Thursday, July 13, 2017

School's Over... No, School's About to Start...

Here in New York City, where most schools run until the end of June and do not begin again until after Labor Day,  the first part of July is a time for students and teachers to catch their breath and to bask in the prospect of weeks of summer break looming ahead. But much marketing by retailers is national in scope, and we've noticed that stores that sell school supplies are busy reaching out to families whose children return to school as early as mid-August. These ads -- for clothing, binders, electronics and the like -- are only going to increase in frequency until things hit a crescendo as summer comes to an end.

So, loathe as we are to interfere with the relaxation that comes with summer, it may be time to consider some products that can make your family's return to school less stressful and more productive. In our work with all kinds of families, we've found that some basic items tend to be the most helpful.

A large white board, mounted in a central location (kitchen wall or door, near the front entry, right by the mud room or garage) can be "command central" for busy families. Need something from the grocery? Write it on the white board. Have a project or permission slip due? Make a note on the whiteboard or actually hang it from the board with a magnetic clip. Some families use a board that is divided into days of the week. Others reserve one area for each family member. And others write on it helter-skelter with lots of colors and underlining. Whatever works for your family...

A large bin or basket for every family member, lined up near the most used exit door. This can hold a backpack, gym clothes, homework folders (which should be in the backpack), and anything else that needs to leave the house with that person. Even mom and dad can find this useful as a place for keys, sunglasses, phones, etc. If you can locate the baskets near a place to plug in a long power strip, everyone can put their phones away (if you can pry them from their hands) and charge them for the upcoming day, all at the same time.

A supply closet can really help prevent last minute store runs. This can be anywhere you have a couple of extra shelves, which you can stock with packages of notebook paper, folders, glue sticks, boxes of pens and pencils, and printer paper - all bought on sale, of course.  If you have room for a pencil sharpener, manual or electric, all the better. And as the school year progresses, this is a great place to put "leftovers" -- those pieces of poster board you didn't use, the markers left over from a project, or glitter from a craft project. As the year unfolds, these items may come in handy and knowing where to find them is the key to putting them to use. Some families find a similar cabinet in the kitchen for lunch supplies is also helpful - stocked with sandwich fixings that don't need refrigeration, sandwich bread or wraps, juice boxes, packaged healthy snacks, and paper or plastic bags or reusable lunch containers.

A large, easy to read clock in the kitchen can help keep everyone on schedule during the crucial parts of the morning. Too often there are small clocks on various appliances, each off by a minute or two. When catching the school bus or commuter train requires a precise departure time, it can help to have everyone's schedule synchronized.

As you think ahead of other ways to make the transition from summertime to school time easier, don't forget to take plenty of time to read, relax, and enjoy the break from school.

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