Let’s Talk: Back to School – Reader Questions and Advice

The following post is by Simple Kids editor Kara Fleck.

It is that time of year again:  time to start thinking about getting the kids ready for going back to school. In our area, the kids are heading back to classes on Monday.

The Simple Kids email box has received a few questions about back to school, but as some of you know, my family homeschools so this isn’t really my area of expertise.

Let’s Talk

I thought I would share those  questions here and then open up the comments and let our readers give their answers.  I know some of you are seasoned veterans at the whole back-to-school thing and I look forward to reading your wisdom.

Reader Questions

Here are some of the questions that have landed in my in-box.  Maybe you can help answer them?

  • How can I prepare my preschooler for her first day of school?  I’m worried about separation anxiety.
  • My kids have been sleeping in this summer.  Any tips on getting every one ready for early mornings again?
  • Our mornings are so chaotic now.  I’m worried about the extra stress of getting everyone out the door for the bus on time.  Do you have any advice to help our mornings run smoothly?
  • We’ve never had to deal with homework before.  How can I set my child up for success?  I don’t want the dreaded “homework hassle” because I know we’ll be dealing with this for a long time.

Your Tips

I know Simple Kids readers have a lot of wisdom to share.  What are your best tips for:

  • Helping kids get their homework done
  • Organizing school supplies
  • Keeping track of all those papers, announcements, and notices
  • Easing kids into the back-to-school routine

Are your kids heading back to school? Have any questions of your own? Any good back to school tips to share? Let’s Talk!

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Hi everyone :-)

    I saw that Megan has a great article up today on Simple Organic about taking the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) back to school:

    And earlier this week Tsh, Simple Mom, had a post up at DaySpring’s Back to School with Purpose site:

  2. I enjoyed this post from Jessica at Life as Mom about preparing and planning for homeschooling:

    Janna @ Mommy’s Piggy TALES – Record YOUR Youth´s latest post: 7th Grade Stories Return as We Record Our Youth

  3. We do public school, and all of my kids will be in school this year, with my youngest starting pre k at age 4 – we didn’t feel he was ready last year. He is super excited – he received a new backpack as a gift and asks all the time when school starts, so he’s ready for sure this year! He doesn’t seem to exhibit any separation anxiety, but we’ll see how it goes – he is always home with us, so should be interesting. He enjoyed playing at this pre-k during the screening sessions and orientation, plus he loves Sunday school, so I think he’ll be fine. Storytimes and Sunday school sessions are great intros to small doses of mommy-less time to prep for pre k!

    I don’t have a lot of “answers” – I struggle with many of the questions asked, but I can share a couple things I’ve learned. A binder for those school docs that you want at your fingertips is a lifesaver. I have a standard binder – one the front of the binder, instead of a cover I have the absence hotline info provided by the school – this way either my husband and I can quickly get that number when sleep deprived and dealing with a sick child. Inside the binder, I use pocket sleeves and tabs – I organize one tab per child for school, one tab per child for each activity (dance, scouts) and then a general info tab. I also have tab where I keep old school phone trees – handy when finding a phone # of a friend that isn’t in your current child’s class but they want a playdate or are on the same baseball team. Each week I go through the school paperwork – shredding the stuff I’m not keeping, and then putting into the binder the important info and then I have a “junk” tab for short term info I want to keep – upcoming events, permission slip info (after I’ve detached the actual part to send in!), allergy lists, etc. I weed through that tab regularly. I love this binder. I also have an accordion file that has a lot of divided slots in it – I am not sure exactly what its called, but it has a handle and holds all the paperwork that I don’t need in my binder but am not ready to throw out yet – homework, tests, girl scout cookie order forms, etc. At the end of each school year (or this year I will do this before school starts – oops!) I go through it and shred any info I don’t want. I clean out the binder as well before each school year – filing what I want to keep elsewhere, moving class lists to the old class list tab, etc.

    To prep for back to school bedtimes, I do slowly move bedtime back to a normal time. We have gotten very lax this year so I need to start this week moving things back 15 mins or so – so the kids don’t really notice. I let them read in their beds so I find they naturally fall asleep earlier if I put them bed a little “earlier” than they’d like but they can keep their lights on a bit more.

