The start of a new school year can be a time of excitement for families whether it's their child's first or final year! No doubt as a parent, you've probably already knocked out some of your back-to-school shopping for clothes and supplies—but new shoes aren't the only thing it takes to start the year off on the right foot! Many kids flourish with this transition back into the classroom after a fun summer, but others may naturally be a bit nervous to start a different routine and be surrounded by new faces. Parents may also feel overwhelmed with ensuring everything is handled before the first day. So, here are a few things to do before then that can help your family start the new school year well.
Visit Your Child's School
Take advantage of an open house session to learn more about what to expect for your child's upcoming academic year. Walk around the building to get familiar with the school's layout. You'll also be able to find out whether there are any revised policies you should be aware of like a change in dress code or safety procedures. If your family is new to the area, visiting the school will also be helpful for a variety of reasons; your child can make new friends, you can ensure you've filled out all the necessary forms, and you may even find out about more programs and events that are offered throughout the year. Perhaps one of the most important reasons to visit, especially during an open house, is to meet your child's teacher. You and your child can get to know their teacher and learn more about their expectations in the classroom which can help set your child up for even more success!
Research the School Online
Nowadays, almost every school has a website and presence on social media. Researching these platforms can provide you with basic information such as academic calendars and curriculum. These features can help you stay focused on your child's progress in the classroom, but can also help with family time on the weekends. For example, if you find out your child is studying the rainforest, you can plan a trip to the museum. Following their social media accounts may also help you find more resources like parent groups and ways to track your child's progress.
Make Plans for Before and After the Bell
Have a plan for before and after school every day of the week. This includes planning for activities like school clubs, tutoring, sports, and staying at school for care versus coming home to a babysitter. The time after school and before dinner especially can seem like a long time for your child, so keeping them in a safe and engaging atmosphere can give your family peace of mind. The Y offers extracurricular activities like our Elementary Before and After School program; before- and after-school care for middle schoolers in Lake, Osceola, and Orange counties; Youth Sports, and additional programming for middle and high schoolers like Teen Achievers and Links 2 Learning.
Figure Out Transportation
Will you drop your child off each morning and get them in the afternoon? Another idea is coordinating a schedule and carpooling with friends. If neither of those options will work for your family—at least on a daily basis—sit down with your child to help them memorize their bus schedule. Kids should be confident in where their stop is and what time the bus will pick them up. If the bus stop is farther from home, consider having your child walk to the stop with other classmates in the neighborhood. Keep in mind routes may change, so don't assume the timing and route are the same as the previous school year. No matter what you choose, make sure your child feels confident in what to expect when getting to and getting home from school!
Stock Up Your Pantry
First, you need to decide if your child will be packing lunch every day, a few times each week, or will be eating in the cafeteria. If they're eating school lunch each day, check the school's website for a menu and ensure a payment plan is updated. When it comes to eating at home, fill your pantry with healthy snacks, lunchbox essentials, and other go-to foods. As part of our commitment to Healthy Living, our very own Chef Gary has a variety of kid-friendly healthy recipes like Leftover Lunchbox Tacos and Muffin Tin Tostadas that are great for lunch throughout the week. When it comes to snacks for the lunchbox or after school, Chef Gary recommends the following
- Cut up fresh berries and include a yogurt cup so your child can make their own parfait
- Include a container of peanut butter to eat with crackers, celery, or an apple
- You and your child can create your own trail mix with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits
- Add avocado slices to their sandwich for a boost of nutrients
- Opt for oil-based dressings instead of creamy or fat-free dressings in salads or wraps
Check out our healthy recipes and get more inspiration for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and even beverages!
Get Your Home School-Ready
Help your child adjust to the upcoming change in routine by preparing your home. Have a designated space by the front or back door to store backpacks Whether your child is doing hybrid or fully in-person schooling, it's still beneficial to have a space in your home that your child can use for homework in the evenings. Preferably, this would be more of an open area like a family room or dining room so you're able to monitor their progress and answer their questions. However, if they prefer to do homework in their bedroom, consider removing gaming systems and televisions to help them stay focused.
Speaking of their bedroom, easing your child back into a bedtime routine should be started before the school year actually begins. It's recommended that you try moving up your child’s bedtime by 10–15 minutes for at least one week so they're used to going to bed earlier. This can help ensure your child will feel more lively in the mornings and aren't struggling to stay awake in class.
We want to wish all of the families within our Central Florida community an excellent start to the school year!