Transitioning from a carefree summer to a structured fall when kids are back in school can be stressful for kids and parents alike. In our house, we use a few easy organizational tricks to ensure our little learners start the day off right.
For us, it’s all about preparation and work ahead as much as we can. That means letting our six little helpers contribute to making our household run smoothly. Whether you have your own gaggle or just one, use these kid-friendly tips to make tackling the school year less stressful and more fun!
1. Everyone Pitches In!
Our family is a small army, so everyone gets a job, even for simple tasks like putting toys back in their place, or picking up after arts and crafts. You can make this clean-up fun with simple tweaks; ask each child to pick up five things, or make it a race to see who can clean up the fastest. With a little added excitement, that “huge mess” will be a thing of the past—until tomorrow, of course. Our favorite “cleaning supplies” are the Learning Resources Clean It Set– endless hours of fun!
Mornings are naturally hectic, so we try to prep tomorrow’s meals and snacks the night before. While it’s always helpful to be at least a day ahead, you can gain even more time with a couple of easy tricks. Washing fruit for tomorrow’s lunch? Keep the water running a little longer and wash enough for a couple days. Try cutting all your vegetables at once and placing them in sealed containers for each day of the week. As you work, keep a running list of what you need from the store so you won’t ever run out of everything at once. These few minutes at night add up, and will save you valuable time in the morning and throughout the week! The girls love to help us “prep” as well by using their Lunch Basket play food from Learning Resources.
Children love structure, and they love it even more when it’s something they can see. Help your kids visualize their own schedules with they help of a simple dry erase board or some construction paper. On each child’s personal schedule, start by outlining daily occurrences (for example, “8AM: Brush Teeth, 12:00PM Nap, 7:00PM Get Ready For Bed”), then highlight the “bigger” things that may be happening in the coming weeks. The more they know, the more they’re likely to stick to the schedule. After they get the hang of it, you can even reward them for a week of good work by an extra trip to the park or an extra 15 minutes of play. We use the Time Activity Set often to help teach the girls all about time and scheduling
4. Let Them Choose Their Clothes
This one is fun, but it’s also the best tip for creating a positive back-in-school experience for you and your kids. Before going to bed each night, we lay out the clothes we might want to wear the next day. Then, we let our kids pick out what they want to wear. In addition to the fun of watching what crazy combinations come from little minds, this is also a great way to gain insight into how your child selects and (more importantly) reacts to what he or she wants to wear. Sure, you might have to make a few adjustments (“I don’t know if those flippers really go with that dress”) but when you let your kids make their own decisions, you’re empowering little minds and helping eliminate tomorrow’s morning hurdle in a single step!
5. Get to Bed Early
Why is it that kids always seem to have a swell of energy right around bedtime? We may never know the answer to that mystery, but what we do know is that getting your kiddos to bed early is one way of getting around this night time occurrence. We start early every night, and get everyone ready with enough time to brush teeth, deal with last-minute hunger, and get our nightly stories in. This new early bird schedule may be met with opposition at first, especially with older kids, but stick to it! This new pattern will quickly set in and your child will start to understand how an earlier bedtime routine doesn’t seem so bad after all. One of the ways we ease the girls into sleep mode is by turning on their Shining Stars projector– which beams the stars onto their walls and ceiling and makes them feel super cozy.
Learning is Where We Play: