ABC’s of Back to School Preparation

Assignment: Get your whole family ready for the start of the new school year. Deadline: Tuesday, September 3, the first day of school for most Ottawa kids. (Aim for a gold star!)

Breakfast: Make it a priority. Boil eggs and put them in the fridge along with yogurt, milk, cheese and juice. Bake muffins, both sweet and savoury, and put them in the freezer. They’re great to have available for busy mornings. Have plenty of fresh fruit on the table, along with whole grain cereals, granola, toast and bagels. When you do have time, veggie omelettes, french toast, multi grain pancakes and oatmeal topped with dried fruit and nuts are all packed with nutrition to help keep kids going through the day.

Calculator? Check. Coloured pencils? Yes. Compass? Got it. At the end of June, a lot of kids were given a list of essentials needed for the classroom this coming school year. If that’s the case for your youngster, don’t wait to shop for the supplies. When there’s no list, stick with buying the basics and wait to purchase major items, because the teacher may request certain types or brands of products.

Discuss rules, concerns and plans. Bedtime, chores, homework time, after-school arrangements and activities can all be negotiated. Is there anything your youngster is worried about, such as a new school, a bully or a difficult subject? Talk about it and do some creative problem solving together.

Establish back-to-school routines a few days before classes start. Have a set dinnertime, as well as earlier bed and wakeup times. Ensure the bedtime routine is positive and comforting. It can include organizing items for the next day, setting out clothes, bath time and story time.

Family fun helps ease the transition from one season to the next. Spend time together visiting a museum, taking a hike and playing board games. Let the kids each choose a theme for a meal and get them to help prepare it. All of these occasions provide opportunities to talk about the new school year and what’s to come.

Get involved at school. Whether you plan to be a regular classroom helper, to hand out the slices on pizza day or to sign up for parent duty on school trips, involvement is a great way to get to know your children’s teachers, classmates and school community.

Homework and Hygiene are both priorities. Establish a quiet spot for doing homework and ensure phones and gadgets are off limits until it’s done. If your children are younger, check to ensure homework is complete and sign the agenda. If your tween is approaching puberty, make hygiene products part of your back-to-school shopping trip. New shampoo, body wash or shower gel, deodorant, a new toothbrush and toothpaste will come in handy. You might be walking through clouds of Axe for a few months, but it’s a phase that should pass.

Immersion (French Immersion) is very popular in the capital city. If your children are enrolled and yours is not a bilingual home, encourage them by continuing the immersion after school. It can be fun. Drive to Gatineau once in a while to go shopping or to dine in a restaurant. Let the kids lead the conversation. Head to the library to borrow French books and, as a special treat, plan a trip to Montreal or Quebec City.

Jobs Teens and their families often grapple with whether a part-time job is okay during the school year. A lot of kids are saving for post-secondary school and they all like to have spending money. But work should not get in the way of education. If hours on the job are interfering with study time or if marks aren’t where they should be, kids are better off to put all their focus on school.

Kindergarten Is your neighbourhood school offering full-day kindergarten? The public school board is offering it at 76 schools this September, while the Catholic school board is offering it at 45 schools. You may choose to have your child attend only half days, but you’ll have to arrange transportation home.

Labels Don’t want your kids’ new gym shoes or lunch boxes or pencil cases to go missing? Put labels on everything.

Make back-to-school time a celebration. Let your kids each choose a new outfit to wear on the first day and make a special dinner so you can all sit down together and chat about the new beginnings.

New school? Check the website to confirm the start time and to find out other details about the school community. If possible, take your child for a school visit before classes start so that he or she will know the way around.

Optician Get the kids’ eyes tested before they head back to class. You don’t want them to have trouble seeing information presented at the front of the room.

Photos Before the kids hop on the bus or head down the street, take a few pictures. When you do this annually, it’s a fun reminder of how they’re growing and changing.

Questions, quizzes and the quest for learning can continue right through the summer. Do lots of reading together and get the kids to help with grocery shopping and cooking. That way they can practice their reading and math skills. For rainy days, grade-specific activity books and learning games are fun.

Register the kids for their favourite sports or afterschool activities. They look forward to getting back into action.

Special needs If your child has special needs, call the school the week before school starts and talk to the resource teacher. Discuss the IEP (Individual Education Plan), confirm supports and find out the names of the teachers. If it’s a new school, arrange to take your youngster for a visit so there are no surprises on the first day.

Teacher Introduce yourself and your child to the teacher. If your kids are in elementary grades and your schedule allows, drive them to school the first morning and stick around for a few minutes. Usually, you’re able to say hello to the teachers and to meet a few of the parents.

Uneasy about the return to making school lunches? You’re not alone. Talk to the kids about options and get them involved in preparing or packing the food. They’ll learn about making healthy choices.

Vocalize If there are challenging circumstances at home, if your child is anxious about a new classmate or if there is anything that might impact his or her functioning at school, speak up. Talk it over with the teacher and advocate on your child’s behalf.

Wallet During the first week of school, kids come home with forms to be filled out, along with fees to be paid. That’s the standard, annual procedure. Budget accordingly.

Xylitol and Xanthan Gum If you struggle to pronounce the words on the ingredients list, put down the package. Instead, pull out the fresh veggies and fruit for after-school snacks.

Yearbook If the school is selling yearbooks, allow your child to get one. A few decades from now it will be a treasure from the past.

Zombie If you feel like a zombie for the first few days of the school year, you’ll get over it. The more organized you are, the sooner you’ll adjust to the new pace.

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