school year provides savings and relief from back to school buying. Save supplies that have been brought home from the end of the year cleanout to use in the new school year. Go through your childâ€™s bring home pile and pull out notebooks and loose-leaf paper that are usable. These will help reduce the need in the new year to come.
Not all of the items they bring home will be suitable for their next school year, but many are. Things such as used notebooks and crayons will not generally be accepted the following year. However, they make great project supplies for summer activities. Items like folders and unused notebooks and pencils will usually work for the next year, and the best part is they will already be labeled.
Label Items Before Classes Begin
The final tip for school supplies is labeling. This step is something that you may be able to do ahead of time to avoid the loss of items you will have to buy again.
Depending on your school, supplies like hand sanitizer may be able to be marked. However, many schools have moved to a system where each child brings a set amount of these items, and they are stored and used by all the students throughout the year.
Routines and Schedules
Routines and schedules are something your children will learn at school, especially for older children with changing classes. Routines and schedules are also good practices to have at home. Here are some habits to consider to ease the chaos of back to school.
Re-Establish Sleep Routines
Your children, like most, probably have a bedtime routine they follow nightly. For many, these routines become a bit lax during the summer months. They are allowed to stay up a bit later and get up later as well. These routines should be re-established at least three weeks before the return to classes.
Sleep routines are essential in the overall success of children during school. Children learn better when they have slept enough. Re-establishing these routines in advance allows your child to become accustomed to the new schedule again and avoids the dragging feeling the first week of school caused by tiredness.
Begin the Morning Routine Before School Starts
Along with bedtime routines, morning routines should start early as well. When your body is accustomed to sleeping until 9 or 10 and now has to get up at 6 or 7, it can be quite a shock. The effect on children is even worse. Not only are they harder to get up in the morning, they often become cranky and upset when they have not slept for as long as usual.
Depending on the schedule children kept during the summer, this new schedule may only take a few days; however, for others, it may take a few weeks. For this reason, starting this process earlier is better. As with the sleep routine, morning routines should be started at least three weeks before the beginning of classes. This period will allow for each childâ€™s body to acclimate to the change.
Plan After School Routines
After school routines are crucial to maintaining a healthy schedule for children, if they will be going home or to after school care, children need to be aware of what to expect. After school routines should be practiced and explained so that each child understands what will be going on. This step is especially important when younger children will be going to a new program after school.
After school routines should include time for school work, time for chores, meal times, and of course, time with parents. Each of these activities should have a schedule that allows your child to develop the routine. Practicing these routines before school starts can give you a bit of extra time with your children before summer ends. During the time they would be doing homework, they could read to you or the other way around.
Limit Television and Video Games
Another vital tip to remember while setting routines and making schedules is television and video game time. Like every other aspect in your child’s life, these too, should have limits and alotted times. While it is okay for children to watch television and play video games, it is crucial that the amount of time they spend doing so is monitored.
Children should not play video games or even watch television before or during bedtime. Both of these activities stimulate the brain and can be a hindrance in the sleep process. Recommendations are that these activities are stopped at least thirty minutes before your child is to go to sleep. This time will allow the brain to slow down and resume normal activity levels before the rest begins.
Pulling it All Together
Back to school brings new hopes for many but it can be a chaotic and expensive time of year. Starting the buying process and routine planning early, will save you a little bit of money and several headaches along the way. Planning activities and practicing routines will ensure that your last weeks of summer are enjoyable and that you will still have time to make more memories to last until next summer.