Summer is almost over and that means one thing is for sure – school is about to begin! But before you start to hear moans and groans coming from your kids, I asked parents in our community for great tips on how to make the new school year a successful one for both students and parents.
From hand-written notes, aromatherapy oils and setting appropriate bedtimes to having dedicated school-related shopping days and talking about expectations, parents and school employees came up with many creative ideas that work for them – our hope is that these tips will work for you as well.
But before we begin, here at Cypress Self Storage, our hope is to be a part of everyone's family and school plans. Families can store school stuff, art supplies, toys, outdoor toys, etc. at our soon-to-be-completed, state-of-the-art self storage facility! It's a great option for families with kids!
To start off with great tips, Susan of Oakley, said to begin bedtimes that are actually reasonable for school-aged kids, and according to their age group.
"There are fantastic charts available listing reasonable bedtimes," she said. "Also start a bedtime reading routine too."
She added a couple more tips.
"Begin talking about what they expect and hope for the new school year," she said. "And when possible, have your child choose a backpack and a few supplies to donate to someone less fortunate."
For many students, going into a higher grade can be intimidating, but Amanda of Discovery Bay, believes in using encouraging words.
"About a week ago, it occurred to me that the kids were apprehensive about the new school year. Now when we talk, I've been making it a point of saying, 'You are so interesting!' or 'So creative!'" said Amanda. "I've noticed it really boosts their confidence, and hopefully enough to start strong."
We've all seen it before in stores in the school supply isles – so Stephanie of Brentwood, suggested parents refrain from "screaming at their 8-year-old daughter that her notebook book choices are terrible!" She said, "#treatyourchildrenkindly."
A new school year sometimes means new friends and a new environment, so Cathy of Brentwood, suggests starting a secret pen pal.
"Find a student not in the same classroom or homeroom and have them physically write a note to someone they don't know," said Cathy. "Mention what they are looking forward to, what scares them most, etc. It's a great way to feel included."
Leigh of Oakley, worried about her youngest son, who, when he was 12-years-old, struggled with his reading skills.
"Much to his chagrin, I enrolled him in a summer reading course at Cal State East Bay. It was money well spent," she said. "And it was worth the hurt of him telling me 'I still love you mom, but just a little less!'"
Some schools require students wear their school ID on lanyards, and while students are not always thinking about it, Valerie of Discovery Bay, had this suggestion.
"Take a color copy of their school ID and keep that copy in their backpack," she said. "Then, if they ever forget to wear their ID, they have a copy."
Along those same lines of memory, and to keep the lost and found piles low, Shelly of Brentwood, a school employee at Timber Point Elementary in Discovery Bay, suggests parents or students, write their names on absolutely everything.
"Write their names on lunch boxes, ice packs, containers (including plastic disposables, if you want them back), backpacks, water bottles (even the disposable ones), jackets, sweaters, basically anything removable," said Shelly.
"Also write names on a change of clothes for children up to at least second grade, and a picture of the family in their backpack for the younger ones for comfort (laminating helps preserve)," added Shelly. "Lost and found is always full and we end up donating or tossing so many things that are unclaimed."
Providing an extra set of clothes, such as underwear, socks and shoes, Shelly suggested, is great for kids who have bathroom accidents, fall in the mud or get bloody noses.
"It happens more often than you would think," she said. "Much easier to have a second set of clothes, than to leave work and have to bring clothes to the school for your student."
April of Brentwood says she gives her teens a bit of autonomy; she gives them a school budget.
"It allows them the freedom to choose their own style, but also learn to value the dollar," she said. "I do supplies and backpacks, and they must get PE shoes, and whatever school-appropriate clothing they want, including socks and underthings."
In order to avoid routine-shock, April does some pre-planning, before school starts.
"I also start bedtime and device shutdown times about a week before, to scale them back to a normal school schedule."
Carolyn of Brentwood suggests parents try something new this school year.
"Parents, let kids come up with reasonable bedtimes, TV time, etc., and don't be so ready to 'save' your kids from life's realities," said Carolyn. "But most of all, hugs always!"
Emily of Brentwood, mother of three kids, says to plan out their first day, starting with a trip to the store and mall the week before.
"Plan a day of school shopping where kiddos can get their supplies and a first day school outfit," she said. "It gives them a sense of control and also allows them to set their tone of style and sense of self for the year ahead."
Planning, she said, is important.
"We always have a first day of school plan: wake up time, breakfast, packed lunch menu, etc." said Emily. "It makes our morning less stressful and let's them prepare for the day."
Aromatherapy is also part of her kids' routines.
"My kids like to choose oils for their diffusers, so we set up their oil diffusers and favorite oils for mornings, afternoons and nights," she said. "They use a lot of calming oils in the evenings and focus and energizing ones in the mornings."
Emily also believes in the power of hand-written notes.
"I always tuck notes into their backpacks and lunches the first few days," she said. "So they know I'm thinking of them!"