Prepare Students for School Days

The back to school season can be stressful. After all, the summer was chock-full of fun, less structure and late bedtimes. Now it’s time to prepare students for school days again. However, this doesn’t have to be a chore. The following tips can help get your children on board and excited for school.

Scheduling Zzz’s

Oftentimes children sleep in later during the summer, and need to adjust back to a sleep schedule for school. One way to adapt your child’s schedule is to set their alarm earlier two weeks before the start of school. Parents can gradually ease their child into a good sleep schedule so they aren’t groggy the first week of school.

Numerous studies show that a regular bedtime is crucial for the wellbeing of children. For school-aged children, it’s especially important to establish lifelong sleep habits. A lack of a regular sleep schedule is linked to lower academic achievement and higher rates of absenteeism. Worse, it is also linked to hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn.

The ideal amount of sleep for grade-schoolers (6-12 year olds) is 9-12 hours, and for teens (13-18 year olds), 8-10 hours. Two big culprits of a poor sleep routine are too much screen time and caffeine. Both can detract from the quality and length of sleep.  Limit these two by scheduling screen time after-school, removing TVs and video game consoles from the bedroom, and lessening caffeine intake in the afternoons and evenings.

Shop Smart and Early

How many old binders, pens, and folders are lying around in drawers, forgotten about? Back-to-school shopping should be done to re-stock supplies, not utterly replace existing supplies. Shopping smart means that parents only buy what they need. Lots of other materials—such as binders, book bags, pencil cases—can be re-used each year. This move not only saves money, it teaches children the importance of sustainability and re-use. For everything else still needed, make sure to shop early to avoid the rush and stress of making shopping trips last-minute.

Having the proper supplies for class is crucial to the success of students. Usually teachers will send a supply list home a month before the first day. If the budget is tight this year, make a list and prioritize the most important supplies. Hunt for back-to-school sales or bargains, and consider buying in bulk essential supplies that will be needed throughout the year. If you live in Ashtabula, Columbiana, or the Mahoning Valley, consult this list to see if your child is eligible for free school supplies.

You can also buy in bulk to save on school lunches. Check local supermarkets for deals on fruits and vegetables, to pack healthy lunches for your child. You can also check out the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to see if your child qualifies for free or reduced school lunches.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning ahead is the best way to avoid a stressful first day. Parents can set a good example by planning ahead themselves. First, create a planning method for the entire family, and then specifically for each child. A central calendar is a great way to schedule the entire family’s activities, appointments, and events. Display it in a main room for the entire family to see, and update it weekly or even daily. Invest in a planner or agenda for each child, as it’s a great way to learn how to plan day-to-day.

Is the morning rush too hectic, with kids fighting for bathroom time and breakfast being forgotten? Parents can plan and prepare for each school day the night before. Set the breakfast table and pack lunches the night before as a family. Parents can get their kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch meals by asking for their input on what to buy, and teaching them how to pack their lunches. Parents can also encourage their kids to set out their school clothes and backpack the night before.

Get Ready to Learn

Getting children back into school-mode is not just about readjusting sleep schedules and purchasing planners, it’s also about preparing them to learn. Getting back into school mode can be done several ways, including visiting cultural attractions such as museums and attending local back-to-school events.

Back-to-school community events abound. Parks bustle with events that encourage play and exercise. Farmer’s Markets often have craft activities for kids, live music, and healthy cooking demos. These events and more can be found either through a park’s online community calendar, or on this list of Mahoning Valley summer events.

Typically, local libraries will host events that promote reading, music, art, and play. These events can be found on their websites as well. Click here to learn more about what’s going on in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull County libraries.

Museums also provide unique learning experiences, oftentimes their exhibits teach many subjects at once. Children can be exposed to historical artifacts about art, history, biology, and more, all in one visit. Check out some of Mahoning Valley’s unique museums, such as Oh Wow! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, The Ernie Hall Aviation Museum, The Museum of Ceramics, or The Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum.

This back-to-school season can be stress-free and fun with the right preparation. Here’s to the start of a great year!

Written by Georgia Kasamias, Eastern Ohio Education Partnership Communications Intern and senior at Youngstown State University.