Preparing for Back to School

by Major Mom

back-to-schoolCan you believe it’s already time to start thinking about the kids going back to school?  It will be here before we know it.  It’s best to get prepared now to make the transition of going back to school that much easier. Consider implementing one or all of these tips to make this school year the most successful it can be.

  • Establish routines. Summertime tends to be less structured than the school year. Children stay up later, wake later and have less overall responsibility. It’s important to begin setting the school year expectations well in advance to avoid problems with the adjustment. It’s never a good idea to start your new routines on the first day of school. Build up slowly to the new schedule.

  • Create a homework station. It can be helpful to establish a dedicated place in the home where children are expected to complete their homework. Set up the space with the supplies such as pencils, extra paper, dictionary, rulers, crayons, and other items that may be particular to your child’s grade level to help them complete their work efficiently. Having a dedicated space can help train the brain to focus more quickly.

  • Backpack/Out the door station. If there is nowhere to hang a backpack and coat where else is a child supposed to place them but on the floor? Create a small space where children place their items when they return home from school. It can be difficult to get them to use it right away, but if you stick with it and set the expectation far in advance they will eventually do it without thinking about it.

  • Lunch making station. Lunches are much easier to put together when you have everything you need in one place.  Dedicate a drawer or cabinet to everything need for lunches. Include Ziploc bags, plastic utensils, paper sacks, lunch boxes and non-perishable foods to make lunch making a snap.

  • Create a system for all that school paper. Children bring home A LOT of paper!  Be prepared  this year by setting up a sustainable system.

1.      Have an inbox for the paper they bring home daily.

2.      Before paper hits the inbox take 2 minutes to sort through them and decide what must stay and what goes.

3.      Separate action paper (permission slips, etc.) from paper to file (artwork, test grades).

4.      Keep a file folder handy of all action items.

5.      Keep a large tote of paper to file.

6.      Monthly or quarterly spend time with each child going through their tote of paper to file. Decide which items are important to both you and your child. Date the important items (you will forget later!) and toss the rest.

7.      Consider scanning the items you’re keeping to further reduce paper clutter. 

  • Update clothing. Spend time cleaning out clothing drawers and closets. Put away or donate any clothing that is too small or too big. Getting dressed in the morning is much easier for children when their drawers aren’t overflowing with clothes that don’t fit them anymore.

5 Things To Discuss Before Your Teen Heads Off To College

talking-with-momCommunication between college students and parents is key. Here are five important things to talk about before your teen leaves home:

The Budget

One of the biggest potential sources of family conflict is the college student budget. Whether you are funding your child’s education, or expecting him to come up with the money himself, your child will need to be on the same page. If your financial assistance will be limited, it’s important to explain what help you can provide and how it will be distributed. Plan to deposit five hundred dollars a month to help out? Say so. Don’t expect your child to intuit your financial plan.

Parents often promise to pay for college in full, but may not define their expectations clearly. Maybe you have been saving since your child was a toddler, but how to you plan to disperse the funds? What if the savings won’t be enough to cover living expenses all four years? Paying for college extends well beyond tuition.

Points to consider:

·      Who will pay living expenses? Will those be paid directly by parents, or will money be deposited in an account for the student to use to pay bills him/herself?

·      How will food, transportation, and clothing be paid for?

·      What about the cell phone?

·      Will parents pay for health care?

·      Who will pay for extras?

The Timeline

College isn’t always four years of coursework. Some students extend time in college because their programs last five or more years. Some change majors. Others take it slowly for the first couple of years.

If your plan is to fund college for your child, does your strategy take these things in to account? Is there a time limit to your financial support? How about your patience? Are you prepared to pull the plug if your child is on the seven-year plan? If so, maybe she needs to hear your thoughts ahead of time, so she can find a part time job or pick up the pace.

Crisis Situations

Medical or mental health crisis: Record numbers of college students are seeking mental health support according to recently published studies. Common mental health related causes for leaving college include: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, excessive drinking, and drug use. Are there medical or psychiatric issues that might prevent your college student from completing school uninterrupted? If so, under what circumstances might you need to bring him home? Does he know when to ask for your help?

Academic Crisis: Do you have a plan for failing college grades? Most paying parents won’t want to continue writing checks unless kids are producing passing grades. Have you discussed your views with your soon to be college student?

Breaks From School

Some parents express frustration when kids arrive back home during college breaks, dump their laundry next to the washing machine, and flop down into bed for the duration of the school break. If your son or daughter is home on break, do you expect him or her to help around the house? Work a summer job? Be up and at ‘em by nine every morning and in bed before midnight? Whatever your expectations, be certain to spell them out before the first academic break begins.

Plan B

Recent statistics estimate that almost half of college enrollees drop out before completing a degree. No parent sends a kid to college hoping she’ll drop out, but with estimated dropout rates so high, all parents and new college students should discuss alternative strategies in case college doesn’t work out.

 

Dr. Melissa Deuter is a psychiatrist in San Antonio, TX who specializes in the care of emerging adults. www.MelissaDeuter.com; @MStenDeut