School supplies have been on the shelves for weeks, and back to school sales seem to be everywhere, but beyond the usual (buy school supplies, make sure school clothes fit, have a backpack ready to go, get used to going to bed/waking up on time, filling out forms, etc), consider getting your family ready for school in other ways as well.
Talk with your kids about goals for the school year
Encourage your children write letters to themselves about what they hope this year will be like for them. What do they hope they will learn? What do they hope they will accomplish? Make sure to talk with them about your hopes for them for the year (maybe you could write letters to your children that outline these ideas). Many children wrongfully assume they know what their parents want from/for them when it comes to school, which leads to miscommunication and disappointment later. Is math what’s most important to you? What is the role of being a good classmate and friend? What kinds of things do you hope to hear from the teacher at conferences? At the end of the year, you could reflect on these goals together and assess how the year went according to these guidelines.
Come up with a game plan for success
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” With that in mind, consider now how you and your children can work together to have a successful school year by planning for it now. Would it help your children for them to have a dedicated space for their homework or reading? What kinds of questions do they want you ask after the school day? What foods should be in their lunches to power them through the day? What will they want for an after school snack? What would work best for your family as an after school routine? How should you spend your weekends? Perhaps have a family meeting where everyone can share what would help make this coming year successful.
Whether during the school year, on a school vacation, or rounding out summer break, it is always a great time to read. Plan a visit to the library to get enough books to last you through to school starts while your children have complete autonomy over what they read (there is still time to join their Summer of Adventure program!). While you are there, get some books for yourself as well; children learn from the modeling of their parents, so it sets a great example for children to see their parents reading. Perhaps do your own book club with each of you choosing a book along a certain theme and setting a time to discuss or just build “family reading time” into your schedule, showing the value and importance it has.
Cultivate positive habits
As kids get older, have them start taking on more responsibilities such as packing their own lunches, choosing their own clothes, setting up their own playdates, and choosing healthy snacks. Work with them the night before a program or trip to make sure they have everything they need (Are the backpacks ready to go for summer camp? Are the necessary pool toys set aside for tomorrow’s trip? Are their lunches and snacks already packed? Do they have their baseball uniforms ready to go for tomorrow’s game?). These are all good habits year-round, but they will be especially helpful to make mornings run more smoothly once the school year begins.
Enjoy the rest of the summer
While “back to school” is certainly in the air, it’s not here quite yet, so don’t rush it. Use the remaining weeks as a time to slow down, connect with your family, and enjoy time together. Take a few more trips to the pool or one more trip to the mountains. Go to a baseball game or take the family to that park you’ve been eyeing. Learn to make ice cream or popsicles to enjoy as the sun goes down. While summer might feel like it’s just about over, enjoy it while you can.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” As those pages on the calendar fall away leading to the start of a new school year, consider how to make the most of the end of the summer season while meaningfully preparing for the fall. For you, what is your purpose during this time?