Back to School Basics

back to basics school

Aahhh, mothers of the world let out a collective sigh, it’s back to school time.  Before we start clicking our heels and planning those long awaited pedicures, and lunches with girlfriends, let’s make sure our kids are settled and off to a great start.

My oldest actually started school a couple of weeks ago because we are on a year-round schedule.  It really is a great schedule for kids, despite the occasional frustration from not having a “normal” summer.  Here’s what I did to help get the new school year running smoothly.

Create learning time

During the weeks we had off between kindergarten and first grade (yes, only 2 weeks!), we did worksheets.

back to basics worksheets

We all start off the summer with lofty goals of spending 15 minutes each day reading, and setting out math problems throughout the day.  Usually we are pretty good about sticking to the schedule until the first family vacation.

It’s now crunch time and setting a learning routine again will certainly help the kids adjust to school faster than just free-wheeling the rest of the days away.  We started “earning” video game time, and other optional entertainment through worksheets.

This helped him remember what he learned in the previous school year (not like he forgot in two weeks, but for your kiddos, I’m sure it’s been longer), and it helps prepare for what will be expected knowledge in the coming weeks.  I bought these workbooks at my trusty dollar store, for yep, a dollar a piece.  Each workbook had lots of pages of math problems, spelling/sight words, and other great worksheets that he could do on his own.

That’s the other great part about having worksheets, you can have some free time again without them whining.  That was a rule I made with “earning entertainment,” every time he whined, I took away a minute.  He earned 5 minutes for every worksheet he completed.  Easy deal.

Buy the necessary school supplies

In Utah they don’t require parents to buy any school supplies in elementary (so the teachers end up buying quite a few of them, my sister is a teacher, it gets expensive).  There are still some necessary items you will want for your kids.  I’m not going to go through the obvious like paper and pencils.  You can think of those on your own.  Here’s some you might not think about at the beginning, but will be thankful you read them here.

  • A bike lock
  • A pencil box
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A water bottle
  • Travel size tissues

If you have a bike lock you will be more likely to send them on their bikes, this encourages exercise and saves you a couple of extra minutes.  The pencil box might have already made your list, but it is a special, small, inexpensive item they can choose and appreciate every day.  Hand sanitizer is a must with all the new germs that go around the classroom.  Most teachers encourage the students to keep a water bottle at their desk to avoid unnecessary trips to the drinking fountain.

Avoid the unnecessary school supplies 

You can avoid buying the stuff that is just fluff.  Typically they don’t need a new backpack every year.  Typically, you can pass the crayons and markers each year (unless you stock up when they are on sale to make fabulous pinterest crafts later on).  My oldest’s birthday is just a couple of months after school starts so the only new clothes he gets are socks and underwear and I save the clothes people will see for his birthday presents.  Is that lame?

Get to know the Teacher


Attend the Back to School Night (in our case it was the first morning of school).  Get to know the teacher, understand how they will be handling behavior issues, what is expected of the student in regards to homework.  More importantly, understand what is expected of you as the parent.  Let’s face it, teachers are human and they will pick favorites.  If you want your student to be on their “favorites list” be a willing participant.  If you follow the teacher’s rules, more than likely your student will follow the rules.  If you have an open communication with the teacher, she will be more understanding if your student is having a bad day.

My mom always made sure we knew we were guilty until proven innocent as far as school behavior was concerned.  She always took the side of the teacher.  If she felt the teacher was unfair, she would wait to discuss her concerns when we were out of earshot.

Make sure your students understand that the teacher is in control and has your complete trust.  Teachers need all the help they can get.  They really do have your child’s best interests at heart, and genuinely are doing their best.  They are human, they can make mistakes, but expressing your concerns in a civilized, controlled setting can accomplish far more than taking what your kids say at face value.

Well, that’s it, that’s my list of how to start the school year successfully.  Enjoy the last few days of summer, fill the days with fun, and don’t let the kids see your count-down charts!

I found a couple of great ways to make a great first impression with teachers on pinterest.

One of my friends that is a teacher commented on facebook she would love any of these ideas!

And if you want to start stocking the pantry for all those home-packed lunches, here are some healthy alternatives (pb & j can only go so far)

Are  you ready for Mother’s Day, ahem, the first day of school?  What do you do to cram in learning before it’s too late?

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About Anne Banks

Hi, I'm Anne! I am an active learner on this crazy road called life. I love learning about anything, but currently spend most of my study time researching parenting tips and improving health. I get excited about crafting, reading, running, baking, and spending time with my three crazy boys (in no particular order, and sometimes at the same time)! I love sharing what helps me get through the day, and I hope my tips help you!

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