Blair's Back to School Tips

Back to School !!

The West Coast is gearing up for the return to school too. And, because Blair at WiseCraft has been at this 'game' a bit longer than us, we asked her for any unique insights for the Back to School routine, and what it means to her family. Here is what she suggests:

the desk and pencil box

Argggghhh, homework. Its fun for the little kids maybe? during the first year of school (its big kid stuff), but after that, let's face it, most kids could do without it. Last year, my husband and I began working with the kids on making a habit of doing all their homework at their desks. Just like eating meals at the table, we felt it was important to create a routine around the act of doing homework. Their desks are quiet, well-lit, and are close to any reference materials and books they might need (the computer they use, when needed, is in our family room). We recently did our back to school supply shopping (which, I must confess, is fun for all of us!). Even a preschool would enjoy the chance to take a trip to the office supply store to pick out cool pencils, erasers, tape, and writing paper. We recently cleaned out and set the kid's desks up for studying. Everything they might need is here. Erasers, rulers, pencils, staplers, tape (there's never enough tape). My son, who is 8 and entering the 2nd grade, tends to get fidgety while sitting at his desk, so I included a squeezy foam ball that he holds in his hand and squeeze while he is doing his homework, really helps keep him focused.

'To Do' morning chart

How will these kids ever get out the door in the morning on time? I recently read a brilliant idea in a magazine that a creative way to keep kids on task on weekday mornings is to make a music play list that's the length of the time you have to get ready in the morning (60 minutes, for example). Using the songs as cues can remind them of how much longer they have and keep them on task. We may have to try this. I also have had the kids draw a picture to remind them of what they need to do and take with them. All these little tricks keep them on track and they don't have to hear me nag so much!

The breakfast(s) of champions. I recently spent some time with the kids going through a couple of cookbooks we have here to pick out some breakfast ideas. They each marked ones they'd like to eat with little tabs and promised not to wince when I served them. You see, I don't know about you, but I quickly run out of variety, and my kids eat more (and better) if I keep it interesting when I can. And breakfast is tough, we're all rushing most of the time. There are tons of cookbooks out there, ones we like are Cooking Fun for Kids by Rae Grant and Real Food for Healthy Kids by Tanya Wenman Steel.
Afternoon Tea. When we get home after school each day, my kids and I have "afternoon tea". This is simple, we have either herbal tea or a "steamer" (warm milk with a little vanilla syrup added) in a special teacup, and some sort of small snack (I try to make it a fruit or vegetable with a protein like cheese or peanut butter). Its simple, predictable (my kids love routine), and we are able to spend a few minutes catching up together before they head up to do their homework, or just decompress from a full day. I'm sad to say that as the kids get busier, we're not able to do this as often as we used to, which makes the times we can do it even more special.

We'd love to hear what types of things your family does either to get ready for school (at any age) or does during the school year that works well. All good tips are welcome!


Heather said...

Hello, I came over from Wisecraft :)

I like these ideas, they are really good. School starts at 7:50 am for us, which is so early. I like to get things ready the evening before. I make lunches, and put them in the fridge, I make sure all of the homework is in backpacks, and shoes are by the front door. It helps so much! I have a 2nd and 3rd grader, and it can be crazy in the mornings if I don’t have it all ready to go. Another thing, I take them to the grocery store on the weekend and let them get snacks. When we come home, we keep the snacks in the cupboard and they look forward to having them later in the week.

I like the desk idea, we need to do that.

Charity said...

We also try to be organized the night before, so that it's just a matter of getting ourselves ready & out the door in the am. I LOVE the ideas of a music playlist for the morning, as well as the afternoon tea session. I think we'll try both of these - thanks for the ideas! :o)

Deanna said...

Hi, I am a mom of four with a 2nd grader, 2 preschoolers and a 2yr old along for the ride. I daily pack 3 lunches so to streamline I try to have the egg salad ready for one and the boys like the frozen pb&j's (I buy Sam's prepackaged stuff saved for school only such as the sandwiches and sunchips and pretzels and string cheese). We try to pick out and lay out clothes the night before. For breakfast they manage their own cheerios when they get up (all of them get up on their own at 6am) and I try to have their little bowls of yogurt waiting in the fridge (I use stoneyfield in a tub and scoop them into those little take and toss bowls with lids). I heat frozen whole wheat waffles when I get up and spread with strawberry cream cheese. After school is designated snack time and my oldest does his homework at the kitchen table while having his snack...often homemade granola bars and/or fruit. Then the 2 oldest practice piano, then as a reward they get 30 mins on Wii or webkinz. Then we hang out til dinner. And somewhere in we squeeze church, cub scouts, sports and piano lessons. :)