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Insider Insights: Articles

Nine back-to-school tips for a smooth transition to the classroom

By Renee Tratch
Digital Writer, theweathernetwork.com
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 10:15 AM

For many Canadian families, this week is about squeezing in the last bit of summer fun before returning to September schedules.

For parents, that often means last minute prepping to ensure everyone and everything is ready for the switch to school. Whether excited or anxious, here are nine tips to help your household make a smooth and hopefully happy transition into the classroom.

SCHOOL DAY REPORT: Get your local forecast for heading back to school.

1. Counting down: If you haven’t already been dropping hints, now is the time. For children enjoying lazy mornings and later evenings, use these last few days to get their internal clocks ready for the new get-up-and-go. Most importantly, talk about the upcoming school year so no one is surprised the night before. Try this crafty countdown to fill the final days with fun while keeping the return to school top of mind.

Need a refresher on some back-to-school messaging? CBC compiled this playlist on themes like getting ready for school, classroom nervousness and pedestrian safety.

2. Preparing first-timers: One of the biggest steps is for preschoolers (and parents of) heading into kindergarten. For a tear-free drop-off, go for a dry run. Drive or walk by the school when you’re running errands and spend a few afternoons enjoying the school’s playground.

For some video reinforcement, TVO offers some school readiness skills through a new children's series premiering this fall. Hi Opie! is about a 5-year-old navigating kindergarten. (Scheduled to air in other provinces.)

First-timer parents, before heading down the hallways, learn some of these do’s and don’ts. These teachers spill on their biggest pet peeves.

3. Shopping for supplies: Yes, the ads have been reminding us to stock up on school supplies since the middle of summer. But for those leaving it until the week before, the key now is to prioritize. Check what you have leftover from the previous year, make a list of essentials and stick to them. Is it time for a new backpack? Get some inspiration from this list.

4. Saving money: The back-to-school shopping list can be overwhelming. Don’t feel like you need to buy everything at once. For clothing, chances are you can still wear the current wardrobe into the fall. Instead, look ahead at what you may lack for the upcoming season and keep your eyes on those items going on sale.

For older children, give them price points before heading into the stores. Hallways aren’t runways, but you want your child to feel comfortable sporting their own style. Let them choose one new outfit, even if it’s cringe-worthy.

5. What’s for lunch? After school snacks? And dinner? Busy families rely on menu planning. Organize your grocery list beforehand to include some healthy snacks and double up on dinner ingredients to fill the freezer and have leftovers for lunch. Gear up on these no-waste lunchbox essentials and adhere to the school’s no nuts policy with one of these peanut butter replacements.

6. Beat the bell: Getting out of the door on time is easier said than done. Create a schedule and post it prior to the first day. If the family is lagging behind, set a timer.

7. Programming: Sign up has already started for activities outside of school. So if the popular programs are full, be prepared with codes and back up options when city-run programs are open for registration. Organize with another family so you can share pick-ups and drop-offs. And don’t forget to schedule some “down” time for everyone.

8. Say cheese: Almost everyone pulls out a camera, okay phone, to commemorate the first day. Instead of snapping a quick shot, let your kids ham it up or start a yearly photo tradition. Here are some ways to capture the moment

9. Keep it light: And not just the backpacks. If you find yourself getting caught up in the back-to-school craze, have a read (and laugh) at this blogger’s comparison of school day prep in the 1970s versus today. Still not smiling? This family finds humour in creating this back-to-school parody Baby Got Class.

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