Is it that time of year again?
Back-to-school can be both hectic and encouraging. Starting a fresh year with new tools and a hankering for education is the highlight of the season. But what are some things we can do to help ensure our children get the education they need, the correct tools and equipment, and all in a light and fun atmosphere?
We’ve all been like a deer in headlights come that Monday/Tuesday morning when we’re scrambling to get back in the swing of things. We’ve compiled a list of things to things of ahead of time and ensure you’re setting up the year for success.
These tips are here to help with just that!
Breakfast is the first meal of the day and as such is the jolt of nutrition that’ll get you through until lunch time rolls around. But, it’s morning, and that time of day is a scramble as it is. So, what can you do?
Overnight oats are an insanely easy way to get valuable nutrition, in any jar you’ve got laying around. Their a cinch to make and involve only two ingredients, although you can add more stuff to your liking. Start by putting equal parts oats and water into a jar. For the most basic “overnight oats” you’re already done – just don’t forget to take it out and grab a spoon on your way to school (or work!) Do you find it a bit boring? Try milk or milk + yogurt instead of water. Still not exhilarating enough? Add your favorite variety of nuts, fruits, nut butters, chia seeds, cinnamon, or even chocolate!
You can mix it up any way you want to stay away from “boring” and here are some classic recipes to get you going!
If you’ve never had chia pudding, it’s a must try. If you don’t mind the texture, then this easy go to will prove nutritionally dense, easy-peasy to make, and you can just grab and go in the morning! Chia seeds helps fill you up, keep you full, and pack your body with valuable nutrients, including fiber, protein, healthy fats, calcium, phosphorous, and many more. To make chia pudding, you just need a milk of your choice (I enjoy almond milk, but you can use any: cow, coconut, soy, etc.), chia seeds, vanilla extract, and maple syrup (or any sweetener you prefer). Blend the milk, vanilla extract, sweetener, and any added (optional) flavors. Once blended, whisk in the chia seeds and place the container in the fridge overnight.
Once morning comes, you can separate into different, easy-grab 8oz containers. Check out this easy recipe here and these awesome variations! Remember, you can use ANYTHING as the optional flavor – or omit for the classic chia pudding taste! I’ve added chopped almonds and cherries to one recipe and mangos to another!
Another make now, eat later recipe are breakfast muffins – no, not he fast food kind. These are easy, because there are so many ways you can make and store them! Freezer? No problem! These easy-grab and go items will make any morning nutrient dense and fulfilling! From savory to mildly sweet, here are a TON of recipes, but you can also do a simple Google search and find one that suits your preferences.
With these three ideas, you can make one recipe and provide breakfast every day of the week, plus grab one for yourself!
Don’t have your back-to-school supply list yet? Oftentimes, schools and districts will update their websites before sending them out, whether snail-mail style or electronically. We know basics, like paper, pens, the newest Texas Instrument graphing calculator, and notebooks, but did you know some lists include EXPO markers, earbuds “for technology”, a USB drive, and a pocket dictionary? Tooling up can help ensure success!
Bonus Tip! Inventorying existing school supplies is a great way to ensure you have everything you need, while not adding more to the pile! Knowing these things weeks ahead of time can also help you better budget for summer activities.
Ensure you’re pre-registered for any upcoming organized sports. Oftentimes, sports that start at or around the beginning of the school year, require you to pre-register during the summer – which is easily forgotten in the hubbub of vacations and other school preparations.
New to the area or school? Why not tour and connect with your new principle, teachers, and other faculty? Parents and students connecting with faculty provides an excellent opportunity for one to meet the other and put names and children to faces. If you’re unable to meet face-to-face, try looking up the teacher on the school’s website! Just another way to put names and faces together. Alongside touring, sometimes children get nervous with new surroundings, people, and places and trying to navigate crowded hallways can be overwhelming. Exploring the school while it’s empty familiarizes children with their surroundings and better grounds their sense of environment.
Decide upon a planner or organization process. The best part about starting a new year, is the strive to do it better than last year. To help your children best strategize their time, especially around before and after school activities, you may consider a home planner or scheduling app or notebook. Tasks slip our minds all the time, so why not offer a safe place for those tasks and homework to live? This way, they can schedule our and set reminders for upcoming tests, projects, or just day-to-day assignments. Planners with daily & weekly to-do lists are the best for keeping on top of it all!
On that note, creating a family calendar, so your child knows and can visualize upcoming vacations, days off, and family events.
Bonus Tip! Determining your organizational process and sticking to it will not only aid school success, but adult successes, too! Check out these home work stations and consider areas around the house to dedicate to “learning areas”.
Goal setting is a learned attribute that enhances productivity and one’s sense of effectiveness and achievement. So, why not impart this easy tool and get them goal-ing? Whether it’s to clean their bedroom once a week (or once a month), read a book every two weeks, or finish their homework every night before dinner, you’re helping your child create a new sense of self and personal achievement. Remember, the goals should be both realistic and attainable. You can even work these into your child’s weekly chores!
School isn’t always about the schoolwork. Creating blocks of time for fun and recreation will help just as much as anything else on this list. Learning proper social skills, team functionality, and positive recreation are awesome ways to encourage self-learning!
Discuss with your family purchasing lunch at school or bringing lunches from home, or a combination thereof. While bringing food from home is often healthier and sometimes cheaper, it’s all dependent on what your child will eat – and only you best know your child and their habits! Deciding as a family not only brings your child into the process, but makes them part of the resolution. Raising good decision makers is a learnt skill and initiating the conversation teaches them the parts that go into a whole decision: stopping to think, evaluating all possibilities, and creating a pros and cons list. If you’re doing the hybrid method, you can also request weekly menus from your school (or research them online.)
Create an after-school snack shelf, drawer, or cart! Teaching healthy habits is hard, especially when you aren’t the one able to watch them. A snack area can encourage healthier eats, and can be refilled whenever you have time. Consider offering dried nuts, fruits, granola bars, or pre-packed veggies! You could put this near your “lunchbox storage” so they know where to put their lunchboxes after the school day’s over. You can also hot-glue magnets to plastic tumblers and put them on the front of your refrigerator. This will allow your child to reuse the cup for water, without having to drag a chair to get into the cupboards!
And, finally, after all that don’t forget to take pictures. Times flies by too fast, and we don’t want to miss out on all the special times, like our child’s first day of kindergarten, high school, first dance, or the winning score at their soccer game!
Don’t have time for everything on this list? That’s all right! Pick a few that work with your family and time constraints and accomplish! Like setting out your clothes before the start of a new day, planning ahead saves time, reduces unnecessary stress, and mentally prepares you for the day ahead.
What are your favorite back-to-school hacks? How does your family prepare for the back-to-school rush?