Planning for the back-to-school transition

Published 2:29 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

By LISA PHILLIPS / Guest Columnist

Everywhere you look, “Back to School” is prominent in office supply stores, grocery stores, bookstores, clothing stores and even the yogurt shops! While most businesses are excited with the frenzy of supply lists and the revenue they produce, many parents and students are dreading the arrival of the first day of school.

Here are five tips to help with the transition from sleeping late and relaxed schedules to alarm clocks, homework and routine.

-Establish routines: It is proven that children thrive with expected routines and schedules. Clearly communicate your expectations for bedtime, homework, television and computer surfing at the beginning of the school year. While teachers will be setting up classroom expectations, it is important to carry through priorities that are important to the family at home.

-Command central: Be ready for the influx of papers that will come home on a daily basis. Establish one place where your children put papers for you to review, sign and return. Set up three folders: immediate, action and reference. Immediate is anything that needs attention right away; action may be the paperwork for the parent-teacher conference at the end of the month; and reference may be the school handbook or bus schedule. Keep reference papers, knowing you may not need to look at them everyday.

-Prepare the night before: Get in the habit of establishing a nighttime routine that includes packing backpacks, laying out clothes for the next day, finding shoes, completing homework or other tasks.

-Establish a place for homework: Set up a workspace that is cheerful and well lit. Consider using a bulletin board or white board to post a calendar with homework assignments, after-school events, and sports activities. The older the child is, the more input they will want in their study environment. Some children need a quiet place to study; some prefer a parent’s interaction in the kitchen. Ask the teacher for guidance in the best way to support your child with his or her study habits. Also realize a bad habit (such as staying up late or not eating breakfast) may need to be broken in order for a positive change.

-Watch the extras: A balance of school, sports, social activities and down time is important for academic success and stress levels. A parent’s daily pace is totally different from a child’s.

By giving clarity to expectations and ensuring communication on everyone’s part, going back to school can be an exciting time for the family as well as retailer.

Lisa Phillips is the owner of SimpleWorks. She can be reached at or 205-981-7733.