The lazy days of summer are about to be replaced with some manic mornings.
The back-to-school routine is not always a smooth adjustment for kids or their parents, since it's not easy to get used to a new sleep schedule as well as handling all the assignments and responsibilities.
These six tips will help you get your kid in back to school mode:
Get them used to the idea early
Start by talking to your child a week or two in advance about the change in schedule that's necessary when school starts.
"What you want to do is help you child imagine the earlier bedtime necessary, the early morning wake-up, and have her visualizing spending the day in school," parenting expert Bob Lancer said in an e-mail.
Stock up on what they need – plus some extras
There's nothing like new notebooks, crayons and clothes to help make the mental transition to back-to-school time. As you shop, let them make some of their own choices – within reason.
Getting them a small school-related surprise like fun eraser-toppers for the first day of school can also help start them off on the right foot, Susan Morley, parenting expert and founder of Parent Coach Atlanta, said.
Adjust your child's bedtime
Bedtimes tend to be a lot more relaxed during the summer, and getting up early can be a definite shock to a child's system. A child who hasn't gotten enough sleep is more likely to be cranky – aren't we all? – and may be sleepy in their first class or in the afternoon.
Adjust their sleep schedule by moving their bedtime closer to their school bedtime the week before school begins. Two nights before they'll be heading back to school, have them go to bed at their school bedtime, Lancer said.
Start getting back into the morning routine
If your kids are used to lazing around in the morning and having a flexible time to wake up, school mornings can be a big adjustment. Changing the schedule little by little a week or so in advance can help ease the transition,
"I always try the graduated approach to waking up early," she explained. By the end of the last week, Morley advised getting kids dressed in the morning as well.
Set up a comfortable place to study
Your child should have a clean, well lit, comfortable space for homework. Make sure they have the supplies they need at hand so they don't waste time searching for a ruler, highlighter or other item.
"Get them in the habit of going to this place regularly at a time that works for you, and then back off," Morley suggested.
Make your child's schedule work as well as possible
Each year brings its own scheduling challenges. Find out when your child has lunchtime, since they may need an extra snack to tide them over if they eat very early or late.
And if you find yourself waiting in one child's pick-up line while another sits in the car with you, be prepared with a portable homework kit. Keep a laptop desk and some basic supplies in a small bag that stays in the car. Your child will be able to get a jumpstart on his or her homework while they wait.
Your child will learn a wealth of information in kindergarten, and you can help ensure that he or she knows what's needed to get off to a good start.
If you're like most parents, you probably wonder how much and exactly what your child needs to know in order to feel at ease and be ready to learn.
Basic skills and information
Your child should know some basics that will help kindergarten start more comfortably and easily. They should be able to take turns as well as work and play independently and also be able to say their name, address and phone number.
Easily separating from parents is important, but this may take a few days. Your child should be able to use the bathroom (including wiping and hand washing) without help, although teachers know that accidents do happen.
Fine and gross motor control
Both fine and gross motor skills are important since they'll help your child be able to easily participate in activities to play and learn. Your child should be able to line up and walk in a straight line as well as jump and throw a ball. Help them practice using scissors to cut out shapes, using glue (both sticks and bottles) and holding a pencil or crayon. This will help your child feel more comfortable and let them be able to focus on learning and work as opposed to learning how to use the tools.
Your child doesn't have to know how to read before starting kindergarten, but they should be ready to learn. This means that they're able to distinguish between pictures and words and between letters and words. They may also be able to read a few high-frequency words, such as "is," "the" and "me." And your child should also understand basic concepts, including the fact that we read left to right and that a book is read from front to back, one page at a time.
For kids who aren't used to a lot of hustle and bustle, it can be a shock to adjust to being one of a large group of kids. Your child should feel comfortable interacting and socializing in larger groups, so look for opportunities that will help prepare him or her for being one in a relatively large group. He or she should feel comfortable rather than ill at ease and should also be able to participate and ask for help if needed.
It's hard for your child to learn if he or she can't pay attention and listen in the classroom. Help them develop this skill by reading books aloud to them, start to finish and by talking about the book. Eating together and practicing sitting still as well as taking turns speaking and listening can also help your child develop his or her attention span and understand the back-and-forth nature of conversations.
Familiarity with numbers
It helps if your child knows some numbers and is able to count from 1 to 5 or 10. Practice counting games around the house by asking your child how many red trucks he or she has or how many cookies are left on the plate. You can also point out numbers on the calendar and say the number of certain objects as you go for a walk or play in the park ("three kids," “two dogs," etc.)
Lunch doesn't have to be a chore -- it can even be fun for you and your little ones.
Check out these lunch ideas to get you geared up for the school year.
1. Dessert is what many young children look forward to, so take a cupcake baking pan and flip it upside down. Get cookie dough and roll it flat. Take a circular cookie cutter and make cutouts. Take the cutout cookie and form it over the individual cupcake pan bowls. Bake as usual, let cool, then add fruit to the cookie bowl for a healthy twist.
2. Take tortillas and add leftovers or the filling of your choice. Roll it to wrap it, put in on a Foreman grill or press it down on the stove top creating a burrito that doesn’t come undone for a mess-free lunch.
3. Cut up apples into thin slices, coat with cinnamon sugar, syrup or lemon juice and bake until crispy for apple chips. You can do this with plantains, strawberries or any fruit of your choice that you want to turn into a chip for easy packing and preserving.
