It’s right around the corner now: That time of year every parent waits for. Back to school season.
No offense to summer, but it’s…long. (Not to mention hot.) Of course, it’s nice to have some family downtime, no homework to keep track of, fewer lunches to pack and buses to catch in the morning. But it isn’t easy to keep the kids busy and active for two months, while you’re still fulfilling work obligations that don’t pause for school vacation. Now, those summer days are winding down, the kids are wrapping up their summer activities, and you’re all gearing up for another academic year.
Before the school year hits again, though, it’s a great time to step back, take a breather, and get your mind (and home) ready for the year to come. Our back-to-school warm-up is a good place to start. Here are four more things we suggest every parent does before summer’s officially over:
Clear out last year’s school work.
For most of us, the papers that come home from school tend to pile up throughout the year. Between the assignments, art projects, report cards, field trip forms, and other school communications, it can feel like you’re drowning in paper. The end of summer is a good time to dig through, set aside the truly important stuff (that history paper you’re especially proud of; the short story you want your grandchildren to read one day; the self-portrait they worked so hard on—whatever has meaning for you and your family), and recycle the rest. (Yes, we said it. Toss those things.) If you really can’t bring yourself to lose them forever, you can always go digital with a free scanning app. More specialized apps like Keepy offer extra levels of organization and share-ability.
Check in (with your kid).
Have your kid’s likes and dislikes changed over the last year? Maybe they’ve found a new passion in school or out, or their long-term goals for themselves have changed. End of summer is a nice time to chat about the year to come. What kinds of things do they want to focus on in school this year? What activities are they interested in trying outside of school? What do they want you to do to support them this year? Start with the stuff they’re great at: With younger children, you could try an activity like this strengths chain; with older kids, ask what they think their strengths are, and go from there.
Prepare to meet the new teachers.
Using the information from your parent-child check-in, make a plan for how you want to introduce yourself and your child to next year’s teachers. Consider filling out our Getting to Know My Child form, or just thinking about what you want to share about your child and what you hope to see them accomplish this year. Teachers might not ask for this information, but it can’t hurt to offer it. It’ll give them a head start getting to know your kid, and help them understand what matters to your family. And let teachers know how you’d like to be in touch, too. Provide not just your current contact information, but your preferred contact information—are text, email, or calls easiest for you? What times of day are you available to connect? The more the teachers know, the better you’ll be able to communicate throughout the year.
Check out (for yourself).
When was the last time you did something just for yourself? (Easier said than done, we know.) But the start of a new school year gets so busy so fast, so the end-of-summer days are a good time to give yourself a few hours to take a breather. Parents do so much, all year round, to give their kids every chance at success. A solo movie, a pedicure, some fresh air (hey, sometimes even a trip to Target alone feels like a break)—whatever works for you. You deserve a minute to recharge.