    School supplies – buy the basics WITHOUT your kids and then take them on a mini trip to pick up key items so you aren’t spending a fortune. Buy a whole slew of extra glue sticks, tape, colored pencils, markers on sale , plus lined paper, extra notebooks, folders and a binder or two, along with poster board. Take these supplies and place them in a small bin and stash it under your bed or on a high shelf – do not let your kids know you have this! This way when your child comes home needing last minute supplies, you can pull it out of that bin vs making a last minute run to the store. I keep extra pencils, pens, erasers, and sharpies here as well as some craft supplies.

    I also bought a couple clear magnetized frames that go on the fridge – I put the school lunch menu in one and the school calendar for the month in the other – these are on the side of my fridge and easy for any of us to grab and look at. Last year I bought a little in box that I put in the kitchen – I stack various papers in that box and then weed through it regularly to place in binder or file folders or to shred. This was very helpful to my oldest – she tended to have papers she had to refer back to, so I was able to point her to that inbox so she could find that critical piece of paper – much better than immediately shredding an old quiz or homework paper to find out it was really needed!!

  4. We don’t have homework yet or school supplies kept at home, so I can’t really speak to those.

    One thing I did last year was put all notices on the fridge. It’s not very clever or creative, but it keeps it RIGHT in front of my eyes, which I need.

    School mornings DESPERATELY need routine. Wake-up time, breakfast, getting dressed and ready, gathering backpack and lunch . . . I try to make it all go in the same order. I think that this year I’ll make a poster with visual cues or something to keep both of us on track.

    A great book on first day of school jitters is The Kissing Hand. LOVE IT. Totally got us through the first week of Pre-K last year! Also, Wimberly Worried by Kevin Henkes.
    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s latest post: The Three Rs Go Back To School

  5. I have yet to deal with any troubles starting preschool, nor have any separation troubles. My oldest started at 3 and my youngest will start in one week (!) at age 2 years and 7 months. With my oldest we went over and over the daily routine all summer (wake up, have breakfast, mommy will drive you, we’ll say good-bye, she’ll work in the classroom, have a story, have a snack, play on the playground, and then mommy will pick up for lunch). That really helped her be prepared for what to expect. Her grandmothers are teachers, so school was seen as a really fun place big kids went which helped. The PBS show Sid the Science Kid has a really fun teacher that would help present school in a good light. Other than that, make sure she knows where the bathroom is, where her hook or cubby is, and at least one of the teachers by name. My youngest, who was with me for drop-off and pick-up all last year, can’t wait to go with her big sister, so no troubles there!

  6. I have one starting 1st grade this year and one in her second year of preschool, and we have implemented a lot of things mentioned already-putting important notices on the fridge is one that I think I will change to the binder idea-With 2 children in school (the preschool is in the elementary school) there seems to be a LOT of notes weekly. Otherwise, I have a big desk calender on my fridge-I attach magnets to the back-and EVERYTHING gets written on there-practices, class trips, no school days, etc. Everyone has a different color of pen so I can see at a glance who has something going that particular day. We have totes for each child that holds their backpack and any project that needs to go back to school, etc so that we get ready the night before so we can just grab stuff on our way out the door and not forget anything. My 1st grader picks his clothes out the night before and my preschooler picks out her outfits over the weekend for the whole week so that she can just pick up her outfit in the morning. I have a set of stacking bins in the hallway where the kids can put their clothes to grab in the morning. I get up 45 minutes before the kids so I can get ready for the day, and make my son’s lunch if needed before the kids get up. My preschool daughter has a board by the bathroom of her morning routine (our preschool teacher’s made it, but it’s easy to make on your own) with each thing she needs to do in the morning listed-get up, eat breakfast, go to the bathroom, get dressed, get your backpack, etc. Her list is laminated with each “job” on a seperate laminated square with velcro on the back. As she gets done, she can pull off that square and put it in the pocket provided and then move on to the next thing.
    We start getting everyone up earlier in the morning (including the toddler) 2 weeks before-moving the time back until it’s the school morning time and slowly moving bedtime back to the right time also during those 2 weeks.
    My children haven’t had seperation anxiety yet, but our school has an open house the day before so they were able to see their classes and meet the teachers before the big day.
    With school supplies, we made a “special” shopping trip to get those and soon after we got home, we labeled them and put them in my son’s school bag-since his teacher keeps all the extra supplies for the whole year, we didn’t have to worry about organizing them at home.


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