4. Cut pita bread into squares or triangles and bag. Then add containers of cheese dip, hummus, peanut butter or chicken salad spread. Add celery sticks, carrot sticks and broccoli for dipping utensils.
5. Take premade dough, like Pillsbury, roll it out and make them into rectangles as long as a piece of string cheese. Place turkey pepperoni, veggies or the filling of your choice into the center of the dough. Add pizza sauce, a string cheese stick, pesto or the sauce of your choice and wrap the cheese, closing the seam. Coat with butter and herbs and bake until done for fun finger food that’s hassle-free for your preschooler’s lunch.
6. Drop strawberries and blueberries into melted chocolate and let cool in the fridge for fun, packable finger food at lunch.
7. Create your own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, berries, pretzels and the chips of your choosing. Scoop into bags for an easily packable lunch treat.
8. Make broccoli or cauliflower tots. Loosely blend broccoli in a food processor. For 2 cups of ground broccoli add 2 tablespoons of parsley, one-fourth of a yellow onion, one large egg, 1/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs and 1/3 of a cup of panko breadcrumbs. Add half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper and your desired amount of cheese. Mix all together, shape to your desire and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Pack and add the dipping sauce of your choice for a healthy preschool lunch.
9. Make homemade chicken salad. Boil chicken breast until cooked. Let cool, then cut the breast into cubes. Place the chicken into a bowl with mayonnaise or vegenaise, optionally add or substitute mustard. Add chopped celery, onion powder, garlic powder and mix evenly. Add walnuts or the nut of your choice. Spread onto bread for a sandwich, put it into a tortilla for a wrap or eat alone with a side of pickle and chips.
10. Make mini barbecue sandwiches in bulk. Get a large, deep baking dish. Take six or 12 rolls, such as Hawaiian rolls. Without individually separating the rolls, split the whole loaf in half and place the bottom half of the rolls in the bottom of the baking dish. Separately cook pulled beef, chicken or the meat of your choice and add barbecue sauce. Spread the meat mixture onto the bottom layer of the rolls and then add the top layer. Brush the top layer of the rolls with butter and herbs and bake until the top layer becomes golden brown. Cut the preformed rolls apart and pack for lunch.
11. Make peanut butter and banana rollups. Take a tortilla and spread it with peanut or almond butter. Add banana slices or the fruit of your choice, then drizzle with honey or syrup. Roll up and pack for lunch.
12. Make rice in a rice cooker, add frozen mixed veggies and the cooked meat or meat substitute of your choice. Add soy sauce to taste and pack for lunch as homemade fried rice. Add cooked scrambled eggs for extra protein.
13. Make easy pasta salad. Slightly undercook seashell, bowtie or macaroni pasta and let cool. In a separate container add Alfredo, spinach, tomatoes and herbs or get the premade pasta salad seasoning and add olive oil. Toss together in a bowl with the cooled pasta and pack for lunch with a side of cheese bread.
14. Make homemade chicken tenders. Get chicken breast and cut into strips. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and seasoning salt. Roll the chicken breast in the wet mixture and then bread with shake and bake, premade bread crumbs, panko, flour or cornmeal. Then fry in olive oil until golden brown and bake on 350 degrees for an additional 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Pack and serve with a side of ketchup, barbecue or the dipping sauce of your choice.
15. For a premade everything lunch, here is an assortment of things to pack. Cuties mandarin oranges; string cheese; small bagged chips or Goldfish crackers; prebagged grapes; prebagged baby carrots; small, single-serving size of hummus; crackers; pudding cups; Jello cups; cheese dip; Go-Gurt; fruit cups; caramel cups for dipping apples and/or single serving peanut butter cups. Add a granola bar, fruit snacks or trail mix. Make a turkey sandwich on two slices of bread and add mustard, lettuce, tomatoes and pack with additional snacks. Add prepackaged juice, milk or water for an easy to go lunch.
They have picked out the perfect backpacks and matching lunchboxes. The lists of school supplies have been purchased, labeled and stacked, and they’re ready to head to class.
But is your new kindergartner really ready to head to school?
In 2016, a Reddit user, identified as Lucas Hatcher by "Today," posted a photo of a kindergarten checklist on the website. He titled the thread, "I have failed to prepare my son for Kindergarden (sic)."
It didn’t have simple kindergarten expectations like using the restroom by oneself and sitting still for a short period of time.
Instead, it contained tasks like writing one's name, knowing 30-plus letters -- meaning upper and lower case -- counting to 10 or more and cutting correctly with scissors.
Hatcher titled the photo, "I have failed to prepare my son for Kindergarden (sic)."
Hatcher said he focused on the 30-plus letter requirement, since the alphabet has only 26 letters. But according to "Today," many people reacted to what they thought was the extreme nature of the requirements.
"Today" contacted Tom Arnold, the principal of Ooltewah Elementary School, the school that sent out the list posted by Hatcher. Arnold said the checklist, which also included a list of fees and supplies needed for the year, was sent to provide guidance so parents could get their children ready for school.
Educational psychologist Michele Borba told "Today" that Ooltewah's list is comparable to what is expected across the country because of competitive preschools that start teaching academics earlier than in decades past.
They could be the three words that parents most love to hear: back to school.
For many, August will see children heading back to classrooms for the start of a new school year.
For teachers, it means getting a classroom stocked and ready as their students return. It can also mean a hit to a teacher’s wallet.
A growing list of retailers are offering teachers some relief in the form of discounts and special offers.
Below is a list of some deals from online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
Note: Most deals require that a teacher’s identification be verified.
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