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!