Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to School: Are your kids ready? You can help.

Sometimes my teenager amazes me. A few days ago he reminded me that we should start getting adjusted to school time. Both of us have been sleeping in - me past 8 a.m., and he past 10. When we have to get up at 6:30 or earlier to get ready for school, it could be a shock to our systems.

That's one tip for getting ready for school: start adjusting the wake-up and bedtimes a few weeks before school starts.

Here's another: take inventory together before school supply shopping. Yes, I said Together. I did this when La Petite was young, and we kept it up for her and for her brother as they outgrew crayons and markers and grew into jump drives and cell phones. Reusing the previous year's scissors and rulers and backpacks saved us a bundle every August. Buying a good quality backpack one year meant I could avoid that cost for the next several autumns, too. Involving the kids meant fewer surprises and less begging. They knew what they already owned and knew what they'd need to buy.

Thinking ahead is a big help. Preparing for waking up early, reading the school handbooks as they arrive in the mail, filling out paperwork as soon as possible: all save time and headaches later. If your paperwork needs a signature, such as a medication form, drop it off at the appropriate doctor's office now. Many physicians are inundated by sports physicals and medication permissions as school starts; give them time to review files and sign the forms.

Obvious though it may sound, read the school's supply lists and follow them. Teachers agonize over these before putting them together; there's a reason for everything. Let me trade my parental blogger hat for my teacher thinking cap for a moment.

Brand names count. I've had to open generic glue bottles many, many times over the years. If the teacher suggests Elmer's, please buy Elmer's. Your child will be relieved to start gluing his projects right away while the others are fighting with their clogged bottles.
Details count. If the teacher requests rulers that measure to the 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch or have centimeters and millimeters on one side, the math or science curriculum probably requires those measurements.
Many teachers color-code notebooks and folders to help kids organize. Seriously, moms and dads, when I ask 28 students to take out their math and I see a sea of blue, I know they're ready for class.
Teachers usually have a few extras, but not enough for the whole class. One of my pet peeves is the child who refuses to bring in a box of crayons, saying, "I can just use yours." No, honey, that's not what the teacher's crayon box is for. That box helps when a child loses his red or his blue and has to borrow one to do the puzzle correctly. If a family can't afford to replace a box of crayons, I have connections to get those supplies donated. But a family who can afford to buy pencils and doesn't? That's simply not acceptable.

Stepping off my soapbox, setting my teacher thinking cap aside, I'm back to being Mom. Making my lists, checking them twice, and remembering to make time to read. After all, it is still summer. Summer means relaxing, and reading is a big part of that. Offline I go, on to the printed page.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get a HarperCollins book set. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Daisy,
I am,thankfully, past the age of buying school supplies, but I remember my frustration at the detailed shopping lists we would get from teachers the first day of school. You have explained the specificity of the teachers' requests in a way I wish they had; it would have saved me some unnecessary frustration. Thanks!

8/11/2010 9:18 AM  
Blogger Earth Muffin said...

You know I'm with you on this one! One thing I'd like to add...if a particular item is NOT on the supply list or is specifically forbidden on that list, DON'T buy it. Teachers have their important reasons for not allowing such items. Every year, I specifically request no mechanical pencils and every year I have at least one student with a mechanical pencil. Why do parents do that? It just starts the year off with the kid seeing that parent doesn't support the teacher, and it starts me off having to be the bad guy by making that child take that pencil home and writing that parent a note stating that mechanical pencils aren't allowed. If that child wants a mechanical pencil (or any other forbidden supply) so badly, then they can use it at home.

8/11/2010 4:14 PM  

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