By Jodie Lynn
As I was working inside the house the other day, I heard an unusual sound, though strangely it was somewhat familiar. I quickly stretched my legs, barely getting a glimpse of something turning around in the neighborhood. It was large and very bright. Oh, a school bus.
Can you even believe it is time for the school buses to make their trial runs? This is the first real sign of forthcoming peace (other than the recent school supply list). While some, probably very few, parents will be sad to see their kiddos return to school, you can bet your sweet bippy that I am not one of them.
I hadn't smiled so big at the sight of the bus since, well, I don't know when. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but by the end of the summer, I've just about had enough. Anyway, the bus signifies a ritual and means peace and quiet for me.
I mean, when the kids go back to school, I have peace and quiet for a few hours in the morning. I'm not ashamed of saying it. Besides, they are bored to tears and I am tired of trying to think of things for them to do.
Some parents will wait to the last minute to get everything in order but it need not be that way. Here are a few tips to squash back-to-school stress... before it gets the best of you.
1. Get organized by visiting the school and meeting the teachers. Most of the preschools and elementary schools offer this as well as some middle schools. It's great because you get an idea of what the school year will be like and for the rest of the term, whenever your child talks to you about school you can place a face with the name. It also offers the perfect opportunity to ask a few questions, like what to do about a school planner. Some schools offer their own school planer for the kids to write all of their assignments in. Some schools make it mandatory for kids to use the school planner. Since every company on the face of the earth is making highly appealing, dazzlingly decorated planners for kids, please ask this important question. It will save discussions, tempers and blaming as soon as the child tries to convince you that her favorite character planner is a "must-have-or-I-will-die" one that all her friends are getting. If you ask the school, and she does have to use the one that they supply, you can tell your child right off the bat that the school wants all of the children to use its planner and then go on to the next topic.
2. Grab an extra school supply list. Most of the time, they are at various stores. Parents can just pick them up as they enter. Hold off buying anything until after you meet the teacher. Show the list to her and ask if there is any addition or elimination, and change it accordingly.
3. Get the teacher's e-mail address. This is how most of the schools communicate in today's society. In addition, ask for a contact number. These come in handy in case you have a question about anything at all.
4. Take a trial run on getting up early at least five days before school. This helps with solidifying the new schedule and is proven to help prevent cranky kids.
5. Practice bus stop routes and bus stop etiquette. If your child is riding the bus, don't forget to walk with them to the bus stop and describe what type of behavior the school expects of your child at the bus stop and on the bus. If your child is not at least in the fourth grade, you may want to stay there, if possible, until the bus comes. After the age of 10, he is not going to want you there, so train well up to that age. Never leave your child at the bus stop alone. Make sure other children are there. If there is a known bully, stick around but not right by your child or he will get teased and picked on.
6. If you take your child to school for an early arrival program for working parents, make sure you get to meet the director of this program and ask for typed rules. Go over them with a fine tooth comb so you will know exactly what to expect: arrival time, meals served, activities, and exception to rules (must go five days a week or lose spot in the program?).
7. If you are planning changes with anything, anything at all, have a family meeting at least one week before school. This is the perfect time to implement a new school plan for the new year. For example, new homework rules, activities (not too many, I hope), as well as when and what to eat before school and afterwards. This is especially true if your child goes to an after school program. Although many of the schools are cutting back on the handy chip, soda and candy machines, others have new ones.
8. Make sure you get a student handbook before school. If your school does not offer this until after school starts, call and ask about the dress codes. Finally, schools are changing the dress codes, especially for short shorts, low cut tops, low-riding jeans, and short skirts. Many have had it with the "you know who" look and cutting back to a somewhat of a decent level of modest dressing. (Now, if we can only get the manufacturers to adhere to this.)
9. Make plans for a tutor right away. If you know your child will need a tutor, ask the teacher if she is available for tutoring. If she does not offer tutoring, ask for recommendations. Don't wait until your child is failing and everyone is taken. Private tutors are still the best in my book. They are not at all as expensive as most of the learning centers, especially if it is a retired teacher.
10. Get your carpool team together now! Most schools will help with this. They actually have a list of parents who want to carpool listed by zip code and a phone number. This is especially important for working parents or for any parent who wants to drive their children to school as opposed to riding the bus. In fact, some areas do not have school bus service.
11. Buy a family planner. Purchase a family planner to get the whole gang organized. This will save your sanity - I PROMISE! There are tons on the market. One that passed my Family Testers with flying colors is Family Organizer, by Amy Knapp http://thefamilyorganizer.com/ and is available on amazon.com, Walmart and at Target. It really works wonders!
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